Global Rapid Rugby gained a lot of attention and growing excitement in 2018, and the positive impact on Asian rugby development looks inevitable. Although the plans to launch the new innovative rugby series have been delayed until 2010, rugby fans in Asia should still be treated to the 2019 Showcase series.
Global Rapid Rugby has said, “ In 2019, the Showcase Series will travel throughout Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australasia to give fans, viewers, players, and coaches a live taste of what is to come in Season One in 2020, when teams will compete for an AUD$1 million first prize.”
Rapid Rugby Head of Rugby Matt Hodgson will continue to work with marquee players around 2019 and 2020 and added: “ I am confident the 2019 series will be a great demonstration of what a full season of increased ball-in-play time, attacking, aggressive, high scoring rugby will look like.”
Winners of the Asia and the Pacific series will access an AUD50,000 prize purse to assist local community rugby programs.
The Asia Showcase Series will begin on March 29 and end on 12th May 2019.
The Pacific Showcase Series will be played from May 18th to 21st June 2019.
Teams will play at least two matches in their home market. Although GRR said that “construction work on Samoa’s main stadium means its ‘home’ games will be played in Queensland and Auckland.”
This is what we know about the proposed format and rule changes Global Rapid Rugby will introduce in 2020.
One of the more controversial aspects of the Global Rapid Rugby tournament is the proposed law changes. The new and revised laws are designed to increase ball-in-play time.
A Power Try is awarded when a team’s play is initiated from within their own 22m area and results in a try with no break in continuity of possession by the scoring team. In addition, the plans are to have coloured lights on the goal posts to alert fans to when a Power Try is “live” (green lights), “dead” (solid red lights) or “scored” (flashing green lights). The result is that the Power Try offers a team the 9 points on conversion.
Rapid Rugby teams may make up to 12 player substitutions during the game, as opposed to the current 8 substitutions.
Lineouts can be taken as soon as the throwing team is ready, therefore they do not have to wait for their opponent or the referee.
Instead of the regular 80-minute allotment, Rapid Rugby games will be fast-paced, and a total of 70-minute total game time will be played.
It’s believed teams will lose possession if kicking to touch, even if kicking from their own 22m area.
The 2020 season should see 8 team involved which means 14 rounds, 56 games plus four finals. The competition is due to have teams from Fiji, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Samoa, Fiji, and more TBC. However many teams have not 100% confirmed participation or even unveiled names so this is speculation at this point in time.
We would expect this to be a no-brainer due to the affiliation of Forrest with the Force. Will home games only be played in Perth and the exact roster etc are still to be confirmed.
The Fiji Rugby Union confirmed their participation with the team playing as the Fijian Latui. They played in the 2019 Pacific Showcase Series.
The HKRFU confirmed their involvement and the name of the team in late 2018. The South China Tigers are due to consist of players from the “HKRU’s Elite Rugby Programme and Elite Sevens Athletes Programme, including Hong Kong men’s national fifteen and seven-a-side squad members, players from the HKRU Premiership, and established stars from around the rugby world.” However the team logo, playing kit, management team and squad for the inaugural season are yet to be announced.
Not much is known about the Malaysian representation but it is believed to be backed by South African Currie Cup division one club Falcons.
The Singapore based franchise is called the Asia Pacific Dragons. The attack coach is confirmed as Ryan Martin with a sleuth of Otago NPB players are confirmed or rumoured to play. These include Halfbacks Kurt Hammer and Melani Matavao, loose forward/lock Joketani Koroi and hooker Sekonaia Pole, loose forward Naulia Dawai, back Zac Harrison-Jones while Otago No8 Dylan Nel is believed to also be heading to the Pacific Dragons. Otago winger Mitchell Scott was also linked with a move to the Dragons.
There is also speculation that millionaire Richard Fale, a Tongan-born politician will manage the Samoa-based side which is also likely to include Tongan players. The team will be potentially playing home games in New Zealand and Australia in the 2020 Championship. Kagifa Samoa played in the 2019 Pacific Showcase Series.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Japanese team will be affiliated with Top League side the Panasonic Wild Knights. However, a second Japanese side may join in the future, possibly via a privately run venture as opposed to existing corporate-backed set-up.
There are plans for more teams from China, India, UAE, Sri Lanka and Korea for 2020 and beyond.
As part of the expansion, Rapid Rugby is seeking to develop “rugby in schools and communities, establishing player and coach pathways and engaging the fan base.”
If this comes to fruition it bodes well for the growth of professional rugby in Asia and for the exposure of the sport throughout the region.