While all eyes have been glued to the opening two rounds of Six Nations action, the Pro12 has been working quietly to expand its reach all the way across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Americas. Plans have been drawn up to include one US franchise and another in Canada in a brand new league dubbed the Guinness Atlantic Rugby Championship. The new league is scheduled to kick off in time for season 2018-19, provided all the parts are in place.
When Scotland were beating Ireland on the opening weekend of the championship, the Pro12 boss Martin Anayi was in Houston, Texas, the favoured place for the USA arm of the operation due to its warm location, catching up with interested parties and scouting out locations. The fact that the Super Bowl was on in Houston that very weekend was surely no coincidence; after all you have to keep one eye on the opposition.
However the situation remains fluid, with talk of one former international fronting an Irish consortium who want a franchise in New York; there’s also talk that Harlequins, who have a minority stake in Rugby International Marketing (RIM), the marketing arm of USA Rugby, are interested in the franchise.
It is planned to home the Canadian franchise in Toronto, utilising the BMO Stadium – which currently houses Toronto FC – where Scotland’s rugby team played Canada in 2014.
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