World Series Rugby has undergone a complete rebrand as they prepare for a bigger 2019 season that so far involves six teams from six countries. Renamed Global Rapid Rugby, the competition will continue their push into Asia, with teams from Singapore and Malaysia entering the fray.
The brain child of Andrew Forrest following the Western Force’s axing from Super Rugby, Rapid Rugby has branded themselves as “a fast-paced, free-scoring, full-on festival” and have a long-term goal of spreading the game throughout the Asia Pacific area.
The fastest growing part of the planet, World Rugby have focused on growing rugby in the Asia region for years, with the 2019 Rugby World Cup set to take place in Japan, and Global Rapid Rugby hopes to go a step further. Plans are already underway to immediately develop rugby in schools and communities in China and India.
“It’s a brilliant new name for a brave new beginning,” Forrest said in a statement on the Rapid Rugby website. “Rapid Rugby is the perfect name that speaks directly to what we will deliver in 2019 and beyond – a dynamic sports and entertainment concept.
“We are working hard on taking the success of the 2018 series in Perth and super-charging it for the Asia Pacific region and I am confident it’s going to be even more innovative and exciting than what people experienced this year.”
Western Force remains involved in the competition, however the series will take on a home and away format in 2019 with new teams from Hawaii, Singapore and Malaysia joining Fiji in season 2019. The final make-up of the series continues to grow as Rapid Rugby looks to add teams from New Zealand and Japan.
According to the Rapid Rugby website, the competition is still focused on adding a New South Wales side to the series in either 2019 or 2020 despite the setback with their initial choice in western Sydney.
Expansion plans from 2021 to 2023 are already underway with countries such as China, India, the UAE, Sri Lanka and Korea in Rapid Rugby’s sights.
“Witnessing the quality of rugby on the field this year, the way the fans responded and how everyone else took notice says clearly ‘Rapid Rugby is the future’,” Forrest said.
Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has also backed the competition after his side, the Panasonic Wild Knights’ 95 point finale to the inaugural season.
“Andrew’s timing is impeccable,” Deans stated on the website. “Asia’s the future. Economically, population-wise – the interest is already there from a market perspective.
“They’ll tell you there’s a greater support base in places like China than there is domestically in Australia and New Zealand. So the scope for growth there is significant.
“The concept’s great … not only the on-field in terms of speed and incentive to attack from any part of the ground but the whole event.”
Yet to be confirmed, the season is expected to start from February and run to mid-June with AUS$1 million in prize money up for grabs.