Following the decision to cut the Western Force from Super Rugby in 2017, Global Rapid Rugby (GRR) was set up by Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, as a way to keep competitive, high-level rugby in Western Australia.
Laws have been tweaked in the competition to promote a faster-paced game, with Forrest keen to maximise the entertainment value of the sport. Higher value tries, powerplays and half-time shows have been a feature of the fledgling tournament.
The inaugural season was initially slated for 2019, although Forrest instead made the decision to have a ‘showcase’ season, with Force taking on a World XV in the season opener, before facing South China Tigers and Asia Pacific Dragons in the Asia Showcase Series and Fijian Latui and Samoa Kagifa in the Pacific Showcase Series.
Force went undefeated in those home and away fixtures and their last contest is today against the Malaysia Valkie, a team which is an amalgamation of the Malaysian national team and the Valkie Falcons from the Currie Cup in South Africa.
Prior to the game, Forrest confirmed that the inaugural season of GRR, with a full home and away slate of fixtures, would take place in 2020.
“We decided to use 2019 to introduce the Asia Pacific to Global Rapid Rugby’s brand of the game and this proved to be a good call. The players loved it, communities embraced it and it has been great for rugby,” Forrest said.
“We have formed the strong foundation needed and look forward to bringing Rapid Rugby’s innovative and entertaining game style back to our region’s growing fan base, with AU$1 million in prize money.”
“Saturday night’s turnout will be a timely reminder to the nation that Western Australia is a critical part of the future of rugby not just in this country but across the entire region.
“It’s the people of Western Australia that have kept the sport alive in this state – they have continued to form the Sea of Blue, they have backed Rapid Rugby, they will demonstrate amazing support for the Wallabies here tomorrow night and prove to Rugby Australia that WA will always be a Force in this game.”
In Forrest’s confirmation that the first full season would take place next year, he also mentioned the possibility of including Japanese teams in the competition, with the Panasonic Wild Knights having previously been linked to joining.
With a proposal currently with the Japanese Rugby Football Union over a new-look domestic competition in 2021, with the 12 venues set to be used for the upcoming Rugby World Cup playing home to 12 new club sides, there could be a number of Japanese teams that don’t make that cut looking for a new home in the near future.
Forrest has also previously highlighted nations such as China, India and Sri Lanka as having untapped potential and as possible additions to the GRR competition.
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