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Toronto Arrows, Melrose Enter Professional Development Partnership

September 12, 2022 - Major League Rugby (MLR) - Toronto Arrows News Release

TORONTO, ON - The Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club is pleased to announce that it has entered a professional development partnership with Scotland's Melrose Rugby Club.

The partnership, which features an exchange program between the two organizations, will see Arrows players earn development opportunities in Scotland's Tennent's National League Division 1; conversely, Melrose's players also stand to gain experience with the Arrows' Senior and Academy teams.

The first players to benefit from the new partnership are flanker James O'Neill and centre / wing Mitch Richardson, who have joined Melrose for the initial stages of the Scottish National League 1 season.

"This partnership was sparked when Melrose's touring side faced our Academy in Burlington earlier this summer, and it came together pretty seamlessly," said Mark Winokur, Toronto Arrows Chief Operating Officer and General Manager. "Both sides quickly saw the potential that could come from working together, and with the bulk of the Scottish National League 1 schedule leading right into the Major League Rugby preseason, this partnership has the capacity to pay dividends both short-term and long-term."

"Much like our recent partnership with the Hong Kong Rugby Union, this is another example of how the Arrows are committed to exploring and providing top-tier development opportunities for our players to augment their skillset during MLR's off-season."

"James and Mitch are two strong, up-and-coming Canadian players who enjoyed breakout campaigns for us this past year, and will undoubtedly benefit from their experience in Melrose's highly-regarded training and playing environment. They'll be primed to hit the ground running when they return."

O'Neill, 24, featured in 10 matches (six starts) in his first MLR season, and posted 394 carry metres on 61 carries, 185 ruck arrivals, 79 tackles (84% completion), eight tackle breaks, seven breakdown steals, two linebreaks, one offload and one try over his first campaign with the club.

Richardson, 26, has spent four years with the Arrows, and has earned 26 caps for the club since its inaugural season in 2019. The back has accrued 795 carry metres on 95 carries, 96 tackles, 13 tackle breaks, nine offloads, six linebreaks, and four tries over his four MLR campaigns.

Both players have re-signed with the Arrows for the 2023 MLR season, and will rejoin the team in Toronto in time for the start of preseason activities.

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