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Global Rapid Rugby

Global Rapid Rugby
Most recent season
2020 Global Rapid Rugby season
SportRugby union
Formerly known asWorld Series Rugby (2018)
Instituted2018; 6 years ago (2018)
Inaugural season2018
ChairMark Evans
Number of teams6
Hong Kong
HoldersWestern Force (2019)
Most titlesWestern Force (1 title)

Global Rapid Rugby was an international rugby union competition that launched a showcase series for six professional teams in 2019, played in locations across the Asia-Pacific region.[1] Rapid Rugby matches are slightly shorter than the traditional 80 minutes and have other variations from standard rugby laws that are intended to increase the speed of the game.[1]

The 2020 Global Rapid Rugby season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic after only one completed round of competition.[2]


The competition was conceived and is supported by the Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest.[3] It was devised after the Western Force rugby team based in Perth, Western Australia was unilaterally dropped from the Australian Super Rugby Conference.[4]


Following SANZAAR's decision to reduce the number of Super Rugby teams for 2018, the Australian Rugby Union (now Rugby Australia) announced in August 2017 that the Western Force would be one of the teams cut from the 2018 competition. In the following month, Perth-based businessman Andrew Forrest announced that he would create a new tournament called the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship which would include the Western Force and five other teams from the Indo-Pacific region.[5]

For the 2018 season, the competition was launched as World Series Rugby, played as a series of exhibition matches as the precursor to a wider Asia-Pacific competition planned for 2019.[6] The newly reformed Western Force played international teams from Hong Kong, Samoa, and Tonga along with Super Rugby teams the Crusaders and Melbourne Rebels, Japanese Top League team Panasonic Wild Knights, and the Fiji Warriors, the second-tier national side. The series began on 4 May 2018.[6][7][8]

Rapid Rugby launched

The competition was re-branded in November 2018 as Global Rapid Rugby,[9] and the Hong Kong Rugby Union was appointed the governing body for the competition ahead of the 2019 season.[10] A season of fourteen matches was played in 2019,[11] featuring the Western Force playing a Pacific Showcase Series in a round-robin format with teams from Fiji and Samoa, as well as an Asian Showcase Series in a round-robin format with teams based out of Hong Kong and Singapore. One-off matches were also played against a World XV coached by Robbie Deans,[12] and the Malaysia Valke.[13] The Singapore-based team, the Asia Pacific Dragons, did not continue in Rapid Rugby after the 2019 season [14] and was replaced by the China Lions in 2020.[15]


Six teams compete in Rapid Rugby: [16]

Team City Stadium Capacity Head coach
China China Lions Shanghai, Rotorua Rotorua International Stadium 34,000 Mike Rogers
Fiji Fijian Latui Suva ANZ Stadium 15,000 Senirusi Seruvakula
Samoa Manuma Samoa Apia Apia Park Stadium 12,000 Brian Lima[17]
Malaysia Malaysia Valke Kuala Lumpur Bukit Jalil National Stadium 87,411 Rudy Joubert
Hong Kong South China Tigers Hong Kong Hong Kong Stadium 40,000 Craig Hammond
Australia Western Force Perth HBF Park 20,500 Tim Sampson


No. Season Champion
1 2019 Australia Western Force
2 2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Conference winners by team[edit]

In 2019, 5 teams played in 2 conferences. With teams playing each team in their own conference twice (home and away) except Western Force played teams in both conferences. The winner of each conference is awarded a home final.

Year Asia Showcase Series Pacific Showcase Series
2019 Australia Western Force Australia Western Force

Law variations[edit]

Law variations for Rapid Rugby included:[18][19][20]

Power try
  • A 9-point 'power try' for attacks launched within 22 meters of the scoring team's own try line.
Set piece time limits
  • Time limits for scrums (1 minute) and lineouts (45 seconds to set),
Kicking to touch
  • Teams cannot gain ground when kicking direct to touch, even from within their 22. Kicking to touch from inside the 22 is the same as the World Rugby law for outside the 22.
Game duration
  • Matches last 70 minutes (compared with 80 minutes under the standard rugby union laws),

