Six franchises from the same number of countries will compete in the first season of the Superliga Americana de Rugby (SLAR). The competition will start in 2020 and feature players from South America, Europe and the Pacific.
The Superliga was officially launched at the Estadio Charrúa in Montevideo last weekend.
The professional tournament, which will kick-off in the first week of March, will include teams from each of the top South American countries.
Ceibos (Argentina), Corinthians (Brazil), Olimpia Lions (Paraguay), Peñarol (Uruguay) and Selknam (Chile) will launch the SLAR in 2020, while Cafeteros Pro, the Colombian outfit, will join in the final leg of the tournament, playing two games before becoming permanent members in 2021.
In all, teams will play 24 games across 12 rounds, each team playing eight games – four home and four away. Teams will be based in Córdoba, Sao Paulo, Asunción, Montevideo, Santiago and Medellín respectively. The team that finishes in fifth place will then meet the Colombian franchise. The top four sides will play semi-finals and final to decide the inaugural champions.
Each team had a prominent player at the tournament launch, which is the trigger to a new era for rugby in the region, as Sebastián Piñeyrúa, President of Sudamérica Rugby, said: “The growth of rugby is unstoppable and now there is a great option for players to get better, enjoying the game in their own environments, offering a higher standard, with bigger coverage and international recognition.
“This SLAR also aims to bring in new fans, opening new markets and placing it amongst the biggest sporting events in the region.”
Three of the biggest football clubs will be supporting the teams in Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay, ensuring the net is wider and new fans are attracted to the game.
In closing, Piñeyrúa thanked the unions involved. “We will now be in a position to retain players, so that they can stay close to their homes, families and friends, whilst having the opportunity to play professional rugby in their country.”
Each franchise had a player in Montevideo. Carlos Angulo (Cafeteros Pro), Arthur Bergo (Corinthians), Manuel Montero (Lions), Tomás Cubilla (Ceibos), Ignacio Silva (Selknam) and Santiago Arata (Peñarol) (left to right in photo) represented players from the region, the Pacific and Europe that will be playing in the first SLAR.
Santiago Arata, whose try against Fiji in Kamaishi was one of the outstanding moments of Rugby World Cup 2019, spoke on behalf of the players at the launch.
“We are very happy with the Superliga Americana de Rugby. It comes after the hard work of every country in the region and is a dream come true for us as players and those who are coming through the ranks. We will give our all, as we always do when playing rugby,” Arata said.
“We will make the Superliga one of the best leagues in the world.”