Hopes of Pacific Island Super Rugby team seem to be dwindling as World League negotiations put a cloud over the future of Super Rugby, according to a report by Sydney Morning Herald.
It is believed the Fiji Rugby Union submitted a proposal to join SANZAAR’s Super Rugby competition in June for a Fijian franchise but are unable to meet the financial demands placed upon the entrants. It is believed a franchise would require a reported $15-$19 million to be sustainable.
World Rugby’s own proposed World League has SANZAAR occupied, delaying any resolution to what the future of the Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship competitions looks like post-2019.
The 12-team World League concept, which received endorsement at World Rugby’s Executive Committee last month, has taken priority, pushing back Super Rugby negotiations too early 2019.
The World League is seen as a ‘golden egg’ opportunity, a concept that could significantly increase broadcast revenue for all nations. It is believed to have the support in principle of most nations but the distribution of the money will be a key negotiation point, with SANZAAR’s current rights currently representing only a third of all global broadcast revenue.
If it falls over, Super Rugby talks will continue with hopes of a Pacific Super Rugby team staying alive, however FRU’s proposal already looks dead and buried. If World League is agreed upon, it could be the death knell for a Pacific team. Fiji has hosted successfully Super Rugby fixtures in Suva the last few years but lacks the commercial and broadcast potential to entice SANZAAR on its own.
Another option for the FRU could potentially be turning to mining magnate Andrew Forrest for a team in his World Series Rugby, which has so far failed to get up and running.
An investment consortium backed by NFL-players out of Hawaii had also offered to fund a Pacific Super Rugby team, but only if it was based out of Hawaii and agreed to base matches in the U.S. If the backers can bring the required funding to the table, it could be the most probable solution for a Pacific Rugby team, bringing SANZAAR an entry point into the US-market which in the long-term could be fruitful.
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