It has become clear and evident that the PRO12 must reinvent itself in order to keep up with the increasing popularity of the Top 14 and Aviva Premiership.
Increasing television revenues for the elite leagues of England and France are beginning to affect the PRO12 and it’s clubs ability to compete, with changes needed fast before things get any worse.
The obvious solution would be to look at the addition of more franchises. The USA has been highlighted as a potential area for expansion with rugby currently growing in popularity there at an exponential rate.
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne believes that this is a viable option, but only if it is developed properly.
“We can do what is needed to get a franchise up and running pretty quickly,” Browne told the Irish Times.
“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.”
Browne, however is aware that a very tactical approach to selecting an American franchise for the PRO12 will need to be implemented.
“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.”
The possibility of adding more European clubs is also being looked into. Browne highlighted franchises with successful teams in other sports, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, as potential locations for new PRO12 teams.
“Professional sport is not a strange thing in places like Spain, Germany, Netherlands.”
“Real Madrid has a rugby club, as does FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad. So we must explore all those opportunities as well.”
What do you think? Is it time to expand the PRO12?