Major League Rugby

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Mellsblue
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:22 pm


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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:19 am

You'd have to say that, if they can sign an experienced and established front row, scrum-half and fly-half, they could probably build the rest of a competitive squad for Feb 2021 just from local talent. They'd be rough around the edges sure, but this is the prime opportunity of showing that you could turn untrained talent into rugby players - it's tight with just 6 months to do it, but there's a lot of athletic Yank football talent from the University of Hawaii that hasn't left the island and I'm willing to bet a combine would turn up 20 players who had never touched a rugby ball, but could be moulded into something workable. Combine that with the rugby players on the island and you could have a functional squad with only 5-6 signings needed.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:31 pm

DTH van der Merwe saying he’s almost signed up for an MLR franchise:

“I can’t go into detail because it’s not a done deal yet but it’s highly likely I’ll be going to MLR in the United States. There are a couple of options available to me but I’m pretty close to nailing it down.”

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:42 am

Article in The Times about the Hawaiian franchise. Seems to be the starting point for a much bigger plan:

RUGBY UNION
Kanaloa Hawai’i: A plan to end the talent drain and secure the future of Pacific island rugby

Alex Lowe hears from those involved in the newly launched team, where everyone from star players to support staff will earn the same wage
Former All Black prop Afoa has been a driving force in the new venture

Alex Lowe, Deputy Rugby Correspondent
Wednesday July 15 2020, 5.00pm, The Times

John Afoa and his band of All Blacks brothers spread across different corners of the rugby world did not hesitate when the call to arms came.

For 16 years they had been sitting on a sketched-out business plan for a “Pacific island-owned rugby club”. Their friend, Tracy Atiga, had always said there would be a time when they could use their status to make a lasting difference.

That time is now. The old plan has been dusted off, modernised and turned into Kanaloa Hawaii, the first professional rugby franchise for Polynesians run by Polynesians.

Atiga, the former head of Auckland Basketball, is the co-founder and chief executive. The project is backed by Afoa, Joe Rokocoko, Jerome Kaino, Ben Atiga, Anthony Tuitavake and Benson Stanley, all former All Blacks who have been friends and team-mates for the best part of two decades.

Their vision is bold. Kanaloa Hawaii will enter one team into Major League Rugby (MLR), the burgeoning league in the United States, and Atiga has opened talks about fielding another in a redesigned Super Rugby competition. Beyond that, they plan to set up two high-performance centres, one in Hawaii and one in south Auckland, providing a pathway to professional rugby for 320 male and female players and boosting the national teams of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa by slowing the talent drain.


“Tracy always preached that one day we will be able to do something big in our country,” Afoa, the Bristol Bears prop, said. “Earlier in the year she gave the boys a bell and said, ‘This opportunity has come up, what do you think?’ It was an easy decision.”

One fifth of professional rugby players in the world hail from a collection of small islands in the Pacific Ocean. Behind sugar cane, rugby players are Fiji’s second biggest export.

Atiga is co-founder and chief executive
Despite their bounteous talent and immense contribution to rugby, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa are minnows on the global stage. Without a fully professional team, talented players are forced to move abroad, sometimes lost to other nations. Scores of others fall through the cracks.

There are frequent instances where capped players retire from international rugby, either under orders from the club or because they could not afford to have their wages halted while on Test duty with Fiji, Samoa or Tonga.

There are some desperately sad stories of Polynesian players who have struggled to cope with the culture shock and loneliness of living abroad while sending money back home to support their family.

A fully professional Pacific franchise has long been seen as the panacea but money, a lack of commercial revenue and governance issues have all been stumbling blocks. However, when the Colorado Raptors dropped out of MLR in April, Atiga spotted a new opportunity. “That was time to engage the boys,” she said.

A club run by Pasifika and Maori leaders was a chance to start effecting change from within the system. That dream, sketched out 16 years ago, was to allow professional players to thrive in their own culture and represent their countries.

“For too long we have been sitting back and allowing other people to row that waka [canoe] for us,” Atiga said when the team were launched at the weekend. “We were navigators of the sea, our ancestors were right out there, venturing into the wide ocean. Kanaloa represents that. It is the god of the sea. We really need to go back to that place. We need to know we were once fierce leaders, and this is an opportunity to show the world it can be done.”

Kanaloa as a club will operate on the servant leadership ethos of a Polynesian village, where faith and family come first. “Players before profit” is the mantra. They are beautiful sentiments but the waters of professional rugby are full of sharks. Some French clubs have set up academies in Fiji. Pacific island players are, frankly, seen as cheap labour in the European leagues. Can those village values hold up against recruiters offering hard cash?

