Global Rapid Rugby, a new rugby competition featuring six teams and 10 rounds, has revealed the draw for its inaugural season that will see teams compete for $1 million in prizemoney.
The brainchild of Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, Global Rapid Rugby originated from the furore caused by Western Force’s loss of its Super Rugby status back in August 2017.
As a result, Forrest expressed his wish to form a new competition and Global Rapid Rugby began as a Perth-based exhibition series in 2018 before growing into a Showcase Series held earlier this year across seven Asia Pacific territories, featuring 70-minute matches, new rules and an emphasis on off-field entertainment for fans.
The Western Force will be joined by the Fijian Latui, Manuma Samoa, South China Tigers, Malaysia Valke and “Team Asia”, a sixth team to be based in Asia with whom negotiations are still continuing.
The competition will begin on Friday, March 13, with the grand final to be held in Perth on June 5 or 6.
Global Rapid Rugby chief executive, Mark Evans, said the combination of teams was a perfect blend for a competition designed to expand rugby’s appeal to both new and old fans.
“We are thrilled to be able to inject the excitement and energy of Rapid Rugby’s first home-and-away competition into these territories within the Asia Pacific region in 2020,” Evans said.
“The evolution from a showcase series to a home-and-away season will multiply the success we enjoyed this year in many ways.
“In particular, providing Fiji and Samoa with access to a full-scale, international competition is an enormous result for the sport worldwide.”
Three games each round will be staged across Friday, Saturday and Sundays although the exact dates, times and venue details are yet to be finalised.
“The ‘always entertaining’ Rapid Rugby philosophy is one of the things that sets us apart and I promise we will provide a fun, family-friendly atmosphere at all games in all venues throughout the season,” Evans added.
Force coach, Tim Sampson, said he was thrilled by the quality of the opposition and the challenge that awaits.
“We have been working towards this for a couple of years now.
“The chance to test ourselves week-in-week-out and playing internationally against quality opposition is extremely appetising,” Sampson said.
“Looking at the draw there will be some challenging periods, but there is no hiding from the fact we want to emulate this year and play footy that we enjoy playing and also that our wonderful supporters enjoy watching.”
Of the other four sides in Season 1, South China Tigers, Fijian Latui and Malaysia Valke were part of this year’s Rapid Rugby Showcase Series and are again supported by their local governing bodies.
Samoa also played this year, however, the 2020 team carries a different name and the backing of the Samoa Rugby Union.