The Canterbury Rugby Union and Crusaders have taken minority ownership stakes in the American professional rugby side, the Seattle Seawolves.

The Seawolves formed in 2017 and will play in the new North American professional competition, the Major Rugby League, which starts in April.

Chief executive of the Canterbury Rugby Union, Nathan Godfrey, told Radio Sport Breakfast that the minor investment was made to "open doors in America" and "further develop the Canterbury Rugby franchise".

"Canterbury Rugby and the Crusaders have made a really small investment in the Seattle Seawolves franchise, probably about 1%, but clearly we see other in-direct benefits in that ownership long-term," Godfrey said.


"It's a really small investment, it's the equivalent of us having an employee based in America so at the end of the day the Crusaders and Canterbury Rugby have an international high-performance share."

Godfrey said that the Canterbury Rugby Union and the Crusaders ultimately hope to develop better fan experience in New Zealand through observation of the Seattle Seawolves' fan base interaction.

"We certainly think we can learn a few things from them around fan experience," he said.

"They have really successful sport franchises over there … We sent our commercial marketing team over to Seattle before Christmas and they spent a week over there just immersed in that environment ... They do it very well over there"

"It's that sense of the fan journey, from the cradle to the grave, and it's passed on through generations, but at the end of the day you've got to make sure you're putting on a good experience and a good product on game day."

"I do think there's room for improvement in terms of how we do things in New Zealand."

Godfrey said the investment would also help provide opportunities to both New Zealand and US players who were interested in gaining overseas experience.

"Players want to have that overseas experience so we certainly think that there's a pathway there and certainly on the flip side I think there's some talent over there that we'd love to tap into as well ... so there's a reciprocal benefit to both of us."


The Seawolves will have their first MRL game on April 22 against San Diego Legion in Tukwila.

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