Talks are underway about setting up a team in the USA to compete in an expanded Guinness Pro12
America is seen as a potentially lucrative market in terms of broadcasting and sponsorship
Rugby is growing in popularity in the States, with a new domestic league having been established
Talks have begun about setting up a team in the USA to compete in an expanded Guinness Pro12 in order to boost revenue.
The feeling is this could be an opportune moment for the Pro12 to tap into the burgeoning US market in an attempt to compete financially with the English and French leagues.
The chief executives of the Pro12 teams will be meeting in London next week to discuss the various expansion options on the table.
It’s an idea which is seen as appealing by IRFU chief executive Philip Browne, who says there are plenty of people in the US interested in getting involved.
“The one thing we can bring to bear, as four unions, is if you operate a franchise model we can provide the coaches, we can provide the administrative expertise,” Browne told the Irish Times.
“We can do what is needed to get a franchise up and running pretty quickly.
“So, that’s what we are looking at. If we are going to do this, we are not going to do it on the basis of putting together a half-baked team. What we need is a good team working in a market that has commercial opportunities for us.”
“In some markets, national broadcasting in the US is not where the money is. It is local broadcasting. So you have to pick the right city.
“But there are plenty of people in the US who are interested in rugby and its opportunities and they are interested in getting involved. We have to look at these opportunities.”