More expansion developments have been revealed by the American National Rugby League with news of a new franchise being established in Atlanta. The Atlanta Legion Rugby League Club has been formed and will become the mainstay of a new Southeast Conference. News of the AMNRL’s expansion to Atlanta follows similar moves earlier this year in Hawaii and Utah with the creation of the Pacific and Southwest Conferences. The AMNRL set up a Midwest Conference in 2010 with the establishment of the Chicago Stockyarders RLC and there have been moves this year to form a team in Detroit.
The new Atlanta Legion club will play its home games at the Atlanta Silverbacks Stadium, a 5000 seat facility with a brand new turf field, regulation size, in-ground permanent goal posts, dressing rooms, PA and music system, scoreboard and a licensed concession stand. One of the main driving forces behind the Atlanta Legion RLC is former Super League coach Rod Seddon. He and expatriate Australian Leo Buchieri, both of whom are now residents of Atlanta, are busily putting all the pieces together. Seddon, who originally hails from New Zealand where he had a long association with coaching at club level, steered the Old Blue Griffins side in the Super League in 2001 and then the reformed Olympic Club Blues from 2002 through 2004. After that, he moved across the San Francisco Bay to Hayward where he coached the Hayward Griffins to the 2007 Division I national championship. More recently, he has been involved with the Atlanta Renegades RFC and was part of their drive to the DI national semifinals in 2009 and the Round of 32 this past season. “I was prompted to form a Rugby League club after a number of players around the Atlanta area asked me for help to establish a League club in Atlanta. I’ve always been a fan of Rugby League. Rugby is still my passion, but it’s okay to like more than one thing. It’s okay to like cats AND dogs at the same time. Same with Union and League, same as 7s and Touch.”
Seddon believes rugby league and the AMNRL have a bright future in the Peachtree state. “There are plenty of opportunities for players to learn a new game that strangely is more akin to American Football than Rugby Union is. The difference between a down or a play the ball, versus a breakdown and who has rights to the ball is much easier for football converts to understand. And while 7s Rugby seems to be the chosen way forward, what about all the big guys, the forwards who struggle to play 7s? League during the summer and fall is a fair and reasonable choice. We have over 30 players already showing keen interest. I don’t think we’ll have any problems recruiting players from all walks of life. We’ll put up signs in gyms and we’ll be doing social media type advertising to begin.” One of the Atlanta Legion first recruits will be current USA Tomahawks backrower Salesi Tongamoa who lives in the Atlanta area and recently played Ireland in the Donnybrook Cup International in Philadelphia.
The Atlanta Legion club plans to start the ball rolling by arranging social or exhibition matches with a view to joining the AMNRL in the 2012 season.