May 9, 2022 - Sports

Meet the Jackals, Dallas' professional rugby team

Dallas Jackals full team photo

Rugby teams are large. Photo courtesy of the Dallas Jackals

The Dallas Jackals team president wants more people to know there’s another professional sports team in North Texas.

  • The Major League Rugby team is playing its first season in Arlington.

Driving the news: In response to a CBS tweet asking which city should get an NFL expansion team if one were announced, Mayor Eric Johnson offered up southern Dallas last week.

  • But, there’s already another local football-like professional team looking to expand its fanbase.

Details: Major League Rugby was founded in 2018 with seven teams and has added six since then, including Dallas' own Jackals.

The team played its first home match in February at Choctaw Stadium, the former home of the Texas Rangers.

  • The ballpark seating and field were altered for the XFL, which briefly played there before suspending operations in 2020. Seats were added in the outfield, and the rugby pitch stretches from where third base once was to center and right field.

The basics: Rugby players must all be able to run, tackle, catch and throw. The sport evolved from soccer and is the predecessor to football.

  • There are two 40-minute halves with very little stoppage during play. And the ball can only be passed back or to the side.

How to score: Most of the ways to score involve kicking the ball.

  • Try — worth five points and is similar to a touchdown in American football. The ball must be touched to the ground across the try line (think end zone).
  • Conversion — worth two points for kicking the ball through goal posts after a try and is similar to football’s extra point after a touchdown.
  • Penalty kick — worth three points after the opposing team commits a foul. Also kicked like a field goal.

What they're saying: "When you learn the basics, it’s really fun to watch because it’s moving all the time. It’s not all the punctuated stops of American football," team president Scott Sonju tells Axios.

  • Rugby also "transcends rivalries, culture, politics and religion" and still has the ability to bring people together, something lost in a lot of American sports, Sonju said.

The intrigue: The opposing teams and referees share a meal together after the match. At Choctaw Stadium, they meet in the Jack Daniels Club.

For the record: The Jackals have yet to win, including the team's first-ever match played against Texas' other rugby team, the Austin Gilgronis.

  • The Gilgronis are No. 1 in the Western Conference. The Jackals are last.

Go deeper: What it's like to go to a Jackals rugby game.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Dallas stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more