Ottawa's new pro rugby team named the Aces
Team will play in Europe-based rugby league starting next year
Ottawa's new professional rugby team will be called the Aces.
Sticking with the red and black theme, the team will start playing in the Europe-based, three-tier Rugby Football League (RFL) in 2021.
It's the brainchild of Eric Perez, the head of a Canadian consortium that acquired England's Hemel Stags in the hope of moving that team to Ottawa. The relocation was approved last year.
The Ottawa club will be the second Canadian team in the RFL after the Toronto Wolfpack, which joined in 2017 and is now in the top-tier Super League.
Perez was that club's founder and previously served as its CEO.
"Our goal is to, one day, do what they did and make it to Super League," Perez said.
"We'll do that with patience and hopefully with some homegrown talent as well. We'll try and get that in as soon as possible."
Les Aces d’Ottawa feront leurs débuts dans la Rugby Football League en 2021 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/iciottgat?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#iciottgat</a> <a href="https://t.co/tIrqZU64ps">pic.twitter.com/tIrqZU64ps</a>—@KimValliereSRC
Perez said he'd like to have a head coach by the end of April. Player signings should start in June and training camp will likely be overseas in December.
The Aces will join the third-tier League 1, with opportunities to move up to higher levels. Its 2020 season started earlier this month with 11 teams in England and Wales, and runs until September.
Ottawa, with a 26-person ownership group, will pay for visiting teams to get to North America. The Wolfpack do as well.
The league plays under 13-player rugby league rules, different from 15-player rugby union.
League president Simon Johnson said Monday there's more action in rugby league, and it's easier for new fans to pick up than rugby union.
With files from The Canadian Press