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Roadblocks won’t stop eight-team World Series Rugby competition

World Series Rugby is expected to debut with eight teams next year despite roadblocks being thrown out to slow down expansion sides in western Sydney and New Zealand.

Rugby Australia and Rugby NSW have said they cannot support the Sydney side because the turnaround for the March kick-off is too short. The New Zealand Rugby Union has also aired the same concerns about the inclusion of a WSR Kiwi team.

But mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who is bankrolling the new competition and the Western Force, has not been deterred and is forging ahead with the tournament.

WSR was already planning to expand to 10 teams in 2020 and if the Sydney and NZ teams are not included next year two alternative teams from the Asia Pacific region are likely to be brought in.

They would join the Force, two sides from Japan and one each from Fiji, Singapore, and Hong Kong in an eight team competition battling for a $1 million prize purse.

WSR has been given the tick approval by World Rugby’s executive committee, recommending approval to its full council for rubber-stamping, subject to regulatory and governance criteria.

Super Rugby broadcast deals end in 2020 and no doubt RA are wary of any new competition moving into their landscape before they can lock away contracts.

Forrest’s Minderoo organisation said it had “parties ready and willing” to support a western Sydney team for the 2019 timeframe but it was up to RA and NSW to let it happen.

“RA and NSWRU have discussed with Minderoo the possibility of establishing the Western Sydney team in 2020 instead of 2019 to allow them to do what they believe is the required planning to ensure the team is successful and integrates into the NSW rugby system,” Minderoo said in a statement.

“Minderoo continues to work with RA and NSWRU to enable the establishment of the Western Sydney at the most appropriate time.

“We would welcome a team into the competition as early as the 2019 season if its establishment was able to occur faster – but whether that happens is up to RA and NSWRU, in discussion with the parties who are ready and willing to support such a team in that timeframe.”

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