Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has followed through with a promise to expand Global Rapid Rugby and again put up $ 1 million prize money for his second season.
The 2020 Championship kicks off in March with teams from Fiji, Samoa, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Australia in contention to lay the cash prize in the June final in Perth. A sixth team from Asia still needs to be confirmed.
Perth-based billionaire Forrest established a breakaway competition after the Western Force was fired from Super Rugby in 2017.
He established World Series Rugby a year later, before launching Global Rapid Rugby in 2018, which consisted of six teams but only 14 games played.
The upgraded 31-game structure will see home-and-away matches played each weekend bore one from the opening match on March 13. There is a bye round, in early April.
The five confirmed teams are the defending champions Western Force, Fijian Latui, Manuma Samoa, South China Tigers and Malaysia Valke.
The Force and Latui are the only teams returning with the same name.
The competition's tailored rules and scoring system will again promote attacking play, with teams rewarded for holding the ball in hand and kicking less.
Global Rapid Rugby CEO Mark Evans believes the more comprehensive draw will attract supporters.
"The evolution from a showcase series to a home-and-away season will multiply the success we've had this year in many ways," Evans said.
"Especially giving Fiji and Samoa access to a full-scale, international competition is a tremendous result for the sport worldwide."
The $ 1 million carrot matches the winning prize Forrest dangled last year.