Canterbury Rugby Union and Crusaders Take Minority Ownership of Seattle Seawolves
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The Canterbury Rugby Union and Crusaders have extended their reach and taken minority ownership stakes in the American professional rugby side, the Seattle Seawolves.
The Canterbury union is a major stakeholder of the Crusaders and both say they will do what they can to help develop players for the Seawolves.
The Seattle-based team was formed last year and will kick off its inaugural season in the new North American professional competition, the Major Rugby League, in April.
The Seattle Seawolves are keen to benefit from the Crusaders' expertise.
"As the oldest rugby organisation in New Zealand we are excited to have secured a small stake in the future of professional rugby in the US," Canterbury Rugby CEO Nathan Godfrey said.
"We look forward to sharing our expertise of developing some of the world's best rugby players with the Seawolves."
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said his franchise would be looking to help the Seawolves.
"As a professional rugby club we are delighted to have the opportunity to take a small stake in the Seawolves, with our goal being to assist them with their entry into professional rugby in the US," he said.
"We look forward to helping where we can and supporting them in their exciting journey to be a successful professional team and club."
New Zealand sporting rights company FHG Ltd has brokered the deal.
"It's my absolute pleasure to bring a small group of four investors from rugby in New Zealand to play a part in the exciting journey that will be the Seattle Seawolves," said FHG managing director Warren Goddard.
The Seawolves are happy to have one of the world's most successful sides in the Crusaders - who have won eight Super Rugby titles - on board.
"I could not be more thrilled to have the winning tradition of the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby joining our ownership team," said Seawolves co-owner Shane Skinner. "They are world class sports organisations and this partnership underscores the potential of professional rugby in America."
The Seawolves recently announced the majority of its first season roster and it includes seasoned rugby veterans, Garrett Bender, Eric Duechle, and Nick Wallace.
Bender competed with Team USA with the return of rugby sevens to the 2016 Olympics and will bring his explosive style of play to the Seawolves. Air Force captain and former USA Eagle Duechle has been named 'The Beast' in the rugby community for his imposing frame, while Wallace has had several years experience with the US national team.
The Seawolves will have their first MRL game on April 22 against San Diego Legion in Tukwila, which borders Seattle.