We have the pleasure to announce a new collaboration between The Utah Warriors, founding member of North America’s Major League Rugby (MLR) with the acclaimed French team, Stade Toulousain, Europe’s winningest professional rugby club (five (5) European Cup Championships and twenty-one (21) French Championships, the most of any European team).
The French American Chamber of Commerce Rocky Mountain is proud to have facilitated the connection between France and the Rocky Mountains and to see those relationships come to fruition with a new partnership which will create a premier global collaboration as two leaders in their respective markets.
This collaboration, called The Rugby Alliance, will be a corporate accelerator to drive the global brand and team development for partner clubs by using combined sports, marketing, commercial, media, and other technology development assets and initiatives in each team’s region and globally.
“The Stade Toulousain is proactive with our international development strategy and we’ve been grateful for the discussion with the American franchise of the Utah Warriors,” said Didier Lacroix, President of Stade Toulousain about the overall plan of The Rugby Alliance, “This initiative will help us to extend our brand and the know-how of our organization in a region where rugby has momentum and where they will welcome the future Rugby World Cups in 2031 and 2033.”
Lacroix went on to comment on why Stade Toulousain decided to partner with the Utah Warriors.
“[They] are an obvious choice,” he said, “Not only do we share the same values and visions that Stade Toulousain had back in the day but the Utah Warriors has been at the genesis of the creation of Major League Rugby and the growth of the game in North America. Salt Lake City and Utah are a territory very similar to the Occitanie and Stade Toulousain thanks to their economic success in innovation, industry, tourism, technology, as well as Utah’s overall outdoor lifestyle. The warm welcome that we received during our visit in December from the local government, sports, and the economic leaders was exceptional.”
Summarizing the early feedback of The Rugby Alliance’s planning Lacroix said both Stade Toulousain and the Utah Warriors have seen positive results internally and externally.
“We have been pleasantly surprised by the excitement of this project by all the various French and American institutions.” Didier Lacroix said, “And we’re very much looking forward to working with the Warriors and these institutions to grow The Rugby Alliance.”
Utah Warriors CEO and Co-Founder Kimball Kjar echoed Lacroix’s statements.
“This will create a paradigm shift on a global scale for the game and the business of rugby,” Kjar said, “For Americans, Stade Toulousain are the Dallas Cowboys or the Real Madrid of rugby, so to be able to partner with such a historically successful team that is also innovative and forward-thinking, we’re just truly grateful and truly excited about where this collaboration will go not only for both teams, but here in the US it will be exciting what his project will do to benefit the MLR and game overall.”
By establishing a global brand and content development strategy the Rugby Alliance will grow the member’s respective brands while also growing the sport of rugby. It will also help to accelerate the growth of each member team’s connections between businesses, communities, and tourism.
The Rugby Alliance will announce specific details in the coming weeks that will include the full scope of the project’s expected exhibition matches in North America, including in Utah, the planned media and corporate partnership strategies, as well as the plans for rugby development camps and clinics for players and coaches in the US and in France.
Through this international collaboration and partnered business development The Rugby Alliance will work to redefine how professional rugby teams can approach commercial, operational, and team growth as a springboard for future innovation inside one of the world’s largest sports.
MEET THE TEAMS
THE UTAH WARRIORS
The Utah Warriors rugby team was founded in 2018. The club played its first match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah before moving to Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, which has become home to Warriors Nation. The team was one of seven founding members of Major League Rugby, the USA’s professional rugby division. The league has since expanded, with 13 teams playing in the 2023 season. No other professional sports team in North America has seen this level of league growth in its early years.
The Warriors boast the top attendance for MLR games, leading the league in the 2022 season with 5 of the top 6 game attendances. They were also the first team in the MLR to put a development pathway program in place, a program that continues to grow and produce grassroots talent each year.
The team has several players who have been called up to represent their countries. Most recently, Paul Mullen and Paul Lasike competed with the USA Eagles in their attempt to qualify for the World Cup. The team is captained by Bailey Wilson, a flanker who set the Warriors’ franchise record for tackles in a single season in 2022 with 201.
The Warriors are coached by Greg Cooper, with Kimball Kjar as CEO.
THE STADE TOULOUSAIN
Stade Toulousain was founded in 1907 in Toulouse, France. Their home base is Stade Ernest-Wallon, but the team also frequently plays matches at Stadium Municipal de Toulouse. The team competes in the Top 14, France’s top rugby division, as well as the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Stade Toulousain is considered the most successful rugby club in Europe, having won the European Rugby Championship a record five times, most recently in 2021. They have also won the Boucliers de Brennus, the French domestic league trophy, 21 times.
The club boasts more than a few successful players. One player recognized as a standout in the club’s history is Fabien Pelous, a lock who played for Toulouse from 1997 to 2009. He was the club’s captain for four years, and also captained the French national team. Pelous led the team to the European Cup twice and the Championship title three times, representing Stade Toulousain in 222 matches. A current standout is Antoine Dupont, a scrum half who signed with Toulouse in 2017 and won World Rugby Men's 15s Player of the Year in 2021. He also captains the French national team.
Toulouse is coached by Ugo Mola, with Didier Lacroix as president.