Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver has declared that "it is full steam ahead for the National Rugby Championship, despite growing concerns the project is being pushed through too fast," according to Georgina Robinson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Plans "to have the ambitious new third-tier competition up and running by August this year were hit this week with the resignation of one of the concept's chief architects." Some have suggested the NRC be delayed until next year, but Pulver "reiterated the ARU's commitment to see the competition kick off at the end of this year's Super Rugby season." Pulver said, "The timing may not be perfect for everyone, I acknowledge that. But we have to weigh up the reasons why we want to put this new competition on and there are clear strategic reasons why we want to do this." With a broadcast deal having been secured with Foxtel, "there are also commercial imperatives that require a crash or crash through approach, despite the tight time frame." Pulver said that "he was committed to giving Australian players a quality competition in which to play." Pulver: "It is an important missing link in player development in Australia at the moment. Do we really want to go another year without it?" (SMH, 3/6).
Events and Attractions
Team Australia "has pledged to assign all its crew spots for the next America's Cup to local sailors," despite the fact that new regatta laws are likely to require that only 25% of crew members come from the syndicate's country of registration, according to Rupert Guinness of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Syndicate CEO Iain Murray "made the commitment in Sydney on Thursday at the unveiling of Team Australia's AC45 wingsail catamaran." Murray also announced that Olympic Gold Medalist Mathew Belcher "would be skipper." Team Australia -- under the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the official Cup challenger -- will start selecting crew for their campaign during an "entente cordiale" with Oracle Team USA, "whereby the rival crews will train together on Sydney Harbour from now until June" (SMH, 3/6).
Israel "will stage a large-scale swimming event for the first time next January after Netanya was selected to host the European Short Course Swimming Championships," according to Allon Sinai of the JERUSALEM POST. Approximately 600 swimmers from across Europe "will descend on Netanya for the four-day event," which will take place from Jan. 15-18. The championships "will be broadcast live in 35 different countries, with an estimated 145 million viewers watching the last edition of the event which was held last December in Herning, Denmark." Israeli Swimming Association President Noam Zwi said, “For us this is like hosting the Olympics" (JERUSALEM POST, 3/6).
The Miguel Indurain Grand Prix cycling race scheduled for April 5 "will not be held," according to AS. The "lack of an agreement on an economic contribution from the Navarre, Spain government has caused the race to be suspended." An "official announcement is expected to be made Friday." The race has "been held every year since '51, except for '84 and '86." The event became known as the Miguel Indurain GP in '99 (AS, 3/6).
The Spanish Football League (LFP) on Thursday presented its "LFP World Challenge" project. The LFP World Challenge will feature the involvement of Spain's five secretaries of state responsible for taxes, sports, commerce, foreign relations and the Spanish brand. LFP President Javier Tebas said that when he "took over the position, one of his goals was to internationalize and spread the image of each of the clubs." Tebas confirmed that in the next three years, Spanish clubs will play games in the U.S., Mexico, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Colombia and Chile. The program's three objectives relate to sports, business and social responsibility. Spanish Superior Sports Council President Miguel Cardenal said that the program will be "a great opportunity for Spanish businesses to present themselves." Spanish State Secretary for Trade Jaime García-Legaz said, "We will not spare any type of institutional or budgetary resource to ensure the project's success" (LFP).