Samoan franchise given green light for breakaway rugby tournament

Global Rapid Rugby is heading to Auckland after New Zealand Rugby agreed to sanction a one-off exhibition game between two Pacific Island teams in June.

The brainchild of Perth billionaire Andrew Forrest, Global Rapid Rugby is set to launch next year with teams from Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Samoa and Singapore confirmed for this year's series of exhibition matches between March and August.

Pukekohe's Navigation Homes Stadium is set to host Kafiga Samoa and Fijian Latui on June 7.

The two sides will be joined by the Western Force in a Pacific Showcase which starts in Suva next month.

"It's going to be new, it's going to be high-paced, it's going to be intense," Kafiga Samoa chief executive Richard Fale told 1 NEWS.

"[The] New Zealand Rugby Union's support for Global Rapid Rugby is a very well placed, insightful position looking forward into the future.

"You have to look at what is the market place going to look like in five years, in 10 years, in 20 years."

An Asia Showcase began last month featuring a World XV coached by Robbie Deans, the Asia Pacific Dragons and South China Tigers.

Kafiga Samoa will host this year's matches in Auckland and Brisbane due to Apia Park undergoing renovations ahead of the Pacific Games in July.

The outfit has formed a relationship with Counties Manukau with Mitre 10 Cup coaches Darryl Suasua and Semo Sititi all but confirmed to lead the side. Samoa Rugby will look to provide the bulk of the squad while players New Zealand-based players from Tonga and Fiji are also being targeted. 

Global Rapid Rugby was set to launch its inaugural season this year with eight teams but time constraints forced the tournament to be pushed back to 2020. It was created by Forrest, who owns the Western Force, after the Perth side was axed from Super Rugby.

Fale has plans to start another Hawaiian-based team while the Japanese Sunwolves have also been tipped to join Global Rapid Rugby after being left out of Super Rugby from 2021.