ARU set up working group for Indo-Pacific league

Sydney (AFP) –


The Australian Rugby Union said Friday it has established a working group to assist in the development of the new Indo-Pacific Rugby Championship.

The group will be headed by former Wallabies flanker and current ARU board member Brett Robinson and includes key high performance, commercial and legal representatives from the ARU management team.

"The ARU is making a serious commitment to work in collaboration with Andrew Forrest's team to develop the IPRC concept and will assign a small management team to assist with the core elements of establishing the competition," ARU chairman Cameron Clyne said in a statement.

"There is a significant amount of detail to work through and it is critical for ARU to be able to fully understand how it can support the IPRC and ensure it plays a constructive role in building the game across the country and producing successful Wallabies and national teams.

"We understand the urgency on getting alignment on the key issues of calendar alignment, player contracting and player eligibility, which is why we have committed ARU resources to work through these elements as soon as possible.

"Ultimately the most important outcome is to find a solution that creates a stronger Australian rugby."

Clyne said the ARU will also consult with others outside the management team, including coaches, to ensure that it is working towards the best outcomes.

Plans for the six-team competition were flagged by the chairman of Fortescue Metals Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest this month after Perth-based Western Force lost an appeal against their controversial axing from Super Rugby.

The mining magnate said this week he was negotiating with the ARU to ensure players who compete in the league would also be eligible to play Super Rugby and represent the Wallabies.

The new competition, due to start next year, would initially feature six teams, with Force one of them.

The other five would come from either Singapore, Hong Kong, Samoa, Fiji, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Tonga or Kuala Lumpur.