Major League Rugby, featuring Colorado team, signs TV deal with CBS

Major League Rugby, a new professional rugby league launching in the U.S. next year, has announced an exclusive national TV deal with CBS Sports.

The league will launch with seven teams, including the existing Glendale Raptors.

CBS Sports Network — a cable and satellite affiliate of CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) — will televise MLR’s inaugural season beginning in April, marking what the league and TV network said will be the first national television coverage in American professional rugby history.

CBS Sports Network will broadcast a 13-game package with 10 weeks of regular season coverage — highlighted by a Major League Rugby Game of the Week — and two weeks of playoffs, including the semifinals and the first MLR Championship Game.

The Raptors, founded in 2007, play at Infinity Park in Glendale.

Other teams in the new league are Austin Elite Rugby, the Houston Sabercats, NOLA Gold of New Orleans, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves and Utah Warriors.

Better known and more popular in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., rugby is a fast, rough-and-tumble sport. Players wear far less protective equipment than U.S. football and play with slighter larger ball, with different rules and scoring.

Player rosters will include top North American players reinforced by up to five international signings in the 15-player, Rugby Union format.

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