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New Hawaii club backed by ex-All Blacks won't play in 2021 MLR

By Online Editors
(Photo by Michael Bradley/AFP via Getty Images)

Kanaloa Hawaii, the proposed new club backed by a raft of former All Blacks, will not be joining the 2021 Major League Rugby season in America.

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Icons of the Test game such as Jerome Kaino and Joe Rokocoko were involved in the launch of the club that was to be the first Maori and Polynesian owned and operated professional rugby set-up in the world. 

It’s ultimate aim was to develop a team that would participate in Super Rugby in years to come, but it’s initial first step – joining the 2021 MLR – has now been scuppered.

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A statement from the American league read: “Major League Rugby (MLR) announced that the exclusive negotiating agreement it executed with Kanaloa Hawai’i Rugby Ltd has expired.  

“MLR and Kanaloa Hawai’i have not reached any agreement by which this team may join MLR for the 2021 season. 

“MLR commissioner George Killebrew has encouraged this potential ownership group to continue with its development plans so that it may be in a position to join MLR for a future MLR season.”

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A letter written by club CEO Tracy Atiga in July had stated: “By taking on the responsibility of a club, the owners can provide direct solutions to challenges that Maori and Pasifika players face in the rugby industry.”

However, that plan soon ran into trouble, particularly when concerns were raised in Hawaii by a local senator who questioned the plans that Kanaloa would be playing MLR there.

Having had their initial application accepted by MLR HQ in Dallas, Kanaloa had 90 days to finalise terms and meet the necessary benchmarks before their membership was to be formally ratified ahead of the 2021 expansion season for the American tournament. 

That deadline has now passed, with the MLR claiming they are planning for next year minus the newly proposed Hawaii club.

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They have the potential to become so many rugby fans' second favourite team.

Posted by RugbyPass on Friday, 10 July 2020

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