Monday, February 20, 2017
Strong Indications The Pro12 Is Headed To America
The Pro12 has given the strongest indications yet that they will put teams in the United States and Canada. In a report by Iain Morrison in The Scotsman (make sure you check out the whole piece) Pro12 boss Martin Anayi was in Houston over Super Bowl weekend (so was Dan Payne but there is no record they met) to scout out the city as a location. The Houston Sports Commission has been aggressive in trying to land a team from what TIAR understands.
As the article mentions, the situation is not fixed. Whatever team ends up in the U.S. is going to have investors and apparently a group of Irish investors want the team in New York. RIM partner Harlequins could also want to be a part of the team. One of the reasons why Houston is in play is the fact that rugby can be played in the winter.
Take the jump to read more.
The Canadian team would be located in Toronto. It snows a lot there in the winter but a dome is being planned for BMO Field. Vancouver is also mentioned as a possible location for the depths of winter but that is a very long flight from Italy.
If U.S. and Canadian teams are added the Pro12 would be rebranded as the Guinness Atlantic Rugby Championship and would be split into A and B groups with 7 teams each. Teams in each group would play a home and away with everyone in their own group and then play six matches from the other group. This would be 18 matches which is less than what the Pro12 now.
As Morrison points out, the idea is that breaking into the North American market would help bolster the standing and profitability of the Pro12. Currently the competition features some of the best teams in Europe (okay, really the Irish teams) but lack the financial power of the Premiership and Top 14. There are questions about whether North America can deliver what the Pro12 would like or whether the U.S. and Canada can put together a team of 40 players that can play in the competition.
Costs will be the biggest factor in the venture. Teams in Europe aren't going to want to take the expense trip twice to North America. That can be mitigated somewhat with a smaller schedule and pairing both the U.S. and Canadian teams for travel purposes. At the same time, unless there is an airline sponsor the costs of flying over teams or sending the North American teams to Europe for a combined 36 matches it's almost prohibitive. Still, it could be a good overall move for the U.S. and Canada if managed right. It would deliver high-level rugby and provide a training ground for American players.