The 2021 season for the franchise-based Global Rapid Rugby (GRR) competition has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said on Wednesday. The competition, backed by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, had suspended its inaugural season after one round due to the pandemic before cancelling it entirely in April.

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A spokesperson for the Western Force team confirmed next season had also been scrapped. Robbie McRobbie, chief executive of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, which had helped organise the competition, said the uncertainty over the rugby calendar and the participating teams’ futures meant they had no option but to call it off.

“We’ve been in ongoing contact with the GRR team and over the weekend they came to the conclusion that putting on a competition in 2021 was not going to be viable,” he was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.

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GRR was set up by Forrest after the Perth-based Force were removed from Super Rugby following the 2017 season. Its first two competitions in 2018 and 2019 were classed as exhibition seasons as organisers tested the concept.

“It’s disappointing from our point of view because we really believed that Andrew had come up with a really good product in terms of the law variations, the shape of the game, the exciting initiatives, and the high-level teams involved,” McRobbie added.

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Speaking to RugbyPass during lockdown about GRR’s aborted first season, tournament CEO Mark Evans reflected: “A lot of learnings, quite a lot of it logistic… what the travel plans are, the scheduling, all that kind of stuff.

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“That now is lost. We only got one round away but we showed how flexible we can be as we moved the Shanghai team out of China, we moved the Hong Kong schedule with a month out. It was interesting and we learnt a lot. Hopefully, that will stand us in good stead.”

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