DALLAS (March 2, 2021) — Major League Rugby (MLR) announced today a multi-year agreement with American Airlines to be the official airline and travel partner of the rapidly growing professional league, founded in 2017. This strategic partnership will provide MLR with a number of benefits to ensure success off the pitch as teams and player focus on safely traveling across North America.
“American makes safety its top priority and offers a reliable and comfortable travel experience for our players and staff,” said George Killebrew, MLR Commissioner. “When it comes to getting to and from matches, American is the perfect airline to meet our needs. Last year was a tremendously challenging for every business around the world and we are ready to get back to business. American Airlines will help us make that possible.”
With 12 professional teams spread across North America from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. and Toronto coordinating team travel is a critical element to any league’s success. American Airlines’ expertise in providing their passengers with additional leg room, free in-flight entertainment offerings to enjoy and enhancements to its multi-tiered Clean Commitment – all contributed to MLR partnering with the airline.
“American has always been focused on making it easy for passengers to do business with us,” said Esther Maldonado, Managing Director of Central Division Sales. “Our new partnership with Major League Rugby is an opportunity to make travel costs more affordable and flexible for organizations, providing them a safe and comfortable travel experience, and a chance for American to engage with Major League Rugby’s fans across North America.”
Opening weekend on March 20 will feature a 4 p.m. ET matinee in New Orleans, as NOLA Gold hosts Old Glory DC. Other highlights of the League’s opening day include the Los Angeles Giltinis’ inaugural game hosting the New England Free Jacks, and the Houston SaberCats hosting the 2019 champion Seattle Seawolves.
The 12 teams are split into two conferences. The Eastern Conference features six teams (Rugby ATL, New England Free Jacks, NOLA Gold, Old Glory DC, Rugby United New York, Toronto Arrows) and the Western Conference features six teams (Austin Gilgronis, Houston SaberCats, LA Giltinis, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves, Utah Warriors). Each team will play a 16-game regular season schedule, with two bye weeks each.
Major League Rugby is a professional sports league entering its fourth season and representing the highest level of rugby competition in North America. The League evolved from seven teams in 2018 to 13 teams in 2021, 12 from the United States and one from Canada. Matches are televised on CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports 2, and ESPN+, among other national and local market platforms. All matches are available on Facebook Live for international fans. MLR prides itself in fostering intense and high-stakes competition, while bringing together a passionate community built on the values of Respect, Inclusivity, and Tradition. For more information about MLR, visit www.MajorLeague.Rugby
ABOUT AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP:
American’s purpose is to care for people on life’s journey. Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL and the company’s stock is included in the S&P 500. Learn more about what’s happening at American by visiting news.aa.com and connect with American on Twitter @AmericanAir and at Facebook.com/AmericanAirlines.
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