The competition is backed by a Western Australian billionaire and emerged in the wake of the Perth-based Western Force’s axing from the Super Rugby competition which involves provincial teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and Argentina.
Five of the six teams are set, with the Fijian Latui, Manuma Samoa, South China Tigers and Malaysia Valke joining the Force and a yet-to-be finalized Asia-based team. Global Rapid Rugby chief executive Mark Evans said the new league was designed to expand rugby’s appeal.
The rules are based on traditional 15-a-side rugby but encourage attacking, running styles and discourage kicks for touch. There’s bonus points for a so-called “Power Try” when the attacking movement starts from inside a team’s defensive quarter. Lineout throws for most kicks that go into touch will be taken from where the kicker’s position was, so the emphasis will be on keeping the ball in play. The game has been cut by 10 minutes, with 35-minute halves, and rolling substitutions can be made to keep the play flowing.
“The evolution from a showcase series to a home-and-away season will multiply the success we enjoyed this year in many ways,” Evans said. “In particular, providing Fiji and Samoa with access to a full-scale, international competition is an enormous result for the sport worldwide.
“Season 1 is definitely fast by name and nature. A 10-round competition to decide the grand finalists will mean every match is critical.” Three games will be staged each round from March 13, with the Force opening the season at home against Valke before traveling for games in Samoa and Fiji.
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