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Additional reporting from France reveals that the leading professional organization, the League National of Rugby (LNR), has formed a new partnership with Major League Rugby in the USA. The article from Midi-Olympique, the bi-weekly rugby newspaper (88,000 circulation), contained interviews with Alain Tinguad, director of the LNR, and Dean Howes, commissioner of the MLR.
The affiliation will include French assistance in the growth and development of MLR, which begins its second year in 2019 after its inaugural season in 2018. Howes explained:
"The United States, despite its potential, has not yet been successful with a professional rugby league. All past attempts have failed until now. We believe that the experience gained by the LNR that developed rugby in France during the past twenty-years, can be helpful to us."
One area to be explored is sending young French rugby players to play for the MLR teams. These "rugbymen" (as the term is widely used in France) have more experience and better skills that could benefit teammates.
The LNR supervises the Top 14, the professional French league that averaged 14,000 plus in attendance. Coincidentally, the English Aviva Premiership averaged 14,100 among its 12-team lineup.
To date, MLR has not posted attendance for its 2018 season among the seven clubs. A clue though, can be found with published numbers for the two semi-final matches and the championship in San Diego, which averaged around 3,000 fans. This 3,000 number is substantially higher than PRO Rugby's 1,700 per game during its one season.
Perhaps the only comparison can be made with Major League Lacrosse that averaged 3,844 spectators during the 2017 season, dropping from a high of 6,417 in 2011.
Tinguad was optimistic about MLR's future, saying, "In ten-years, MLR could become one of the most successful leagues on the world's circuit."