Why Twiggy’s “IPL of rugby” won’t work

Thomas English Roar Rookie

By , Thomas English is a Roar Rookie

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    The Indo Pacific Rugby Championship is a weird and wonderful concept.

    Weird in the sense that it (likely) will involve six different teams from six different countries that aren’t traditional rugby nations.

    Wonderful in the sense that it will re-establish the Western Force.

    But any competition that hopes to succeed needs financial sustainability and relevance.

    With Andrew Forrest behind the wheel, this competition looks to be in a good spot.

    And that brings us to relevance. Exactly what will this competition mean to the average sports fan in the Indo-Pacific region?

    While the intent to grow rugby in Asia ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup is commendable, will this venture even work? Is the competition just a gimme for the Force?

    The Western Australia side are the only locked-in team, with places like China, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Kuala Lumpur, Colombo, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Seoul all being thrown around as possibilities for clubs.

    None of these places are traditional rugby strongholds and none currently follow the sport in large numbers.

    If the Sunwolves are anything to go by, starting a team form scratch is ambitious at best.

    When you factor in that the Force won’t have played a game for 18-plus months, the comp may lack for depth and competitiveness.

    Free-to-air TV seems to be a big drawcard, but what Aussie network will broadcast a competition that only involves one local team, playing out of WA, when the major commercial broadcasters are all based in the eastern states?

    What fan would seriously be interested in watching Singapore vs Hong Kong at 10pm on a weekend?

    This is innovative thinking from Twiggy, but it won’t bring in many supporters, nor will we see top-class competition anytime soon. Let’s hope that this competition does succeed however, for the sake of the game.