7 Dec 2018

Sport: Fiji confirms Pacific Super Rugby bid unsuccessful

11:04 am on 7 December 2018

The Fiji Rugby Union has confirmed a bid to host a Pacific Super Rugby franchise was unsuccessful.

A feasibility study, commissioned by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year, recommended a Pacific side be based in Suva and also play home games in Samoa and Tonga.

The FRU said it submitted a bid to Super Rugby's governing body SANZAAR in June on behalf of itself, the Tonga and Samoa Rugby Unions.

But CEO John O'Connor said after several rounds of meetings and discussions they were informed at the end of August the bid was unsuccessful.

He said SANZAAR determined the bid would not provide a boost to broadcasting revenues and did not have the funding required to underwrite a Super Rugby franchise.

Fiji Rugby CEO John O'Connor greets players.

Fiji Rugby CEO John O'Connor greets players. Photo: Fiji Corrections Service

Hawaiian hopes not so Super

John O'Connor revealed the FRU also had initial preliminary discussions with Richard Fale, who heads a Hawaii-based consortium that is also keen to enter Super Rugby.

He said the Hawaii group submitted a separate bid for a Pacific Island team to enter Super Rugby from 2021 that would be based in the United States.

But the FRU did not support the bid since it proposed to initially use players of Pacific heritage who were already capped by countries including New Zealand, Australia and England, and were not eligible to represent Fiji, Samoa and Tonga at test level.

A consortium fronted by Richard Fale wants to base a Super Rugby franchise in Hawaii.

A consortium fronted by Richard Fale wants to base a Super Rugby franchise in Hawaii. Photo: Facebook

Mr Fale confirmed to RNZ in September it was keen to bankroll a team and was in discussions with SANZAAR.

He said his group would have no trouble raising the minimum annual investment of 12 million US dollars demanded by SANZAAR but would need to know the long-term future of the competition before making any final decision.

In an email to RNZ Pacific this week, Mr Fale said "a lot of what we are seeing and learning about Super Rugby is concerning for us."

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos

SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos Photo: Supplied:SABC

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald this week said Super Rugby was set to be reduced to 14 teams from 2021, with plans to ditch the conference-based system and return to a straight round-robin.

But Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos rejected those claims and insisted no final decisions have been made on the future of the competition.