Major League Rugby recently unveiled home and away jerseys for eleven of its teams and announced the addition of a twelfth team for the 2024 season, which kicks off in March.
The new team, called Anthem Rugby Carolina or Anthem RC for short, will play at the American Legion Memorial Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and serve as a developmental team for players eligible to compete for the United States men’s national rugby team as they prepare for the 2027 and 2031 Rugby World Cups, the latter of which will be hosted by the USA.
A full crest and jerseys are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.
The Anthem RC logo is a large stylized A with three upward-slanting stripes of the American flag forming the crossbar of the A. Positioned within the A, at the end of the stripes, is a star, further symbolizing American identity.
Several versions of the logo, made public through Anthem RC’s social media channels on Friday, displayed it in gray on a bright blue background, in white on a gray background, and in bright blue on a golden background.
„Anthem RC’s branding embodies the concept of emerging stars, symbolizing the new club’s efforts to invest in and grow American rugby. Inspired by the US national anthem, it also has clear ties to the Charlotte community, drawing from its rich military heritage and featuring a recognizable color palette inspired by the smoky hues of the Blue Ridge Mountains.“
— Major League Rugby
Anthem RC also unveiled a secondary logo featuring „Anthem“ in cursive and „Rugby Carolina“ in a script below, derived from the letter A.
Anthem RC’s 2024 roster will consist of loaned players from other MLR teams who are eligible to play for the USA in international rugby competitions.
MLR Commissioner Nic Benson said in a press release, „The new club is a game-changer for American rugby and will create new pathways for player development and participation in community rugby, building on the excellent foundation our teams have established over the past seven years. We are grateful to the leadership of World Rugby and USA Rugby for their partnership in this endeavor as we work towards our common goal of hosting record-breaking Rugby World Cups in 2031 on American soil. Charlotte is one of the nation’s premier sports cities with a passionate fan base for everything from basketball to football, and we look forward to bringing the first professional rugby franchise home. There’s already a great rugby community in Charlotte, and I’m excited to introduce this sport to new fans in the Carolinas.“
Alan Gilpin, CEO of World Rugby, added, „In collaboration with strategic partners in the USA and with the support of our board, we are activating a transformative and long-term growth plan for rugby in the USA, enabling a major sports nation and the sport as a whole to unlock its true potential. We see this ambitious plan focused on making the sport more relevant and accessible to more people in the USA, a nation rooted in the spirit of sport and entertainment. In addition to promoting the clear potential of women’s rugby and solidifying sevens in USA sports culture, we also need to develop elite men’s rugby sustainably and ensure the USA Eagles are successful on the world stage.“
With the addition of Anthem RC and other expansion franchises and withdrawals, MLR has realigned its conferences for 2024. The Western Conference will consist of the Dallas Jackals, Houston SaberCats, Rugby Football Club Los Angeles, San Diego Legion, Seattle Seawolves, and Utah Warriors. The Eastern Conference will include Anthem RC, Chicago Hounds, Miami Sharks, New England Free Jacks, New Orleans Gold, and Old Glory DC.
The MLR 2024 season will kick off on the weekend of March 2nd and 3rd. Anthem RC’s first game will be on Sunday, March 3rd, against the defending champions, the New England Free Jacks.