In less than two years the Sunshine Coast’s own world-class rugby union team could be hosting eight international matches televised across Australia and around the world.
Sunshine Coast Rugby Union has officially lodged an expression of interest to the Super14’s governing body SANZAR to be home to Super Rugby‘s newest team, expanding the existing Super 14 tournament to a 24-week competition between 15 teams in 2011.
The Sunshine Coast’s major competitors for this off field battle are likely to be bids from Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Western Sydney or a team from South Africa, however Sunshine Coast Rugby Union believes the Coast can offer Super 15 a home unlike any other.
Sunshine Coast Rugby Union Chairman Glenn Ferguson said the region offered a unique combination of lifestyle, infrastructure, an established rugby community and most importantly a capacity for support unlike any other location.
“One of the most unique elements driving the Sunshine Coast’s bid for the Super 15 team is actually something we don’t have.”
“Unlike other applicants the Sunshine Coast does not have a top tier football team competing in any of the four codes. That means we offer an untapped capacity for support,” Glenn said.
“Our regional capture extends from Caboolture to the Fraser Coast. That’s a population of 550,000 potential supporters. In addition our community is projected to grow faster than the state of Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria.
“Our expression of interest demonstrates to SANZAR that Sunshine Coast Rugby Union is serious about the future of rugby in this region. We will be ready if given the opportunity and our secret weapon is the people of the Sunshine Coast,” Glenn said.
“For the Sunshine Coast it really is about the supporters. It’s people power in action.”
The Sunshine Coast’s mild climate, healthy lifestyle and successful track record in holding national and international events are all key elements in its campaign to be the home of the 15th Super Rugby team.
With strong support and assistance from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, the vision to be the next home in Australia for Rugby supports the economic development initiatives already underway on the Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast Rugby Union also cited its established membership of 3,500 players, successful development and high performance structure and world class coaching and administration team as key advantages in its application.
“The Sunshine Coast is rugby ready. Super Rugby would be the biggest show in town. Quite simply, the Sunshine Coast has the potential,” Glenn said.
The Super 14 Rugby Union competition is currently made up of five teams each from New Zealand and South Africa and four teams from Australia.
SANZAR is expected to announce its decision on the 15th Super Rugby team by November this year.