Rugby in Canada has suffered a further blow after its sole Major League Rugby (MLR) side, Toronto Arrows, announced that it was folding ahead of the upcoming campaign.
MLR confirmed the Arrows would cease operations immediately with the duo having “explored all avenues in an effort to maintain the club’s presence” in the competition.
General Manager of the Toronto Arrows, Tim Matthews, stressed that “extensive efforts” were made to keep them from folding in a setback for rugby in the country.
“It is with heavy hearts we formally announce that the Arrows will not participate in the 2024 MLR season,” Matthews revealed as the shock news was announced on Monday.
“Despite extensive efforts, carrying on following the passing of Bill Webb was simply too great a challenge for the club to overcome.
“We are working with the League office and contracted players regarding next steps – and in the spirit of the club’s co-founder, we are also working with partners regarding the Arrows Academy and the continued development of Canadian rugby talent.
“To our fans, friends, partners and the broader rugby community, thank you for your support over the years.”
— Toronto Arrows RC (@TorontoArrows) November 28, 2023
Toronto Arrows played in MLR since 2019 and finished in last position in the 2023 campaign, winning just one and drawing two of their 16 regular-season matches.
Canada internationals such as Lucas Rumball, Peter Nelson, Mason Flesch and Robbie Povey are Arrows players, as is former Leinster and Leicester Tigers back Noel Reid.
Rugby Canada sympathy
This is the latest setback for Canadian rugby after the men’s international outfit missed out a 2023 Rugby World Cup place after losing out to Chile in Americas 2 Repechage.
Rugby Canada released a statement of their own shortly after Toronto Arrows’ in which they offered their sympathy to the club, its players and the Webb family at a tough time.
“Rugby Canada is saddened to hear the unfortunate news that the Toronto Arrows will not participate in the 2024 MLR season,” they wrote as players now seek new clubs.
“We join the greater rugby community in expressing our sympathy for all those impacted, including the Webb family, who have made immense contributions to rugby in Canada.
“Our priority now is to work with the Canadian players and staff who are affected by this announcement to support them as they look to continue their professional rugby careers.”