To try to best explain the power of that village ethos to an outsider, Atiga revealed to The Times one of the core principles of Kanaloa Hawaii. “Our staff and our players will all be paid the same base salary,” she said. “I am on the same pro-rata hourly rate as our grassroots youth development officer. That very much aligns with our village ethos; we are all in this together, we are no better than the person next to us. You won’t find that anywhere else in the world.

“The Maori, Polynesian ethos is to build connections through the whanau [extended family] rather than through the player or agent. You build that trust.

“We want our players to be successful so if there is a cherry picker who comes in from France and they are waving their wallet around, we will help the family and the athlete and make sure they are taken care of long term.

“Players [based abroad] who want to play for Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are restricted. We believe it is our responsibility to allow them to play for their home nation. We will challenge clubs to do the same. Money talks but we feel the opportunities we will have for our athletes will be so fitting for their culture that they will understand that staying with us will be beneficial for them.”

Atiga is also determined to create opportunities that she never had. “I played rugby with all these boys,” she said, “but as a female I knew I couldn’t make a living out of the sport. The girls in Hawaii are ranked first in the US. We want them to get noticed. The strategy we have is equality.”

Matt Atiga, Tracy’s husband and Ben’s brother, will be the director of high performance. MLR has approved the club’s initial application. Mick Byrne, the former All Blacks kicking guru, has been appointed head coach and if all goes to plan they will launch their inaugural season in February.

Kanaloa Hawaii will eventually play on a World Rugby-approved surface in Honolulu’s 40,000-seat Aloha Stadium, the former home of the NFL Pro Bowl, which is being converted into a dual-purpose gridiron and rugby arena.

The Super Rugby plan would be for a separate team to be based in south Auckland. Atiga said that Mark Robinson, New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) chief executive, backed their bid to be part of the tournament’s future, whatever structure was decided upon.

“He was like, ‘Fantastic. We have waited for this day. It’s great that you are coming to us rather than us going out to find a team,’ ” she said.

“We will have to put in a really strong pitch. I would be lying if I said NZR aren’t backing us. They know what it takes to get an MLR licence. They know what that means financially and sustainably. They know if they back us to push forward it will be a good move for them long term.”

There is a long way still to travel in the “waka”, but Atiga, Afoa and the others have now taken up the oars and a force for good in world rugby is stirring in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:17 pm

Toronto sign Gaston Cortes and RUNY follow the rest of world rugby to sign a Fijian Sevens international winger with an unfathomable name.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:33 am

Looks like Hawaii might be all mouth, no trousers: https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/07/2 ... am-hawaii/

State Sen. Glenn Wakai said Kanaloa Hawaii’s announcement that it plans to start play in 2021 is premature. He refutes several claims the club has made in media interviews on the forming of its franchise.

"They had mentioned in their announcement four relationships: one with the Hawaii Tourism Authority who's never heard of them; the Stadium Authority, never talked to them; the University of Hawaii which denied them their practice facilities; and for Hawaiian Airlines they said they had a sponsorship agreement. Hawaiian Airlines has no sponsorship agreement with these folks," Wakai said.


For reference, Glenn Wakai is is the chair of the Hawaii Senate Tourism committee (which includes responsibility for sports and athletics on the island, as well as the stadia) and his district includes Honolulu. For him to not have the first inkling of any of these "deals" promised by the NZ ownership group is... not good is putting it mildly. He should be someone they should have had on side and involved before a single press release was issued.

I don't see them for 2021 and this kind of amateurish behaviour could see them scuppered for good.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:51 am

The response:


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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:54 am

That is an awful lot of words to say very little indeed. Hopefully they're mending fences and getting things on track, but I choose to remain concerned.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Sat Jul 25, 2020 9:03 am

Either Kanaloa Hawaii and the MLR are super confident or this is the biggest sporting con trick since a Ponzi scheme running scum bag stuck $20 million in a glass box at the side of a cricket pitch in the Caribbean and persuaded Mrs Prior to sit on his knee.

https://www.kanaloahi.com/our-shop

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:50 am



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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:08 pm

This is good news. Some of the officiating last season was, if I’m being kind, average:

https://www.majorleague.rugby/news/kapl ... -for-2021/

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Fri Aug 07, 2020 1:17 am

Mellsblue wrote:This is good news. Some of the officiating last season was, if I’m being kind, average:

https://www.majorleague.rugby/news/kapl ... -for-2021/


That's excellent news! Not just for the league, but also for training up a whole new generation of refs who might turn out to be very talented given this leg-up.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Tue Aug 11, 2020 8:14 pm

Foden resigns for RUNY.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Tue Aug 11, 2020 10:17 pm

Mellsblue wrote:Foden resigns for RUNY.


