SYDNEY • Mining magnate Andrew Forrest announced plans yesterday for a rebel Indo-Pacific rugby competition after the Western Force lost a legal appeal over their Super Rugby axing by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).
Forrest, a billionaire backer of the club's parent body, RugbyWA, said six teams would initially be involved, including the Force, with the league starting "as soon as possible".
"It will involve key countries across the Indo-Pacific region who have approached us or who have publicly stated their deep conviction to rugby if they could be included in an Indo-Pacific arena," he said in Perth.
"We will include strong and deeply powerful players, broadcasters and fans of rugby all across the Indo-Pacific region where some 60 per cent of the world's people live on our time frame right here in Western Australia."
Forrest, founder and chairman of Fortescue Metals, said he planned to kick off the competition with an international game.
"It will be as soon as possible and certainly much faster than the ARU could ever organise," he said.
When asked about the new competition, Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) chief Terence Khoo said the SRU had not been contacted by anyone yet and he did not have sufficient information about the matter to make a decision.
Forrest has been an outspoken critic of the ARU and the handling of its decision to axe one of five Australian teams in the Super Rugby competition.
The Perth-based Force were informed they would be cut last month and yesterday, the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney dismissed their appeal.
They appealed against an original court decision that a new Sanzaar broadcast deal for 15 teams was legally binding, therefore negating an agreement between the ARU and the Force guaranteeing survival until the end of 2020.
"We're lucky that we have people here fighting. It's a pity that the ARU didn't fight for us," Force veteran Matt Hodgson said, and threw his support behind Forrest's vision.