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Volume 7 No. 149
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Potential Hawaii NRL Game Off The Table For Now As Talks ‘Have Quieted Down,’ Exec Says

A potential National Rugby League exhibition game in Hawaii, which was earmarked for the early part of ’17, has been scrapped. Ascendent Sports Group Senior VP & Head of Consulting Doug Hall said talks of bringing Australian rugby league clubs to the island “have quieted down” in recent months. “The rumors and conversations that you’ve heard a few months ago, those partnership talks have quieted for now,” Hall told SBD Global. “That’s not to say they can’t be revived. There’s still an interest in bringing rugby to Hawaii. There are a couple of different avenues that are being explored right now.” Australian media reported in October that NRL sides St. George Illawarra and the Wests Tigers would play an exhibition game at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium on Feb. 12. The N.Y.-based agency, the official sports marketing partner of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, did not comment on what led to the breakdown of the talks. For Hawaii, which lost the NFL Pro Bowl to Orlando earlier this year, the NRL match could have recouped some of the lost revenue for the state. Ascendent and local stakeholders are continuing to look at different sports properties, including rugby, to boost tourism in Hawaii. “There’s an appetite for it amongst multiple stakeholders in and around the state,” Hall said. “What we are trying to do is find the best path forward. It’s actually pretty challenging to find the best partnership in rugby, the match that’s going to deliver on Hawaii’s objectives in the best way.” A previous attempt to bring an NRL game to Hawaii was stopped by the Rugby League Players’ Association due to concerns of player burnouts.