Major League Rugby Signs Docuseries Deal with Goldfinch


Goldfinch has signed a deal with Major League Rugby (MLR) to produce an exclusive, all-access multiyear docuseries project chronicling the growth and development of the league and sport in the U.S.

Filming for the first season, Stars, Stripes and Scrums: The American Rugby Journey (w.t.), which is focusing on the Chicago Hounds, is underway. The docuseries comes at a time of pivotal growth for the game in the U.S., with the country slated to host the 2031 Men’s and 2033 Women’s Rugby World Cups.

MLR has grown from seven teams in its inaugural 2018 season to 12 teams in the 2024 season. The Chicago Hounds are in their second year, while new clubs were introduced this year in Miami, Los Angeles and Charlotte, North Carolina. The influx of new teams and owners is expected to continue to build toward the 2031 Rugby World Cup.

Phil McKenzie and Kirsty Bell are producing for Goldfinch, alongside Julian Oliver, with Mike D. Ware and Seth Savoy producing stateside. Postproduction will be managed by Periscope.

“The trajectory of rugby in America is at an historic inflection point that we will never see again,” McKenzie said. “Our vision is to capture every layer of the sport, using the Hounds and MLR as a lens to view these through, across a time horizon peaking at the 2031 and 2033 Rugby World Cups. Peter, Matt (Hounds chairman) and Nic have been perfect partners in putting this deal together and understand that in granting us ‘access-all-areas,’ they are giving us the opportunity to show the audience behind the scenes of the most exciting sport in the world as it takes off in the most exciting sports market of the world, the U.S.”

“We are excited to partner with Goldfinch to tell the story of Major League Rugby as we build toward the U.S. hosting the 2031 Rugby World Cup,” said Nic Benson, CEO of MLR. “The 2024 season should be hard fought and competitive with the current title holders, the New England Free Jacks, taking on rivals, old and new, in an effort to capture a second MLR Shield. Coupling the partnership with an award-winning filmmaker in Goldfinch with the amazing amount of access provided by the Chicago Hounds will take our fans inside the game in a way we have been wanting to do for a long time.”

“We are excited to have helped put this deal together and to have the Chicago Hounds be at the forefront of the story for season one,” commented Peter Bernick, majority owner of the Chicago Hounds. “We believe as an organization that we have the players, coaching and management to compete for a championship in a very exciting MLR this year. We feel [that by] telling the story of rugby in America, the Hounds and MLR will grow the game and its audience and bring fans old and new a behind-the-scenes look at what we love so much about the game of rugby and its characters.”

Producer Julian Oliver added, ​​“The series is an unprecedented ten-year commitment to the journey of young athletes at the forefront of making American sporting history. There exists already a proud narrative within Chicago, the Hounds, the fans and the filmmakers sharing this passionate identity. Special moments in film originate from rare opportunities like this.”