Following confirmation that the Major League Rugby has accepted an initial application from Kanaloa Hawai’i for membership to expand the league from the 2021 season, it has come to surface that the Hawai’i group is backed by five former All Blacks.
The Major League Rugby today confirmed to have received and reviewed thorough plans presented for a team in the Hawai’i market, and have entered into an exclusive negotiating period to finalize terms and meet the League’s expansion benchmarks before being ratified by a board vote to be formally admitted as an MLR member.
Former All Blacks John Afoa, Ben Atiga, Jerome Kaino, Joe Rokocoko, and Anthony Tuitavake (known as The Mercury Group) have been identified as the investors in Kanaloa Rugby by CEO Tracy Atiga.
An HAWAIIAN team has been given official MLR invitation to join the US rugby comp in 2021.— Scotty Stevenson (@sumostevenson) May 15, 2020
Head Coach: Mick Byrne.
Great potential for players throughout the Pacific. Congrats to Cam Kilgour and his team for getting to this position.#MLR #rugby @1NewsSportNZ
A letter written by club CEO Tracy Atiga read: “By taking on the responsibility of a club, the owners can provide direct solutions to challenges that Maori and Pasifika players face in the rugby industry.
“The owners have pledged to lead through a Polynesian village ethos based on servant leadership principles that are guided by the organisation’s values of faith and family. The ownership team is excited to have secured a spot in the MLR and have already set their sights on making a bid to participate in the Oceania based Super Rugby competition and other global competitions moving forward.
“Kanaloa Hawaii Rugby wishes to acknowledge and express sincere gratitude to the MLR, Hawaii Rugby Union, and various local organisations that have offered support and partnership opportunities to get the venture off the ground.”
If all terms are met, the team would be formalized and ratified by a board vote and Kanaloa Hawai’i would become the 14th member for the 2021 MLR season.
Former All Blacks John Afoa, Ben Atiga, Jerome Kaino, Joe Rokocoko, and Anthony Tuitavake (aka The Mercury Group) identified as investors in Kanaloa Rugby by CEO Tracy Atiga.https://t.co/BdvlrtaDkm— Bryan Ray (@raysrugby) July 10, 2020