Super Rugby in Australia averages around 30-minutes of ‘ball-in-play’ per match. However, the matches in 2018 World Series Rugby – the precursor to Rapid Rugby – had a comparable 'ball-in-play' time almost 30% greater.[21]


Global Rapid Rugby aims to attract about 20 of the world's top 100 rugby players with marquee contracts to be spread across the eight franchises. There is no salary cap in place for the competition.[22]

Media coverage[edit]

This section needs expansion with: details for 2020. You can help by adding to it. (March 2020)

Rapid Rugby currently has live broadcast television coverage in 18 countries across Asia and Oceania.[23] Live streaming and video on demand services reach additional viewers within some Asia-Pacific countries, while Rapid Rugby's own website provides live streams and highlight packages to other regions worldwide.[23]

For the 2019 showcase series, nine of the fourteen matches over the season were televised.[24] Fox Sports in Australia and related companies Star Sports and Fox Sports Asia will provide the live coverage.[23]

National broadcaster SBS showed all nine of these matches live on free-to-air television across Australia via its SBS Viceland channel and also streamed through SBS on Demand.[23][24] Other Rapid Rugby media partners included Kayo Sports in Australia, Sky Sport in New Zealand and Fiji TV.[23]

Corporate relations[edit]


The 2019 showcase series does not currently have a principal naming rights partner, but major official partners include IHG Hotels & Resorts, K&L Gates and Harvey Beef.[25]

The official rugby ball supplier is Rhino Sport.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ritchie, Joe (11 March 2019). "A Rugby Revolution for Asia and the Pacific". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  2. ^ "2020 Season cancelled". Channel News Asia. 7 April 2020. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Andrew Forrest doesn't back losers, we await his world series with interest". The Australian. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Western Force dumped from Super Rugby". The West Australian. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Indo Pacific Rugby Championship: Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest reveals details of new rugby competition". The Australian. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Western Force to return to action in World Series Rugby". ESPN. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Force unveil squad, schedule for World Series Rugby". The Chronicle. 6 March 2018. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Andrew Forrest unveils Force squad, schedule for World Series Rugby". Fox Sports. 6 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Rapid Brand For Bold New Beginning". Rapid Rugby. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Global Rapid Rugby off and running as Western Force battle sides from around Asia". The West Australian. 15 November 2018. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  11. ^ Blennerhassett, Patrick (1 March 2019). "Global Rapid Rugby and South China Tigers coming to Hong Kong for two games in 2019". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 9 March 2019.
  12. ^ Taylor, Nick (9 March 2019). "Nick 'the honey badger' Cummins will return to Perth for Global Rapid Rugby showcase". The West Australian.
  13. ^ "Forceful finish a fitting finale". Rapid Rugby. 9 August 2019. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Are Shanghai Lions the GRR Team Asia?". Rugby Asia 24/7. 27 January 2020. Archived from the original on 15 March 2020.
  15. ^ "China Lions confirmed as the 6th GRR team". Rugby Asia 24/7. 31 January 2020. Archived from the original on 12 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Rapid Rugby 2019 Schedule on show" (PDF) (Press release). Global Rapid Rugby. 1 March 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2019.
  17. ^ Airey, Thomas (21 November 2019). "Manumā the "missing link" to get locals to Manu Samoa". Samoa Observer. Archived from the original on 22 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Billionaire Andrew Forrest launches alternative competition to Super Rugby". The New Zealand Herald. 16 November 2018.
  19. ^ Thomsen, Simon (15 November 2018). "Andrew Forrest unveils 'Global Rapid Rugby', a new format aimed at reviving interest in the struggling game". Business Insider Australia.
  20. ^ "About".
  21. ^ "Rapid Rugby". Rapid Rugby. Archived from the original on 6 November 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  22. ^ "'There's action everywhere': Carter, Giteau linked to breakaway comp". 20 November 2018.
  23. ^ a b c d e "On the air, everywhere!". Rapid Rugby. 11 April 2019. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Fixtures". Rapid Rugby. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  25. ^ a b "Join the Rapid Rugby Revolution". Rapid Rugby. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  26. ^ "Why Rhino".

External links[edit]

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Global Rapid Rugby
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