A group of American investors is promising to revolutionise rugby by recruiting the world's biggest names to a new league in the United States.

The National Rugby Football League, which has ties to the NFL, is set to be launched in 2022 with a salary cap equivalent to Premiership Rugby's £7 million limit.

"Our ambition is to be the biggest league in the world," Michael Clements, the NRFL commissioner, told The Daily Telegraph.

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Asked whether the likes of England lock Maro Itoje or New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett would feature on the shopping list, Clements said: "Our goal is to put the best product on the pitch, so we will need some of the best -athletes, whether or not they are the names you mentioned I can't say."

The NRFL has already established a relationship with leading rugby agent Hilton Houghton, who represents South Africa captain Siya Kolisi and several other Springbok stars.

Siya Kolisi of South Africa. Photo / Photosport
Siya Kolisi of South Africa. Photo / Photosport

"They want to make it the Hollywood of rugby," Houghton said. "This won't be a dumping ground for international players. It will be more like the IPL players, where you bring a Ben Stokes or AB de Villiers as your sprinkling of stardust on top of largely domestic squads."

The NRFL season, featuring eight teams, will run from April to July to fill the void left during the NFL's -offseason. Clements believes the -16-game season will act as a powerful incentive for players who otherwise face the slog of an 11-month campaign.

"Players will be paid on par with the big leagues but, making a comparison with the Premiership, they will play half the games," he said. -"Playing half the amount of game time allows the recovery and recuperation and helps the welfare of the player. When you are done playing, you can have a productive life and you are not beat up."

The proposed league has the backing of the NFL. Photo / Photosport
The proposed league has the backing of the NFL. Photo / Photosport

Among the league's backers is the NFL Alumni, an association for retired American football players. As well as planning to bring in crossover athletes from the NFL, the league will adjust several laws to appeal to the American demographic.

"To truly reinvigorate the game means modifying the laws so we can Americanise it," Steve Ryan, the league's managing director, said. Although rival league Major League Rugby launched in 2017, rugby has yet to truly penetrate the world's biggest sporting marketplace, worth more than $500 billion.

"The question has to be asked: How can rugby be better positioned?" Clements said.


"When you look at the top valued sports properties in Forbes' list, rugby is not there. Once it steps up from behind the curtain and is presented in the highest class fashion then we are going to raise the bar."