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Pro 12 Look Outside Of Europe For 13th Team

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Pro 12 Look Outside Of Europe For 13th Team

As if travelling from Ireland to Italy from a domestic league match doesn't seem odd enough at times the Pro 12 could soon be expanding much further afield with league officials looking at the US for a 13th franchise.

With Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian clubs falling behind their English and French counterparts in terms of revenue, because of the size of the TV deals the Aviva Premiership and Top 14 have been able to generate, the Pro 12 are considering expanding into North America.

The Pro 12 are obviously and rightly concerned that a lack of revenue will stop them competing for the signatures of top stars and see more of their players move abroad, making victory in European competition less likely.

Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive, Philip Browne, talked about the possibility of a 13th team from across the Atlantic saying, "We can do what is needed to get a franchise (on the east coast of the US) 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."

The Premiership has already held one game in the US when London Irish and Saracens played their league match in March this year in front of over 14,000 at the Red Bull Arena in New York and are set to play each other next year too. Ireland will also play an international against the All Blacks in Chicago in November.

Browne also revealed the extent of how much the league needs to grow adding, "Change is required if the Pro12 is to remain a meaningful tournament. The revenues generated by the tournament need to double or treble if the participating clubs/provinces are to remain competitive with the clubs in the English and French leagues.

"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."

The Pro 12 chief executives are due to meet next week to discuss the future of the league and the possibilities of franchises in major cities and the inclusion of a team from America. There's some very interesting times ahead for European rugby, who knew they could be in North America.

(Via Telegraph)

Topics: Rugby Union, USA

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