What we know about the new Ottawa Stags rugby league franchise

Toronto Wolfpack
Players on the field during Super 8s Round 4 game between Toronto Wolfpack (Canada) vs Newcastle Thunder (United Kingdom) at Allan A. Lamport Stadium in Toronto, Canada. August 19, 2017. (Photo by Anatoliy Cherkasov/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Toronto Wolfpack burst onto the rugby league scene in 2016 and after just four short years of existence, climbing the English rugby league ladder to reach the Super League. They laid the platform for the impending Ottawa Stags franchise introduction in 2021.

The Wolfpack’s impact goes beyond rugby league, as it could influence other sports competitions to field teams from all over the globe. That is the desire of a soon to be established Ottawa-based rugby league franchise, to be named the Stags.

Rugby league fans are gearing up for the new Super League season and can visit BetMGM to get the latest bonuses and tips before wagering on the top matches each week.

In the wake of Toronto’s rugby league success, another club from the ‘Great White North’ has eyed Super League, making plans to reach the pinnacle of the club game. With a 2021 target set for the team’s debut in League 1, here is what we know so far about the new franchise.

From the Toronto Wolfpack to Ottawa Stags

The Ottawa club has a familiar stakeholder; Eric Perez, overseeing its operations. Perez’s name will be familiar to rugby league fans after he masterminded the Toronto Wolfpack’s rapid ascent to the Super League. Perez stepped down from the Wolfpack with the idea of adding a rugby league team to the Canadian capital, Ottawa.

Wolfpack supporters will hope for another great rugby league season. Fans can back the Wolfpack each week using the latest Borgata bonus to wager on the club.

The former Wolfpack head honcho led a group of businessmen to purchase former League 1 team the Hemel Stags. The Hemel franchise formed in 1981 competing as an amateur and semi-professional club. In a very North American sports move, the club was granted permission to relocate to Ottawa and to begin play in 2020 after withdrawing from the rugby league third division.

Although plans for a debut campaign in 2020 were made, it was decided that the renamed Ottawa Stags would not begin rugby league play until the 2021 season. The move will give Perez and company more time to put things in order to make waves. Ottawa will not be the only rugby league club from North America to join League One in 2021 as New York City Rugby League Football Club will also be added to the division.

Rugby league’s executives hope Ottawa and New York will continue to grow the game in other parts of the world. In 2018, the New Zealand and England rugby league national teams played in Denver, Colorado in front of 20,000 fans at the Denver Broncos’ NFL stadium.

TD Stadium, and OSEG ownership group

Compared to Toronto, the Canadian capital city could be quite fertile ground to make fans due to fewer sporting options, especially in the summertime. Ottawa’s two biggest sports franchises are the Canadian Football League’s Redblacks and the NHL’s Senators.

Perez’s rugby league club consortium is working with the well-backed and connected Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG). The Ottawa group owns the Redblacks along with minor league ice hockey team, the 67’s and, had interests in minor league soccer team the Ottawa Fury.

However, Ottawa Fury FC folded two months ago because of sanctioning issues. Playing in the American second-tier soccer league the United Soccer League Championship (USL Championship), according to the Canadian Press, they did get a one-year sanctioning extension from the Canadian Soccer Association. Unfortunately, Ottawa Fury FC was unable to convince CONCACAF (North and Central America’s governing soccer body) and the United States Soccer Federation for a one-year extension in the USL Championship. This resulted in the demise of Ottawa Fury FC.

On December 11, as reported by the Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Fury FC was officially no more. OSEG sold them to a Miami-based soccer team now called Miami FC. That means there is a large space in the market, where a league team who can play in an established stadium, could excel.

Potential for Ottawa Stags to reach new audience in 2021

Perhaps the most significant part of the deal between the two parties is OSEG’s management of TD Place Stadium. It is this venue that the Stags will call home in, from 2021 on. TD Place Stadium holds up to 24,000 fans and is a great venue to grow rugby league fans in.

Rugby league has clubs in England, France, Spain, Canada, and soon, in the United States. Although considered a northern game in England, rugby league is truly breaking out on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Ottawa is the next stage, in this boost to the sport in the North American sports market.


The 2020 Super League season begins on January 30.


“Main photo credit”


  1. The governing body of English rugby league has accepted a bid to put a franchise in Ottawa. Toronto s Eric Perez, who helped bring the sport to North America via the Toronto Wolfpack, is part of a Canadian consortium that acquired England s Hemel Stags team in the hope of moving it to Ottawa.


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