Chicago Hounds CEO James English (left) and head coach Sam Harris. (Supplied photo)
Major League Rugby coming to SeatGeek Stadium
Chicago Hounds expansion team to play games at Bridgeview facility
By Bob Bong
A new professional sports team will be playing its matches at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview next month.
The Chicago Hounds, an expansion team for Major League Rugby, will be calling Bridgeview home when they begin their inaugural season in February.
“We’re honored that the Hounds have chosen to call SeatGeek Stadium their home,” said Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek. “They will be practicing in our dome and playing on our award-winning field, all of which fits into our long-range goal of making Bridgeview a good place to live, a destination for non-residents to enjoy, and a place that is home to successful businesses.”
The Hounds will be the 12th team in the league and will compete in MLR’s Western Conference, donning team colors of green and sky blue. Chicago will play its inaugural match on the road at Old Glory DC on Saturday, February 18. The team’s home opener at SeatGeek Stadium will be on Sunday, March 4, vs the Utah Warriors.
“We are thrilled to add the Chicago Hounds to Major League Rugby for the 2023 season,” said MLR Commissioner George Killebrew. “Chicago is one of the best sports towns in North America and we couldn’t be happier to be part of the competitive landscape. Rugby has a long-time tradition in the city and throughout Northern Illinois and we look forward to growing the game even further.”
Led by longtime Chicago rugby players and fans Matt Satchwell and Phil Groves, the Chicago MLR Founders Group is deeply committed to rallying Chicago’s community spirit to establish rugby as America’s next great sporting pastime.
Satchwell, an attorney who also serves as Board Chair, has been playing rugby his entire life and for the past 20 years in Chicago.
Groves is president of DAC Management and a part team owner who has been playing with and sponsoring rugby teams in Chicago and around the world for years.
Hounds CEO James English led Rugby United New York to the semi-final in 2019 as their first GM, and Irish rugby legends Rob and Dave Kearney round out the Founders with their collective decades of world-class rugby on the pitch and civic leadership off the pitch.
It was not long after departing New York at the end of 2019 that English was first approached by investors interested in establishing an MLR team in Chicago. Those approaches never came to much but having done plenty of research and seeing the value of placing a side in such a sports-crazed city, two-and-a-half years later and now the Hounds are a reality.
“There have been a lot of groups that looked at Chicago, we are not the only ones,” English said. “They weren’t quite able to get it over the line.”
“This is a special day for all of us,” said English. “We are very excited to formally introduce the Chicago Hounds name, as well as our logo and team colors. This organization plans to continue growing the game of rugby at the grassroots level here in Chicago and build a fanbase that can be proud of the way our team operates and competes.”
Sam Harris, 42, has been hired as the first head coach in the franchise’s history. He spent the previous two seasons as the Austin Gilgronis’ (AGs) head coach.
In 2021, Harris’ first year with Austin, he led the team to a 9-7 record, finishing third in the western conference. During the franchise’s previous three years competing in Major League Rugby, they amassed four wins total.
Harris’ team excelled in 2022 and Austin finished with a 12-4 record, ending the regular season as the best team in the western conference. The Gilgronis led all teams in Major League Rugby with a +246 point differential.
“As a kid, Chicago was always on my radar and I’ve always loved it as a city,” Harris said. “It’s not lost on me, the honor of being able to be the head coach that leads this great team into the MLR. We will have some good foreign talent that will add to this group. But this team will be about American talent, and growing American talent. We’ll find them. We’ll develop them. And we’ll expose them to high-level rugby.”
“Sam has a lot of qualities that you look for in a coach at this level,” said English. “His experience and what he accomplished during his time in Austin speak for themselves. We’re excited to be working with one of the top Head Coaches in Major League Rugby.”
Major League Rugby is entering its sixth season and represents the highest level of rugby competition in North America. The league started with seven teams in 2018 and now features 11 from the United States and one from Canada.
Matches are televised on Fox Sports, among other national and local market platforms. Select matches are available to stream live in North America on The Rugby Network, and all matches are available on The Rugby Network for international fans.
The Hounds will join the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League as full-time tenants at SeatGeek Stadium. The Chicago Fire men’s professional soccer team left Bridgeview a few years ago for Solder Field, but still play the occasional match at SeatGeek Stadium.
