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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.

10 comments:

  1. Drop the two Italians, add two America's teams, same format, everyone makes one 7-8 day trip across the pond for a two match visit. A Sunday match at one America's team followed by a Friday match at the other.

    It's probably not ideal...But there probably isn't a truly ideal way for it to work.

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  2. Something says pro12 should very much keep a eye on the wolfpack in Toronto and take notes how that is handled. Why not have said Huston team play 1-2 games in NY to test the market. The owners of said tram should again take notes from the wolfpack and go after a airline sponsor. Southwest?

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    1. I cant think of any successful example of a team with split home markets. Always hear about in relation to rugby, but never seen a team successfully do it in other sports. I feel like your home market is a visceral emotional connection that needs to be established. Splitting your 8-9 home games a year between 2 cities could fail to establish the connection.

      Hosting a marquee game elsewhere like the NFL does is another thing. Maybe having 1 game a year elsewhere...

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  3. " (okay, really the Irish teams)"

    Uh, does anybody need to be reminded that the reigning Pro12 champs are SCOTTISH? Glasgow Warriors currently the form team in the Champions Cup as well!

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  4. If it happens it would be great for US Rugby. Having a Pro team in either the Premiership or the Pro12 would legitimize the efforts of becoming a Tier 1 rugby nation. If it happens it would have to be located either in NY or Boston. A 4 hour flight is bearable for the teams. If there was a venue with a covered or retractable roof that would be even better.

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    1. Despite the mild weather of late locating a team in either NY or Boston is a nonstarter. Cold, snowy and or wet weather not to mention frozen fields make for poor rugby and worse conditions for attendance.

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  5. The reigning pro12 champions are Connacht who are based in Galway which is in IRELAND. Also Glasgow are not the form team in the champions cup. Point taken that Glasgow is one of the best teams in Europe and Ospreys aren't to shabby either traditionally. Also, you do know Glasgow are sitting in 6th in the pro12? Not exactly world beaters this year (along with Connacht for that matter).

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  6. We in Houston welcome your invitation. We have been eager to see pro rugby come to this city. We had the second largest international crowd in America, but that's because Chicago got the All Blacks. Come to Houston!

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  7. It would be exciting for the rugby-aware public, and if done right, might turn a profit for the owners. But unless the team specifies the use of mostly American players, I don't see a huge benefit to growing the game. Even then, the Pro 12 Italian teams have mostly Italian players, and I don't know if that has grown the game in Italy. Also, it's one team, so unless you're in the market, the vast majority of Americans probably won't care.

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