Competition delay causes uncertainty

Andrew Forrest
Andrew Forrest
The competition which has been causing a lot of angst in the south has been delayed for a year.

The Global Rapid Rugby competition was set to start in the next few weeks, but has now been moved to 2020.

The brainchild of Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, it was a competition said to be involving teams from Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Japan, the United States and the Western Force.

Forrest was a vocal critic of the dumping of the Force from the Super Rugby competition in 2016 and vowed, after a few games last year involving the Force, to start up a competition this season. The competition was supposed to begin later this month, although that timeline was pushed out to next month in the past couple of weeks.

It was announced yesterday that the competition has now been delayed for a year as Forrest struggled to get everything organised in a short time frame and has decided to postpone the competition for a year, until next season.

A team from Singapore - the Asia Pacific Dragons - was to be part of the new competition, and was being coached by former Otago Boys' High School first XV coach Ryan Martin.

Players from the South have moved to the team, and hooker Sekonaia Pole, lock Joketani Koroi, halfback Kurt Hammer, loose forward Nalia Dawai, halfback Melani Matavo and winger Zac Harrison-Jones have all signed with the Dragons. No8 Dylan Nel was also understood to be playing for the side.

But with the team now having no competition to play in, its future is up in the air.

The players were in Singapore and had signed contracts, so where they go from here is unclear. The season was scheduled to go until June.

The players departing for the Lion city and not playing club rugby has caused worry with Dunedin clubs. They were upset players would not play any club rugby and then come back and play for Otago, lessening the incentive for players to stick with club rugby.

It was also felt Martin was recruiting players to his team when he was part of the Otago set-up. Martin was part of the Otago Mitre 10 Cup team coaching unit but did not have a current contract with the union.

Forrest was reported as saying the Force would still play games this season, but again details were sketchy.


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