Stakeholders behind the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship have hit out at Rugby Australia (RA) for putting a “major road block” in the path of establishing the new competition.
Billionaire mining tycoon Andrew Forrest had hoped to launch the Indo-Pacific Rugby Championship in 2018, devising the plan after Perth-based Western Force was axed by RA from the Super Rugby competition earlier this year.
Forrest needs RA approval before he can take the new event to be sanctioned by World Rugby. However, the West Australian newspaper said RA has issued a four-page letter of conditions that need to be met before they will agree to the tournament, including further funds from Forrest.
The West Australian said Forrest has already spent A$500,000 (€322,000/$381,000) on the plan with 20 people, including former Force captain Matt Hodgson (pictured) and Australia national team legend Michael Lynagh, presenting the proposal throughout the Indo-Pacific region and to World Rugby.
Forrest is said to be prepared to commit A$100m a year to the new competition, along with A$20m per year into a new Perth-based franchise and A$10m for a new rugby centre of excellence. The West Australian said Forrest could take the league overseas, or forge a true rebel competition, if talks with RA collapse.
Hodgson said: “We have now hit a major road block with Rugby Australia in relation to the endorsement of the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship. We are continuing negotiations, but the current Rugby Australia position is so un-commercial and unreasonable that it ensures the failure of the IPRC before it even starts.
“We have been trying to meet with the chair of the Rugby Australia working group but he is unavailable until next week even at this critical time. It remains obvious to us after three months of continuous negotiations that Rugby Australia doesn’t have the best interest of the Western Australian rugby community at heart.
“Rugby Australia’s demands include money to support east coast based programs rather than supporting the WA community, even as they are crippling our local rugby infrastructure. We will not be sending any more money over east, our money will remain for our people and to grow our game in Western Australia. We are not giving up – far from it.”
Organisers were said to be targeting the national rugby unions of China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Samoa, Singapore, South Korea and Sri Lanka for the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship, while there was also said to be significant interest in the proposal from New Zealand.