NRL 2023: US rugby league players bid to solve NRL strike drama

God bless America! US-based rugby league players poised to resolve NRL strike crisis ahead of 2023 first round

More than 160 US-based rugby league players have agreed to fly to Australia immediately to save rugby league should NRL players decide to go on strike.

In an extraordinary development during stalled collective bargaining, The Daily Telegraph is able to reveal USA Championship Rugby League’s plan to contact ARL Commission Chairman Peter V’landys to offer a contingency plan for the move to Australia to ensure that the NRL competition begins.

“I spoke to our players today and we have 160 ready to go to Australia if the NRL players go on strike,” said Championship Rugby League president Tom Stevenson.

“Today I reached out to the coaches for confirmation before calling Peter V’landys and all our coaches said their players were dropping everything and going to Australia on the next flight.”

The CRL includes eight clubs in three states – California, Utah and Nevada. The contest officials also have players on their database in New York, Florida, Ohio and Colorado. The first round of the competition begins on Sunday January 29th.

“If strike action is to continue, we would pause our season immediately and send all 160 players to help save NRL competition. The show will go on with or without the current players,” Stevenson said.

“If the NRL players don’t think there’s someone raring to do their job for a quarter of the money, they’re fooling themselves. Our players are ready.”

Little progress has been made in CBA talks with players escalating labor disputes in protest. While unlikely, NRL stakeholders are bracing for the possibility of a player strike.

“I’m under no illusions that our lads aren’t training in professional programs at the moment, but this move to Australia would keep the competition going for fans and maintain the game’s broadcasting commitments, which is employment for a lot of people,” said Stevenson said.

“We could go to Australia with all 160 players on the Championship Rugby League books. We have a database of US based men’s players with more than 400 names.

“American players are natural athletes with a strong understanding of the game and we play a fun rugby league style. Who knows, it might even open the door for some of our players to be lured into the NRL.

“Most of the boys played college football or had a Rugby 7 background in college and came into rugby with a lot of passion.

“As an NRL fan, this is all kind of confusing.

“Players in Australia play for clubs, not billionaire owners, and they represent the community and the fans are connected to the teams, not the players.”

The CRL consists of the California franchises San Francisco Savage, Sacramento Immortals, North Bay Warriors and East Palo Alto Razorbacks, the Las Vegas Islanders of Nevada and the Utah teams Salt Lake City Spartans, Provo Steelers and Utah Saints.

The mantra of the competition is: “At Championship Rugby League we are committed to continuous improvement, so we are constantly looking for ways to enhance the experience for all of our fans.”

Originally posted as NRL 2023: US Rugby League players bid to solve NRL strike drama NRL 2023: US rugby league players bid to solve NRL strike drama

Ryan Sederquist

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