Hunter rugby fans had a first-hand look at Global Rapid Rugby when the Western Force beat a Newcastle invitational team 72-7 at No.2 Sportsground late last month.
The inaugural six-team competition kicks off in Perth this weekend.
Proud Novocastrian and Perth-based rugby fan Mick Skehan has cast his eye over the six teams and what they are likely to produce.
Global Rapid Rugby was born out of the decision by the Australian Rugby Union to cut the Western Force from the Super Rugby competition in 2018 in preference to the Melbourne Rebels.
Mining magnate Andrew Forrest, a rugby fan and minor sponsor of the Western Force, was furious at the decision. After a last-ditch sponsorship offer failed, he helped the Force form Global Rabid Rugby.
Through the philanthropy arm of his business, the Minderoo Foundation, he has set up a six-team competition with $1 million in prizemoney.
The game is played under modified laws which have been sanctioned by World Rugby and are designed to keep the ball in play. There is more running, less kicking, fewer points for penalty goals and a nine point or power try for scoring a try from when the play starts inside your own 22m line.
Here's a look at the six clubs and a form line on what to expect in the inaugural campaign.
Western Force: Western Australia has the third - and soon to be second - highest participation rate of rugby union players in any state. The Force have rebuilt the team that was decimated after its removal from Super Rugby. They won the National Rugby Championship in Novembers and boast World Cup-winner Jeremy Thrush, former Wallaby Andrew Ready, Super Rugby players Kieran Longbottom, Heath Tessman, captain Ian Prior and USA international Marcel Brache. They have seven Perth juniors in the squad and will look to expand this number as the competition grows. Expected finish: grand finalists
South China Tigers: The Hong Kong-based outfit is dominated by players from the national team. Former England International Tom Varndell heads the foreigner which include expat Aussie and Kiwis. They have also given opportunities to players from there local grade competition. The financial heavy weights of the league, they play a forward-based game and rely on their fitness in the humidity to overrun teams. Based at Aberdeen Sports Ground in Hong Kong, their home games are played in a party atmosphere and are well worth a tour of duty for an away-bay day. Expected finish: 4th
China Lions: A joint-venture between New Zealand's Bay of Plenty and Shanghai, the Lions are they team that will be most impacted by the Corona virus that is gripping the world. Bay of Plenty supply the bulk of the squad with their 19-22 year old players given exposure to a competition that's played at a higher level than the provincial competition in New Zealand. They were the final team added to the competition. Expect them to play a Kiwi style of rugby. It'll be tough, they'll throw it around and back themselves. Expected finish: Grand finalists
Malaysian Valke: Essentially a South African under 21's side. South Africa have entered a team to expose their young players to a higher quality competition and use it as a feeder organisation for their provincial sides. They will rely on the raw aggression that is displayed by all South African sides. They will also be impacted by the Corona virus outbreak and have had games relocated. They will be a step behind some of the other franchises in quality and depth but will compete hard. Expected finish: 3rd
Fijian Latui: Sevens specialists and previous winners of the NRC, Fiji have arguably the most passionate supporters in the world. The Latui shape as the surprise packets. They play an entertaining open style of play and the team is made up of some returning superstars from Europe and local players looking for an opportunity. They will be competitive but lack the fitness and stamina needed to compete with the up tempo style of GRR and some of the other sides in the competition. Expected finish: 5th
Manuma Samoa: They're in, they're out, they're back in again. Samoan have been the most political addition of all the GRR teams due to internal fighting within the home union. An untapped nursery of rugby talent, they will play a bash-and-barge style from their home base in Apia. They have performed well in exhibition games over the past two years. However, they have been found wanting when playing on a wet track or when the game speeds up. Their aim is to retain local talent instead of losing it to New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia. Expected finish: 6th
While negotiations are on-going, GRR plans to grow the competition in the next two years and are looking at opening franchises in Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and the East Coast of Australia.