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Breakaway rugby competition given go-ahead

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New 'Global Rapid Rugby' tournament given green-light by World Rugby

A new club competition, coined Global Rapid Rugby (GRR), has been given the preliminary green-light by World Rugby and is set to debut in February.

The competition, which has been founded by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, is set to feature eight teams based in the Asia Pacific region and has been born out of the ‘World Series Rugby’ tournament, which ran this year.

World Series Rugby saw Western Force, who Forrest owns and who were cut from Super Rugby last year, taking on the ‘A’ teams of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, as well as a representative side from Hong Kong, and club sides the Melbourne, Rebels, Crusaders and Panasonic Wild Knights.

Instead of being an exhibition tour for the Force, GRR will be a standalone competition, boasting a $1 million top prize and some interesting law changes, such as reducing the games to 70 minutes in duration, and parcelling it into 90-minute broadcasts. Forrest is hopeful that these tweaks to the laws, such as denying teams the option to kick out on the full from within the 22, will improve ball-in-play times to close to 55%, with a new, more entertaining product the key unique selling point of the fledgling competition.

The tournament will be administered by the Hong Kong Rugby Union and is set to take place over 14 rounds, with 56 games and four finals.

The mining magnate has also been outspoken on his desire to lure some of the world’s top players to the competition, stating that GRR is intent on recruiting 20 of the top 100 players in the world and then distributing them among the participating teams, depending on each team’s personnel needs.

Those teams will include the Western Force and then one side from each of Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji and Samoa, as well as two planned teams from Japan, one of which will be provided by the union and the other by a private consortium.

Should the competition prove to be a success, Forrest is already considering expansion plans in China, India, Sri Lanka, the UAE and South Korea.

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New 'Global Rapid Rugby' tournament given green-light by World Rugby