FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — (Washington, DC – March 28, 2019) – A relationship has been formed between Old Glory DC and the Scottish Rugby Union. Scottish Rugby is the first Tier 1 national governing body in rugby to link with a club in the newly sanctioned Major League Rugby competition in the United States. Scottish Rugby has taken a minority stake in the East Coast MLR side and will provide a combination of financial and rugby support to the Old Glory DC team and see its Chief Operating Officer, Dominic McKay, sit on the team’s board.
The strategic partnership was born out of conversations in the US market around expanding the PRO14, and Scottish Rugby’s Board has 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 3rd largest media market in the U.S.
The Washington team has been developed and is led by former USA Eagles player Paul Sheehy, an owner of Sheehy Auto Stores, and prominent local businessman Chris Dunlavey, President of program management firm Brailsford & Dunlavey. Both are long-term sponsors, coaches and supporters of rugby in the area.
The MLR season runs from February to June, and the league currently has nine franchises competing in its second season following the arrival of the Toronto Arrows and Rugby United New York this year. The number of teams will expand to 12 in 2020 with the inclusion of Old Glory DC along with teams from Atlanta and New England.
Scottish Rugby Chief Operating Officer, Dominic McKay, said: “This is a very exciting moment for both Scottish Rugby and our new partners, Old Glory DC. 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. The US market has long been a strategic target for us, and the potential and passion for rugby will undoubtedly grow in the years to come. It is important we are creative and develop opportunities beyond our own borders and we are very much looking forward to growing our relationship with the team in Washington in the years to come.”
Scottish Rugby Chief Executive, Mark Dodson, added: “This is a strategic international partnership, which I am pleased we have secured to become the first Tier 1 nation to take this step with a team in the MLR. We see this relationship as having a number of benefits for rugby in Scotland as well as developing our global rugby footprint.”
The founding partners of Old Glory DC agreed.
“From the day we joined forces to explore the feasibility of creating an MLR team in DC, we carefully pursued additional partners who could bring not only capital but also strategic value,” said Old Glory chairman Chris Dunlavey. “We could not have imagined this search ending with a better strategic partner than Scottish Rugby.”
Added his partner, Paul Sheehy, “Scottish Rugby is not only one of the top-ranked Tier 1 national governing bodies in rugby, but they own two professional rugby teams in the PRO14; they own and operate BT Murrayfield Stadium; they’re a one-sixth owner of the Six Nations tournament; and a one-third owner of the PRO14. Whatever we need to learn in rugby, this is a relationship to guide us.”
“This investment by Scottish Rugby is not just a commitment to our team in DC,” said Dunlavey. “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.”
Old Glory DC and Scottish Rugby worked openly with, and with the full support of, both MLR and USA Rugby while forging this association.
“From the start, the owners of MLR’s Washington, DC membership have demonstrated the highest professionalism and a long-term view toward building a sustainable, successful rugby organization,” said MLR Commissioner Dean Howes. “Their link with Scottish Rugby is just another sign of that commitment.”
About Scottish Rugby:
Scottish Rugby is the governing body for rugby union in Scotland. Our role is to grow the game and inspire Scotland through rugby in line with our values of respect, leadership, achievement, engagement and enjoyment. We are based at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh and we administer Scotland’s international rugby teams, the country’s two professional clubs (Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors) as well as the domestic fixtures for clubs and schools across Scotland. For more information, visit scottishrugby.org.
About Old Glory DC:
Old Glory DC is a professional rugby club based in Washington, DC that officially joined Major League Rugby in November 2018 and will begin league play in MLR’s 2020 season. The club will play a series of exhibition games throughout the first half of 2019. As a recent addition to the fabric of the nation’s capital and the entire mid-Atlantic community, Old Glory DC’s vision is to grow the sport of rugby in our region by 50% by 2023. The club is owned by life-long rugby players Paul Sheehy and Chris Dunlavey, who are proud to bring professional rugby to their hometown for the first time ever. For more information, visit oldglorydc.com.