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New Ottawa rugby league team now expected to take the field in 2021

Eric Perez, the founder and CEO of the Toronto Wolfpack (left), Wolfpack head coach Paul Rowley and Toronto Mayor John Tory hold up jerseys of the new rugby league team in Toronto, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. The governing body of English rugby league has accepted a bid to put a franchise in Ottawa. Perez, who helped bring the sport to North America via the Wolfpack, is part of a Canadian consortium that acquired England's Hemel Stags team in the hope of moving it to Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson

It appears Ottawa will wait until 2021 to field its new rugby league team.

Eric Perez, founder and the first CEO of the Toronto Wolfpack, has already earned the green light from the governing body of English rugby league to move the Hemel Stags.

WATCH (Sept. 11, 2018): The Toronto Wolfpack on their second season
Click to play video: 'The Toronto Wolfpack on their second season' The Toronto Wolfpack on their second season
The Toronto Wolfpack on their second season – Sep 11, 2018

Perez heads a Canadian consortium that acquired the Stags franchise in the hope of moving it to Ottawa. Hemel withdrew from the third-tier League 1 for the 2019 season with an eye initially to returning in 2020.

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“It’s not 100 per cent certain but it’s pretty much we’re going to start in 2021,” Perez said Monday.

“To do it properly and to make sure that we have enough time to meet our business objectives personally, I think that 2021 is the best move,” he added.

READ MORE: Governing body of English rugby league approves franchise move to Ottawa

The Ottawa team, which will start in League 1 as the Wolfpack did in its inaugural season in 2017, is slated to play at TD Place Stadium.

The Wolfpack won promotion to the second-tier Championship in 2017, narrowly missing out on graduating to the elite Super League last year. Toronto currently tops the Championship table at 21-1-0.

READ MORE: Ottawa to host 2020 Bingham Cup, drawing amateur rugby teams from around the globe

Perez’s ownership group is working with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), which owns the CFL Redblacks, OHL 67’s and USL Championship’s Ottawa Fury FC (USL). OSEG also manages TD Place stadium and arena.

The Stags debuted in 1981 in Hemel Hempstead, located 35 kilometres northwest of London.

Now prepping the Ottawa franchise, Perez said he will step down from the Wolfpack’s board of directors while maintaining a minority ownership role. David Argyle, a Toronto-based Australian entrepreneur, heads up the Wolfpack ownership group.

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READ MORE: ‘I am firing myself’: Toronto Wolfpack CEO, chairman resigns after racism scandal

In addition to Toronto, the RFL currently has two French clubs in the Catalan Dragons (in the Super League) and Toulouse Olympique (in the Championship).

Rugby league is the 13-man version of the game, distinct from 15-man rugby union.

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