Honolulu Star-Advertiser


By Ferd Lewis

September 6, 2020

Updated 12:20 am

Kanaloa Hawaii Rugby Ltd. and Major League Rugby were unable to reach an agreement to put a franchise in Hawaii for the 2021 season, commissioner George Killebrew said.

The New Zealand-based ownership group had been given a 90-day exclusive negotiating period in which to satisfy several requirements, including a $10 million deposit to cover franchise fees, salaries and operating expenses, and did not meet the Sept. 1 deadline, MLR said.

It was also required to secure a home site but hadn’t yet nailed down Aloha Stadium or an alternative venue.

“I think rugby will be great in Hawaii at some point,” Killebrew said. “We have some deadlines because we have to come out with a schedule for the season (which is projected to start in February) and they just couldn’t get it across the line in time.”

State Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi-Pearl Harbor), who has been skeptical of the ownership group, said, “I am a big supporter of rugby. The sport is growing in popularity and the new Aloha Stadium should be positioned as the epicenter of expansion in the Pacific. Kanaloa had the right idea, but they fumbled at the start. We can ill afford to have a Wonder Blunder ruin Hawaii’s future rugby opportunities.”

Killebrew said, “I think the black cloud that is COVID-19 made it Herculean in the first place.