Indo-Pacific rugby league may kick off next year - Forrest

Sydney (AFP) –


Mining magnate Andrew Forrest said Friday his six-team Indo Pacific Rugby Championship could be up and running by late next year following talks with the Australian Rugby Union.

The billionaire chairman of Fortescue Metals met with the ARU board this week and said the governing body was set to provide a preferred playing window, information on player eligibility and approve the IPRC in principle by November 2.

'Twiggy' Forrest, who is setting up the new league in the wake of Western Force's controversial axing from Super Rugby, said he had presented the ARU with two possible windows for the tournament -- July-October 2018 or March-June 2019.

Both timetables would compete directly with either the National Rugby Championship or Super Rugby, though Forrest is confident of attracting talent.

Forrest said he has already approached prominent Wallabies along with potential Asian backers and plans to present his vision at a World Rugby board meeting on November 14.

"I have a reputation for doing what I say I'm going to do," he told reporters in Sydney.

"Six clubs, six markets in a time zone that captures 60 percent of the world's population."

Forrest said there was an element of financial risk involved and he was prepared to underwrite the competition.

"If an investor wants to come in and they've got more than capital to offer I'll look at it. If it's just capital I'm not interested," he said.

Forrest said the IPRC would offer attractive contracts that could help stem the flood of Australians to foreign leagues.

"We can counterbalance what the Europeans can offer, what the Japanese can offer," he said.

"It's our intention to stop our best players leaving, bring our best players back."

Forrest has flagged the IPRC would initially feature six teams, with the Perth-based Force one of them.

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