Pacific Islands’ Super bid won’t fly
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.