Andrew Forrest introduced the new Indo-Pacific league on Tuesday in response to the ARU’s Supreme Court victory.
The Western Force lost their appeal at the Supreme Court of NSW on Tuesday. This will result in a decision to axe the Western Force<.span> from Super Rugby. However, just two hours after, Andrew Forrest announced a “new dawn” for Australian Rugby. This will take the form of an Indo-Pacific rugby league.
Forrest’s comments during the recent interview indicated that teams from the Pacific Islands and South-East Asia will be included in this Indo-Pacific league. There are going to be six teams playing 15-a-side rugby, with the possibility of a 7-a-side competition.
Who is behind the Indo-Pacific Competition?
Nobody in Australia could pull off this daring plan like Andrew Forrest, a man who has a reputation for funding issues close to his heart. For the league to succeed, he must step up his financial input. His funding to start up the competition and support it into the future will be integral.
The Indo-Pacific league was described by Forrest, coach Dave Wessels and emotional ex-captain Matt Hodgson in their interviews as being a new step for rugby.
“The new dawn has started” – Andrew Forrest
The inclusion of women’s rugby into this league is one that will create much-needed media attention. More importantly, the quality of women’s rugby is at an all-time high after the World Cup. Therefore it is a shrewd idea by Forrest to attempt to include them in his plans.
However, the main idea discussed was for the development of rugby in Pacific Island and Asian countries and, most notably South-East Asian countries.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this idea is the inclusion of Asian teams. While there is a huge potential audience, the main issue is the rugby ability of these nations.
Their rugby experience is mainly from the low-level Asian Rugby Championship. They simply don’t have the rugby ability yet to be able to compete with the other teams.
However, they will improve with experience against these stronger teams. Who knows, perhaps Andrew Forrest’s vision will catch on with Asian fans. And if these people begin to take an interest in the sport, this league could be very successful.
We’ve already seen the popularity of cricket in India reach huge heights and for the most part, improve the sport. Therefore, if this rugby league is marketed right to these Asian fans, we could see a similar result. Granted, this is a tough ask given the lack of popularity currently. However, there is no harm in trying to create change in the sport for the better.
The IPL of rugby
This competition will face many problems. These range from the low-skill level of Asian teams to the likely financial loss in early stages. There will be more issues ahead. Keeping star players and enticing more into the new competition will be tough.
Dave Wessels stated their goal was to create the “IPL of rugby“. If this goal is somehow achieved, then rugby can continue to blossom. And there’s no better man to have at the helm in this Indo-Pacific rugby league than Andrew Forrest.
Author: David Lind
David lives in Perth, Australia, but is a born and bred Kiwi. He spends his time between studies and running the drinks for his cricket club. His articles on the 1014 allow him to let out his rugby feelings online rather than at his mates.