The Guinness PRO12 are considering adding a new United States-based franchise to the league.
The PRO12 — which currently features sides from Italy, Ireland, Wales and Scotland — is looking to increase its revenue to keep up with their Aviva Premiership and Top 14 counterparts.
According to Philip Browne, the Irish Rugby Football Union CEO, one potential option would be to look to include a franchise based on the east coast of the USA.
The transatlantic rugby pathway is one already being explored by the Premiership who staged a match in New York last March while Ireland will play New Zealand in Chicago in November. With rugby the fastest-growing team sport in America, Browne sees a potential opportunity for the PRO12 to expand into a new market.
“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 said in 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.”
He added: “Such an increase in values will require some radical change to the tournament and how it is structured. The expansion of the tournament into new territories is probably a prerequisite and the first steps are being taken now in relation to a new strategic plan for the tournament.”
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/17099601/guinness-pro12-considering-expansion-usa
PRO12 considering expansion into USA
ESPN.com – RUGBY