For more information about MLR, visit www.MajorLeague.Rugby
Comings & Goings: Orland Area Chamber installs new officers
Spread the loveRamzi Hassan of Edwards Realty Company was installed last week as president of the Orland Park Area Chamber of Commerce. The 2023 board of directors was also installed and annual membership awards were handed out during ceremonies last Thursday at the Crystal Tree Country Club. Installation duties were performed by Orland Park Mayor…
Oak Lawn studio wants to be haven for artists
Spread the loveBy Joe Boyle An acorn may be the symbol that inspires the Oak Lawn community to unleash its artistic talents. The first official session of the Acorn to Oak Studios will be presented from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, in the north wing of the Pilgrim Faith Church campus, 9411 S.…
EPCHS names Matthew Dugan next principal
Spread the loveFrom staff reports Evergreen Park Community High School has hired Matthew Dugan as its next principal. Dugan’s appointment was made official during the January 24 meeting of the Evergreen Park Community High School Board of Education. Dugan will become principal on July 1, upon the retirement of current Principal Bill Sanderson. “I am…
GOP money tells quite a tale
Spread the love. By Rich Miller State records show that Dan Proft’s People Who Play by the Rules PAC spent almost $36 million during the second half of 2022, mostly on advertising boosting Sen. Darren Bailey’s gubernatorial bid and opposing Gov. JB Pritzker. Of that, $2.4 million was spent on consulting. Former ABC7 political reporter…
Lyons Township school board rejects sale of 70-acre parcel in Willow Springs
Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch The sale of 70 acres in Willow Springs to a developer who wants to build an industrial park has been rejected by the Lyons Township High School District 204 board, but the door remains wide open to a sale. The board voted unanimously Jan. 23 to reject bids of $46.5…
Georgis Catering owner vows to rebuild after fire
Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Georgis Catering owner Buz Georgis is maintaining an upbeat outlook despite the destruction of his business in an early-morning fire Friday at 63rd Place and Central Avenue in Chicago’s Clearing neighborhood. “It’s been a pretty crazy week,” he said Monday. “But we are moving forward and we plan on being…
BEDS Plus Soup & Bread event to raise money to assist the homeless
Spread the love By Steve Metsch One way to warm up on a cold winter’s day is with a bowl of soup. And on Sunday, soup lovers can sample 20 different soups and also get the warm feeling received by helping a local charitable organization. BEDS Plus, which helps the homeless through the southwest suburbs,…
Sandburg/MVCC dual courses could save plenty of money
Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva The price of college tuition keeps going up and shows no sign of ever going down. Thus, District 230 Board Member Dave O’Connor is urging Sandburg parents with college-bound students to take a long look at the school’s dual credit program with Moraine Valley. “We get students here who will…
Obituaries February 2, 2023
Spread the loveGENARO ANDRADE Genaro Andrade, 71, passed away January 2. Arrangements and visitation were held at Szykowny Funeral Home, 4901 S. Archer Ave., Chicago. Funeral Mass was held at Immaculate Conception Church, Chicago. Final resting place St Mary’s Cemetery, Evergreen Park. To leave any tributes, please visit funeral home website at www.SzykownyFuneralHomeIL.com. MYRNA J.…
Push for state child tax credit begins, could face uphill battle
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A group of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday called for creating a state-level child tax credit that would give low- and middle income families up to $700 per child each year in tax relief. But whether Gov. JB Pritzker includes such a plan in his budget proposal,…
What to know ahead of Pritzker’s budget proposal to lawmakers
By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker’s second-term legislative agenda will kick off in earnest next week as he proposes his fifth annual state budget to lawmakers in the General Assembly. But while a governor’s proposal usually provides the framework for the state’s annual spending plan, it rarely makes it…
CAPITOL RECAP: Supreme Court ruling strengthens internet privacy law
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD — People who’ve been subject to fingerprinting, face or retinal scans as either employees or customers of Illinois companies have five years to file lawsuits if they believe the business violated a stringent state privacy law, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled this week. It’s the latest in a handful of…
Pritzker announces $40 million grant program to promote development-ready ‘megasites’
By NIKA SCHOONOVER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday announced the creation of a $40 million grant program to incentivize the creation of large development-ready areas known as “megasites” across the state. Megasites are large swaths of land, developed to attract businesses such as manufacturing plants, warehouses and distribution centers.…
Illinois’ biometric privacy law strengthened by latest high court ruling
By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – People who’ve been subject to fingerprinting, face or retinal scans as either employees or customers of Illinois companies have five years to file lawsuits if they believe the business violated a stringent state privacy law, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled this week. It’s the latest in…
Pritzker seeks more info on AP African American Studies course
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker this week asked the College Board for more information about its reasoning for changing the final framework of a new Advanced Placement course in African American studies after it had been criticized by Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. “Although we are pleased to…
Report pushes for greater focus on teacher recruitment and retention amid shortages
By NIKA SCHOONOVER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois schools are still grappling with a teacher shortage that seems to only be getting worse, a recent survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools shows. This mirrors the state’s own data, which shows Illinois’ teacher shortage is at the highest level in…
Illinois’ COVID-19 disaster proclamation to end in May
By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol news Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Exactly 38 months after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Illinois will no longer be under a disaster proclamation as of May 11, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Tuesday. That’s the same day President Joe Biden will end the national public health emergency, which…
CAPITOL RECAP: Gun lawsuit restraining order remains in place
By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD — A temporary restraining order that partially blocks Illinois’ new assault weapons ban from being enforced will remain in place after a divided state appellate court panel’s ruling Tuesday. The restraining order was issued Jan. 20 by Effingham County Circuit Judge Joshua Morrison, but it applies only to the 800…
Appellate court upholds restraining order on assault weapons ban
By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A temporary restraining order that partially blocks Illinois’ new assault weapons ban from being enforced will remain in place after a divided state appellate court panel’s ruling Tuesday. The restraining order was issued Jan. 20 by Effingham County Circuit Judge Joshua Morrison, but it applies only…