The proposal for a Pacific-based Super Rugby team has effectively been scrapped after failing to secure the required funding for the expansion and support from the Fiji Rugby Union was withdrawn.
Pacific Rugby Players chief executive Aayden Clarke told Radio New Zealand the Fiji Rugby Union pulled out after the bid was unable to find the minimum annual investment demanded by SANZAAR (US$12 million).
“SANZAAR have a fairly high bar in terms of the financial needs of the team to be able to be able to compete and be sustainable in that competition,” Clarke said.
“The decision was made within the Pacific that financially it didn’t stack up.
“The losers in that, if they were to put all their eggs in that basket of having a franchise team, would probably be community rugby and club rugby, and wouldn’t allow them to have the necessary funds to be able to serve the game at those levels.”
With Fiji’s withdrawal, the team is also left without a home base after a feasibility study commissioned last year by NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the proposed team should be based in Suva while also playing games in Samoa and Tonga.
Clarke added the decision to pull out was sensible albeit disappointing and reports of SANZAAR looking to cull the Sunwolves from the competition made the chances of introducing a Pacific team even less likely.