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Forrest targets 2018 launch for Indo-Pacific rugby tournament

Billionaire mining tycoon Andrew Forrest has revealed further plans for his proposed Indo-Pacific Rugby Championships, which he hopes to launch in 2018.

Forrest (pictured), who has spearheaded the initiative after Western Force was axed by the Australian Rugby Union from the Super Rugby competition, indicated that a Perth-based franchise would be joined by at least six other teams.

Forrest will begin negotiating with the national rugby unions of China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Samoa, Singapore, South Korea and Sri Lanka, while there is also significant interest in the proposal from New Zealand, according to the Australian newspaper.

Forrest has also said that he does not intend to go head-to-head with Super Rugby in terms of scheduling, although the new tournament will overlap with the Australian National Rugby Championship next year. To address this issue, Forrest has offered to sponsor the National Rugby Championship.

“We envision the future of rugby union as a most popular global competition in the fastest growing consumer market in the world, where over 60 per cent of the world’s people live in the same time zone,” Forrest said.

"We are prepared to go toe to toe for the first time in Australian rugby's history with anything that is put on the table for an Australian player from Europe or Japan or the other destinations where our 130-odd Australian, Super Rugby-standard players are now residing.”

The Australian Rugby Union said that it “remains committed to maintaining a strong rugby presence in Western Australia and will explore all options in this regard,” according to the Reuters news agency.