The Iconic Leeds Rhinos Rugby League team, who has been a dominant force in the First Utility Super League (UK) by winning six Championships in the last 10 years, will now have a partner team in the USA who bares the same Iconic Mascot. We are proud to announce the ATLANTA RHINOS Rugby League Team.
The Atlanta Rhinos will be part of the Southeast Conference of the USA Rugby League National Competition.
Leeds are no stranger to the USA, having visited Florida multiple times for pre-season training camps and exhibitions games. During each visit they have been instrumental in helping increase the awareness of Rugby to the American public, as well as giving domestic players a chance to see the professionalism that exists in the sport internationally.
“Leeds have been one of the biggest factors in helping grow the sport in the Southeast USA”, said Jacksonville Axemen co-owner, Spinner Howland. “A combination of their global recognition in the sport, and their willingness to help grow the game every time they visit the USA, has allowed the domestic players and fans to see Rugby League as a very professionally operated sport. This is not only exciting for the game here in the Southeastern USA, but also for the entire USA Rugby League. Partnerships like this allow for the development and growth of the game in the USA to be exposed to the larger international markets, where Rugby League is a dominant force.”
The Rhinos have also been interested in sharing, and learning, ideas from the USA market, and during their visit in 2008 for the Australia Day Challenge, where they faced off against the South Sydney Rabbitohs from Australia, they held development meetings with the Jacksonville Jaguars to see what visions could be improved on the international sporting stage. They also partnered to help local community and charity promotions as part of their visit to Jacksonville.
“Leeds Rhinos are delighted to be lending support to the new Atlanta Rhinos. It is an exciting time for Rugby League in the USA and new clubs in City’s like Atlanta is a sign of real progress”, said Leeds CEO, Gary Hetherington. “Our support will help to raise the profile of Leeds Rhinos in Atlanta and as the sporting world gets smaller each year, we hope to develop some interesting initiatives together”.
The partnership with the Atlanta team is targeting three goals. Firstly, to foster a professional approach to the sport and the new team in Atlanta. The sharing of information, the invitations to host administration personnel as well as the potential to allow Atlanta players and coaches to visit Leeds in the future, gives the new team an instant foundation for success in creating a culture of professionalism on and off the field.
Secondly, it is an opportunity to engage with a many ex-patriot fans who live in the Atlanta area. “We are hoping to give international fans of the sport who are now living in the USA, a portal to enjoy the game at a high level, in the local area”, said Atlanta based operator Bob Taylor. “The Atlanta Rhinos hope that a well run organization, with a true business plan, can bring current fans to the game locally, as well as expose the exciting action of Rugby League to the 1000’s of potential new domestic fans.”
And finally, the creation of a fan club that will enhance the global reach of the Rhinos Brand. “By partnering with the Leeds Rhinos, we plan to expose domestic USA fans to the UK team”, said Spinner Howland. “It is not unlike a minor league team in the USA having a senior professional team, in a sport like baseball. Just because our partner team is in the UK, does not mean that we can’t have success in engaging fans for the home team, and the Leeds Rhinos.”
The Atlanta Rhinos are excited at the vision of having more international “members” who can support both the RHINOS teams. A fan club and social media is planned that will have constant news feeds, direction to membership options, and other team interactions, under the banner of RHINOS AROUND THE WORLD, where all fans can help grow Rugby League on a more international basis.
The management of Southeast Rugby League would like to thank Gary Hetherington, and the entire Leeds Rhinos organization, for having such a great belief in the global vision for Rugby League. The Atlanta Rhinos logos is currently under design and will be released very soon.
The website www.atlantarhinos.com is under construction.
You are also encouraged to get familiar with the LEEDS RHINOS at www.therhinos.co.uk