Scottish Rugby Union has signed a deal with the professional rugby team Old Glory D.C. and taken a minority stake in the club, according to an announcement by the latter on March 28.
Scottish Rugby Union is the first Tier 1 national governing body to link with a Major League Rugby (MLR) Club. The agreement includes financial and rugby support to the recently formed D.C. club. Dominic McKay, Chief Operating Officer of Scotland Rugby, will sit on the franchise board.
“This is a very exciting moment for both Scottish Rugby and our new partners, Old Glory D.C. We have been working with the team behind this new franchise for some time, and I’m delighted we are now in a position to announce our association and support their arrival next season into the MLR,” said McKay.
According to the statement issued by Scottish Rugby Union, the strategic partnership was born out of conversations in the U.S. market around expanding the PRO14, and Scottish Rugby’s board had taken the decision to align with MLR at the start.
“Washington is one of America’s rugby hotbeds, with the D.C. area boasting 190 clubs and 7,500 players at school, college and club levels. Overall, the demographics of the market offer great economic potential, with Greater Washington alone including more than 8.5 million residents and rated the third largest media market in the U.S,” the statement added.
The Old Glory D.C. franchise is led by former U.S. Eagles player Paul Sheehy, also the owner of Sheehy Auto Stores, along with prominent local businessman Chris Dunlavey, president of project manager firm Brailsford & Dunlavey.
“We could not have imagined this search ending with a better strategic partner than Scottish Rugby,” said Dunlavey. “The investment by Scottish Rugby is not just a commitment to our team in D.C. This is also a major statement of confidence in the future of Major League Rugby and the growth of the sport in the U.S.,” he added.
The MLR season starts from February and runs till June. Nine franchises will be competing in the second season. The number of teams will increase to 12 in 2020 following the inclusion of Old Glory D.C., as well as teams from Atlanta and New England.
The D.C. franchise will be playing a series of exhibition games throughout the first half of 2019.