Global Rapid Rugby has revealed the draw for its inaugural season which will feature six teams, 10 rounds, a one-off final and $1 million in prizemoney.
Five of the teams that will fight for the Global Rapid Rugby season one title in 2020 were unveiled today, representing Australasia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.
The Western Force will be joined by the Fijian Latui, Manuma Samoa, South China Tigers, Malaysia Valke and "Team Asia", a sixth team to be based in Asia with whom negotiations are still continuing.
Competition will begin on Friday, March 13, with the grand final to be held in Perth on June 5 or 6.
Global Rapid Rugby chief executive Mark Evans said the combination of teams was a perfect blend for a competition designed to expand rugby’s appeal to both new and old fans.
“We are thrilled to be able to inject the excitement and energy of Rapid Rugby’s first home-and-away competition into these territories within the Asia Pacific region in 2020," Evans said.
“The evolution from a showcase series to a home-and-away season will multiply the success we enjoyed this year in many ways.
“In particular, providing Fiji and Samoa with access to a full-scale, international competition is an enormous result for the sport worldwide.”
Three games each round will be staged across Friday, Saturday and Sundays although the exact dates, times and venue details are yet to be finalised.
The Force will open their season on the weekend of March 13-15 against the Malaysian Valke in Perth, followed by games in Samoa and Fiji.
Evans said the opening season would be fast by name and nature.
🚨2020 SEASON REVEALED🚨— Western Force (@westernforce) November 14, 2019
The Force will battle it out against six teams for the first-ever @rapidrugby home-and-away competition. Find the full details ➡️ https://t.co/aCJ37OyS6R#BeTheForce #RapidRugby #WesternForce pic.twitter.com/dKKp6M3Prt
"A 10-round competition to decide the grand finalists will mean every match is critical,” Evans said.
“We have worked hard to ensure all teams’ travel times and days away from home are similar and I know all the teams and unions involved share our expectation around how even the competition will be.
“We hope all fans of elite sport get behind their teams and ensure loud and proud crowds provide a real home ground advantage.
“The ‘always entertaining’ Rapid Rugby philosophy is one of the things that sets us apart and I promise we will provide a fun, family-friendly atmosphere at all games in all venues throughout the season.”
Force coach Tim Sampson said he was thrilled by the quality of the opposition and the challenge that awaits.
“We have been working towards this for a couple of years now. The chance to test ourselves week-in-week-out and playing internationally against quality opposition is extremely appetising,” Sampson said.
“Looking at the draw there will be some challenging periods, but there is no hiding from the fact we want to emulate this year and play footy that we enjoy playing and also that our wonderful supporters enjoy watching.”
Of the other four sides in Season 1, South China Tigers, Fijian Latui and Malaysia Valke were part of this year’s Rapid Rugby Showcase Series and are again supported by their local governing bodies.
Samoa also played this year, however, the 2020 team carries a different name and the backing of the Samoa Rugby Union.
The brainchild of Australian businessman Andrew Forrest, Global Rapid Rugby features 70-minute matches, revolutionary new rules and an emphasis on off-field entertainment for fans, with the competition beginning as a Perth-based exhibition series in 2018.
Global Rapid Rugby 2020
Western Force: Global Rapid Rugby’s premier Showcase Series team and won Australia’s National Rugby Championship earlier this month.
Fijian Latui: Will take its amazing mix of flair and strength to all parts of the rugby-mad island nation and be just as tough to beat on foreign shores.
Manuma Samoa: An exciting, home-grown squad capable of anything, particularly on a redeveloped home stadium in Apia.
South China Tigers: From Hong Kong, the Tigers are sure to build on this year’s Global Rapid Rugby Asian Showcase and reach their powerful potential in 2020.
Malaysia Valke: Based in Kuala Lumpur, comprise some of both South Africa’s and Malaysia’s best domestic talent and a strong hunger to succeed.
Team Asia: Negotiations are nearing completion with a sixth team to be based in Asia.