Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is being targeted by a social media campaign from New Zealand to champion a Pacific Island Super Rugby franchise and ensure the future of the competition.
The aim is to get thousands of rugby fans to tag Johnson across social media channels to get him to look at a proposal video set up to argue the case.
Simon Anderson, who is spearheading the campaign, says the logic behind the campaign comes down to the fact that Dwayne Johnson has the mana and the marketable reach to not only unify the Pacific Island nations around a rugby team, but ensure its sustainability and the overall expansion of Super Rugby.
“Super Rugby needs to expand and do so without diluting the quality of the competition,” Anderson says. “Pacific Island rugby needs to be given a platform from which it can compete. In Dwayne Johnson there is the perfect win-win. Were he to be granted a licence for a Pacific franchise, he would contribute to a very bright future for SANZAAR.
“At present, there appears to be no real strategy for how Super Rugby will expand and compete with the commercially superior European competitions. South Africa already has one foot out the door with two of its teams playing in Europe’s Pro 14 competition,
“If South Africa did eventually exit completely and the European money started to drag more Southern Hemisphere players away, the future for Super Rugby, and all rugby in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific looks grim.”
Anderson, who describes himself first and foremost as a rugby fan, has worked in the professional rugby industry for several years with specific focus on market intelligence and global contracting trends. He also wrote a thesis on the “key structures, strategies and future challenges in international rugby administration”. But he says while many people in the rugby world are right behind the campaign to tag Johnson, there is no corporate money involved.
“This is a people’s campaign,” Anderson says. “To succeed in getting Johnson to take a look at the proposal video and consider talking to SANZAAR urgently, it will take thousands of us to tag him across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”
SANZAAR has said it would announce its decision on the future of the Super Rugby format for 2021 – 2025 early next month after its meeting, but there is speculation that is being delayed while discussions around a world league (6 x northern hemisphere and 6 x southern hemisphere teams) are held.
“While that takes place it looks like a Pacific Island Super Rugby team will miss out yet again,” Anderson says.
Johnson is a proud Samoan, has Seiuli (high orator/chief) status and has lived and played rugby in New Zealand. He has been vocal in his support of Pacific Island rugby across social media.
“If there is one man who can pull together all the nations of a Pacific Island franchise, it’s him,” Anderson says. “Furthermore, he can grow Super Rugby in ways that no one else can.”
Anderson says as ground breaking as the Johnson campaign sounds, it is not without precedent.
In 2007 the LA Galaxy announced the signing of football megastar David Beckham. Part of the deal to get Beckham to the US and Major League Soccer was an agreement that he would have the right to establish an expansion franchise. He has since done this with Inter Miami.
“What the MLS understood, was that Beckham’s involvement would be incredibly lucrative for the league,’ Anderson says. “It was exactly that. It was a huge success and a catalyst for the league’s ongoing growth.
“SANZAAR and Super Rugby should use that as a case study. They should attract a key brand that can help them expand and in Dwayne Johnson there is the perfect brand who could also champion Pacific Island rugby.”
The campaign went live on October 23 and is quickly building momentum.
Check the video proposal and Facebook campaign here (and share!): https://www.facebook.com/futureofsuperrugby/videos/917157438493781/
Check for further information here: https://www.futureofsuperrugby.com/