They're putting together a pretty useful team for 2021 actually. Recent signings include an Argentine 7s player with some absolute wheels, former Wasps and Samoa prop Zak Taulafo, and Wilton Rebolo who was part of the Brazil front row that shamed the NZ Maori and Canada scrums a year or so back.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:52 pm

Mellsblue wrote:Either Kanaloa Hawaii and the MLR are super confident or this is the biggest sporting con trick since a Ponzi scheme running scum bag stuck $20 million in a glass box at the side of a cricket pitch in the Caribbean and persuaded Mrs Prior to sit on his knee.

https://www.kanaloahi.com/our-shop
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:59 pm

Mellsblue wrote:
Mellsblue wrote:Either Kanaloa Hawaii and the MLR are super confident or this is the biggest sporting con trick since a Ponzi scheme running scum bag stuck $20 million in a glass box at the side of a cricket pitch in the Caribbean and persuaded Mrs Prior to sit on his knee.

https://www.kanaloahi.com/our-shop


Did you see the bridgeburning exercise that Kanaloa engaged in on Facebook before deleting their post?

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:01 pm

Puja wrote:
Mellsblue wrote:
Mellsblue wrote:Either Kanaloa Hawaii and the MLR are super confident or this is the biggest sporting con trick since a Ponzi scheme running scum bag stuck $20 million in a glass box at the side of a cricket pitch in the Caribbean and persuaded Mrs Prior to sit on his knee.

https://www.kanaloahi.com/our-shop


Did you see the bridgeburning exercise that Kanaloa engaged in on Facebook before deleting their post?

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This one?
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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Sat Sep 05, 2020 11:46 pm

Mellsblue wrote:
Puja wrote:
Mellsblue wrote:


Did you see the bridgeburning exercise that Kanaloa engaged in on Facebook before deleting their post?

Puja

This one?


That's the one. Very swiftly deleted, but the internet is forever. Martin Pengelly reckons that, "Multiple sources in the US game said Kanaloa did not meet a deadline for a payment to MLR, instead submitting a note of protest about the admissions process."

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/ ... s-mlr-2021

Sounds like you were right about the whole thing all along.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Tue Oct 06, 2020 4:13 pm

http://www.americasrugbynews.com/2020/1 ... october-4/

Some pretty decent signings for MLR for the theoretical 2021 season. More than a few Saffers from their domestic game fallout, including Cecil Afrika and Bjorn Basson for San Diego, Tera Mtembu for New England, and Robbie Coetzee for Austin. New England in particular have gone pretty hard on the South Africans, signing in an entirely new front row, one each from the Kings, Lions, and Cheetahs.

Toronto, on the other hand, have stayed South American - they've just added Joaquin Tuculet today, alongside other new signings Gaston Cortes, Manuel Montero, Juan Cruz Gonzalez. And that's adding to a squad that already has Tomas de la Vega, Manuel Diana, Leandro Leivas, and Gaston Mieres!

Not sure whether America will be functioning as a country by March 2021 but, if play is possible, then it could be a good season in prospect.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:23 pm


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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Puja » Wed Oct 21, 2020 5:49 pm

Mellsblue wrote:https://amp.theguardian.com/sport/2020/oct/21/major-league-rugby-us-glendale-raptors-withdrawal?CMP=share_btn_tw&__twitter_impression=true


Not sure what to take from that. It is a very depressing story, but that article appears to be told almost exclusively from the perspective of disgruntled parties Glendale, LA Coast, and Kanaloa Hawaii (whose claims that there was never anything wrong with their finances or plans don't exactly gel with the senator who'd never heard of all their plans or the fact that they got laughed out of their Super Rugby application). The argument from Glendale that there was some sort of plan beyond the selling of new franchise fees to fund the first 10 years or so and some original spirit was betrayed is risible considering the league was explicitly based on MLS and that was how they operated until they got big enough to sell a TV deal. And the idea that the league entry fee is now £10m keeps getting presented in the article as some kind of argument that the league's in trouble because it needs to charge those fees and kinda ignoring that they've got parties still willing to pay them!

I mean, there's definitely problems with the league's operations - allowing the "Gilgronis" and "Giltinis" naming, that ridiculous Las Vegas weekend idea, the lack of movement and marketing to get bums in seats in the stadia (pre-pandemic) - but they're nowhere near as bad as that article's trying to pitch it.

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Re: Major League Rugby

Postby Mellsblue » Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:29 pm

That was pretty much my take on it.


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