July 13, 2020 / 8:31 AM / a month ago

INTERVIEW-Rugby-Pacific Islanders eye team in Super Rugby

WELLINGTON, July 13 (Reuters) - The future of Super Rugby remains under a cloud as COVID-19 travel curbs continue to stymie cross-border contests but the manager of Pacific Islands-focused Kanaloa Hawaii says they have been in discussions about entering a team in the competition.

Kanaloa Hawaii are backed by a group of former All Blacks of Pacific Island heritage and were provisionally approved on Friday to play in North America’s Major League Rugby (MLR) competition from next year.

Media reports in New Zealand and Australia have suggested a Pasifika team could be included in a revamped Super Rugby competition and Kanaloa Hawaii’s General Manager Cam Kilgour told Reuters they had already got the ball rolling.

“We have been in discussions with them for a while,” he said by telephone. “We’re definitely keen for it.”

Kilgour did not know the specifics of the plans being discussed but said the team and their investors saw Super Rugby as part of their long-term future.

“We had planned to have a MLR team for a number of years and then create a team for either Super Rugby or in Japan,” he said.

“It was definitely in our plans. If it has to happen sooner then so be it.

“But there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge yet.”

Super Rugby contracted to 15 teams from 18 in 2018 and has axed the Tokyo Sunwolves for 2021, but Kilgour said Kanaloa Hawaii could leverage the fact that it stood at the intersection of three rugby markets — Asia, the Pacific and North America.

“Having it based in Hawaii gives it so much real estate power in terms of Japan, Super Rugby and the Americas,” he said.

“It’s smack bang in the middle of the rugby power and something we can benefit from.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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