MLR Launches Successful Grassroots Rugby Program

1 year ago

Since its inception, Major League Rugby and its teams have been focused on the growth of grassroots rugby in North America. In 2021, the league took another leap forward by creating the Grassroots Development Incentive (GDI) program. This program ensured that teams were rewarded, through additional salary cap, for laying the foundation to build the long-term future of the game.

Each incentive had minimum fulfillment requirements whereby teams had to develop and promote rugby participation, through their own programs or alongside community partners, in their respective markets. Despite challenging circumstances, all 12 MLR teams executed their plans and met at least 2/3 incentives and have been granted additional salary cap for the 2021 season in accordance with their work.

“When we launched the Grassroots Development Incentive our goal was to get all MLR teams as involved as possible and lay the foundation to build the long-term success of the game,” said George Killebrew, Major League Rugby Commissioner.

There were three areas in which teams could reach the incentives – growing Youth Participation, creating a High School Academy, and forming a Development Academy. In the youth program, teams had to support the rugby development of children, both boys and girls, under the age of 14, by fully operating/funding youth rugby in their market. The high school academy program required MLR teams to form a competitive team for players under the age of 18. Finally, teams were encouraged to start/build developmental academy teams that will serve as a pathway into MLR squads.

“I am thrilled with the response from the teams as well as the overall success of the program,” said Killebrew. “Every team participated and developed excellent relationships with their community partners. We will continue to expand this initiative throughout youth programs, high schools, and academies across the country. I want to thank all the teams for the commitments they have made and continue to make so our game can expand and flourish in North America.”

Fans can stay tuned to MLR channels for more exciting announcements about competitions for MLR age-grade teams going into the 2022 season and beyond. Visit

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