6 Dec 2018

Pacific Super Rugby bid comes up short

7:35 am on 6 December 2018

A proposed Pacific-based Super Rugby team is effectively dead in the water after failing to find the required funding.

Fijian flanker Peceli Yato in action

Fijian flanker Peceli Yato in action Photo: PANORAMIC

The Fiji Rugby Union have also pulled their support for the bid, leaving the team without a prospective home base.

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

But Pacific Rugby Players chief executive Aayden Clarke, who has been involved in the ongoing bid discussions, says the Fiji Rugby Union pulled the plug after the bid was unable to attract the $US12 million - the minimum annual investment demanded by SANZAAR.

"SANZAAR have a fairly high bar in terms of the financial needs of the team to be able to be able to compete and be sustainable in that competition," Clarke said.

"The decision was made within the Pacific that financially it didn't stack up.

"The losers in that, if they were to put all their eggs in that basket of having a franchise team, would probably be community rugby and club rugby, and wouldn't allow them to have the necessary funds to be able to serve the game at those levels."

He said the decision to pull out of the bid was a sensible one. "although very disappointing".

Clarke says while there was a lot of interest from corporate and private backers in the Pacific, many were unwilling to guarantee their support until a Super Rugby licence was confirmed.

Reports that Super Rugby's governing body, SANZAAR, want to shrink the competition from 15 to 14 teams make the prospect of a Pacific franchise even less likely, he added.