Pa­cific Is­lands’ Su­per bid won’t fly

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Sport -

An am­bi­tious bid to set up a Pa­cific Is­lands Su­per Rugby team has failed af­ter com­pe­ti­tion or­gan­is­ers de­cided it was not com­mer­cially vi­able, the Fiji Rugby Union said.

In­clud­ing a Pa­cific team in the south­ern hemi­sphere com­pe­ti­tion was seen as a gamechanger for rugby in the is­lands, a hot­bed of tal­ent where top play­ers have long headed over­seas to chase more lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Fiji rugby chief John O’Con­nor con­firmed that a joint bid from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga had been sub­mit­ted in June to Su­per Rugby govern­ing body San­zaar.

He said San­zaar had praised as­pects of the bid but ul­ti­mately re­jected it on com­mer­cial grounds.

Rugby fans have floated the idea of a com­bined Pa­cific team for years, but it has al­ways floun­dered on eco­nomic grounds.

The re­mote is­lands lack the eco­nomic base to at­tract ma­jor spon­sors, fa­cil­i­ties are poor and the fi­nan­cially strapped rugby unions of all three nations have faced ma­jor gov­er­nance is­sues in re­cent years.

In the mean­time, their best play­ers have left for New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Europe.

The Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion cur­rently has 15 teams play­ing in five nations that strad­dle nu­mer­ous time zones, mak­ing salaries and ac­com­mo­da­tion ex­pen­sive.

San­zaar has strug­gled to pre­vent the com­pe­ti­tion be­com­ing bloated.

Fur­ther changes are afoot from 2021, with re­ports in Aus­tralia suggest­ing Ja­pan’s un­der­per­form­ing Sun­wolves could be the lat­est team to face the axe.

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