Global Rapid Rugby launch pushed back to 2020

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Andrew Forrest has hit pause on the Global Rapid Rugby launch and pushed the start of the new competition back to 2020.

The competition was slated to kick off this year with a 60-game schedule but time has run out for the organisers, despite a memorandum of understanding signed by Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby with Forrest's Minderoo in recent months.

Forrest reportedly failed to finalise deals with two of the regions pencilled in for the competition this year and with the Rugby World Cup looming, the logistics of the competition proved too difficult to lock down in time..

Instead of staging the full tournament in 2019, a "Showcase Series" will be run around the regions that were to be involved in GRR.

  FORREST TAKES THE COVERS OFF RAPID RUGBY

In a statement, Forrest was confident the competition, with a $1 million prize, would run in 2020 

"In 2019, fans are going to get a real feel for how the entertainment experience we pioneered in Australia last year will evolve throughout the Asia Pacific. It will form a runway for the launch of an even bigger investment in 2020, once strong broadcasting arrangements are in place,” he said.

“Making Rapid Rugby a reality has required a considerable amount of courage and determination. That determination, and our vision, has not changed. The strategy required to realise it requires a strong foundation.”

Andrew Forrest and Force captain Ian Prior soak up the atmosphere. Photo: Getty ImagesBrad Paatsch, who has led the GRR management team in its development, said the group was still "determined" to get the competition off the ground.

“Our goal remains a big one, but we have long been determined to extend the limits of what is considered possible, in line with our philosophy to shake up the sport, its appeal in Asia and the overall off-field entertainment factor,” Paatsch said.

“With the World Cup in Japan this year, now is the ideal time to capitalise on a growing interest in the sport in our region.”

This year, the Western Force played a similar type series, albeit only in Perth, against teams from the Pacific Islands, Asia and two Super Rugby teams in the Rebels and Crusaders.

A schedule is yet to be released for this Showcase Series but it is expected to be announced in the coming months.

The Force also announced the retirement of flyhalf Peter Grant overnight due to persistent concussion problems.