North American club Ottawa granted license by Rugby Football League

Toronto Wolfpack were the first North American side to enter British Rugby League. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Toronto Wolfpack were the first North American side to enter British Rugby League. PIC: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Halifax RLFC could soon be facing more than one trip across the Atlantic after the RFL agreed in principle to relocate Hemel Stags to Ottawa, Canada.

The RFL Board confirmed yesterday that Hemel Stags were to be relocated to the Canadian capital, Ottawa, from 2020.

At a meeting last month, Championship and League 1 clubs were in favour of Ottawa and New York joining the RFL structure from next season.

However, the New York bid have been told that they will need to work towards entering League 1 in 2021.

Halifax currently face two trips abroad during the regular season with visits to Toulouse Olympique and Toronto Wolfpack.

Toronto became the first transatlantic sports team when they joined League 1 in 2017.

They currently top the Championship table and are vying for a place in Super League next year.

An RFL statement confirmed: "Last month, the Rugby Football League was asked following a meeting of member clubs in Salford to conduct further due diligence on two overseas applications to play in Betfred League One from 2020 – one to relocate the Hemel Stags club to Ottawa in Canada, and the other for a new club in New York, USA.

"The application for Hemel Stags to be relocated to Ottawa has been accepted in principle – although both the RFL and the consortia have agreed that some further work is required before it can be confirmed that the Stags will be ready to start the 2020 season in Ottawa.

"With regard to the New York bid, the RFL and the consortium have agreed that entry into League One in time for 2020 is not achievable without placing the club under undue pressure, because it is a start-up operation without the benefit of existing operations already being in place, and due to some change in the ownership structure during the process.

"The RFL has therefore encouraged the club to work towards entry into League One in 2021."