by Chris Tobin
Former South Canterbury rugby manager Cam Kilgour is helping expand rugby in Hawaii.
The sport has taken off in Hawaii and the US island state hopes to join the American competition, Major League Rugby, next year.
The Colorado Raptors, who have played in all three of the league’s seasons to date, have pulled out, opening up a spot for the Kanaloa Hawai’i side to join the competition almost immediately, providing the island side passed the league’s expansion benchmarks.
“Hawaii has got huge talent, huge potential,” Kilgour, who is team manager, said.
“It’s a massive island for growth and has no professional sports team. So we thought ‘look, let’s connect with other Hawaiians on the island and see if we can move this a lot quicker’.”
After working for the South Canterbury Rugby Union from 2009 to 2013, Kilgour went to manage the Cook Islands national team.
Kanaloa has approached former All Blacks assistant coach Mick Byrne to take over as head coach.
Former All Black Tamati Ellison is also set to be involved in the coaching team.
The Hawaiian team would join Major League Rugby as one of the western conference teams, pitting it against teams such as San Diego Legion and Seattle Seawolves.
Major League Rugby and Kanaloa have entered into an exclusive negotiating period to finalise terms.
Kanaloa aims to have a roster made up of 25% local players but would rely heavily on talent from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands.
Before coming to Timaru, Kilgour had been assistant manager to Ant Strachan with the Blues franchise.
Major League Rugby was founded in 2018 with seven teams.
It has since has grown to 13 teams: 12 from the United States and one from Canada.
Broadcast partnerships include ones with CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports 2, ESPN+ and ESPNews, as well as other national and local market platforms.