A new body has been formed, the Canada Co-Operative Championship Rugby League (CCCRL), with the intention of establishing the first ever professional Rugby League competition in Canada, while also becoming the world’s first co-operatively owned sports league.
The founding Board of Directors’ plans have been accepted by the Canadian Rugby League (CRL) and are effective immediately.
The founding Board has also announced its tentative plan for a 2022, six-side competition that will be held in Toronto at Lamport Stadium. The initial offering had been planned for this summer; however, due to Covid-19 the championship tournament will now be set for 2022, showcasing six teams from the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta (men’s and women’s competition).
Chris Coates, the Founding Director of CCCRL, has spoken about today’s announcement, saying: “I am beyond excited to help deliver this once in a lifetime opportunity to bring not only one professional side to Canada, but six, to significantly strengthen Canada’s national Rugby League brand, for both men’s and women’s competition. To deliver a professional Rugby League organization to this great country and to create it with a model that is truly the people’s league is one that made sense and is going to be sustainable for the long term.”
“The end result could not have been accomplished without the collaboration and shared vision of the CRL’s Board of Directors and the Presidents of the provincial competitions. It not only stabilizes the sport in Canada for the future; it also positions it for significant growth and success, showcasing the next generation of Rugby League stars. This will be where the next-generation plays.”
In 2023, the league will implement a six-team competition that will consist of the West Coast Division, including teams from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, while the Eastern Division will include sides from Ontario and Quebec. The competition will feature up to 12 (6 men’s and 6 women’s) sides with the goals and expectations to expand and grow the league in future seasons. Divisional play will be held for men’s and women’s Rugby League with Championship tournaments held at the conclusion of each of the Divisional seasons.
The President of Canada Rugby League, Bob Jowett, had this to say about today’s announcement and how it will impact Rugby League in Canada: “The CRL are extremely excited by the launch of the CCCRL competition. This organization will provide a great opportunity for Canadian fans to watch high quality Rugby League being played in Canada and to support the continued grassroots development of the sport with a pathway right through to the professional game. We look forward to working with the CCCRL to assist in recruiting new and existing Rugby League talent in Canada that will showcase what the country and the game have to offer.”
Formed by a group of directors, the world’s first co-operatively owned professional Rugby League competition. Based out of Toronto, the co-operative with the support of the Ontario Co-Operative Association, will employ over 100 employees from players to backroom staff, to broadcasting and production. Founded in 2020, its primary mission is to deliver professional Rugby League in Canada and in-turn support the national growth of the sport by direct re-investment of a portion of profits back into the CRL. As a co-operative league it will be publicly owned, with dividends going back to its members. The CCCRL is positioning itself as one of the most innovative sporting organizations in the nation and in the world of Rugby League.
With over 360 participants, Canada Rugby League is the governing body for the sport in Canada. It offers men, women and children the opportunity to participate in Rugby League, as well as supporting and developing the game through domestic competitions. The Canada Wolverines and the Canada Ravens are products of the CRL system and supported by the Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) and International Rugby League (IRL). The history of the CRL program dates back to the 2000 season, and currently supports 10 men’s and women’s clubs spread across three provinces, in four competitions. The CRL continues to strive and work towards gaining national status with Sport Canada, an endeavour the CCCRL will support extensively.