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Here are two important facts that are sidebars to the 2019 Major League Rugby attendance figures to date: (1) Major League Lacrosse does not begin its 2019 season until May 31, and (2) the English Championship League (the second tier RFU league) generates attendance lower (in most cases) than Major League Rugby.
The 2019 MLR attendance averages, part observation, part conjecture, are down from the debut season of 2018. The nine team league attendance totals are up for Seattle and down for the two Texas fifteens at Austin and Houston.
Cold weather, replete with rain and snow, represents one of the major factors in the shortfall of fans at these MLR contests. What could MLR expect when it scheduled the start of the second season in mid-January and played games through the winter months?
One of the main complaints about college rugby has been the unfair advantage of California schools that began play in January while Mid-West and New England sides could not practice outdoors until the frozen ground’s spring thaw. The result was to make fifteens the fall game and move the burgeoning sevens game to the spring months.
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) presents a short season of play from Memorial Day to mid-July. The league averages about 3,500 fans per game in a nine-city format. However, Denver averages more than 7,000 fans per home game, and without its league-leading totals, MLL would only average 2,100 per game.
The English Championship features twelve teams where nine clubs play in stadiums of less than 4,000, small venues much in line with MLR capacities Yet, a cursory glance at past seasons, reveals weekly attendance hovering around a 1,200 average.
Rugby, a niche sport, in the USA with a limited fan base, should reconsider when its 2020 season begins. The cold and drizzly winter months are neither optimum for play nor conducive for fans. When the blizzard hits Boston next February, what will the Free Jacks do?