Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika will join the best Australian and New Zealand rugby sides in a new-look Super Rugby Pacific competition from 2022. The 12-team competition was rubber stamped on Monday, with the inaugural season to kick off on 18 February next year.
The old Super Rugby competition, which also featured teams from South Africa, Argentina, and Japan, has now officially been disbanded – an outcome that would have eventually occurred even without the devastating effects of Covid-19.
Australia and New Zealand will retain their five professional franchises for the new Pacific competition. The Western Force had been axed from Super Rugby in 2017, but they were brought back into the fold for Super Rugby AU and also the trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition once Covid hit.
The Force, backed by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest, made the Super Rugby AU finals this year and are expected to get stronger due to their strong financial position.
Fijian Drua had previously competed in Australia’s National Rugby Championship, winning the title in 2018. It is still yet to be confirmed where the Fijian Drua home matches will be played. Moana Pasifika will play their home fixtures primarily in New Zealand.
Super Rugby Pacific Set For 2022 Kick-Off
The world’s premier rugby competition today confirmed the additions, with Rugby Australia (RA) and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) officially announcing the formation of Super Rugby Pacific for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
The ground-breaking 12-team competition involving five Australian and five New Zealand sides, is set to kick-off on February 18, with the Final to be played on June 18, 2022.
The complete competition structure for Super Rugby Pacific for 2022 and 2023 will be as follows:
- 12 teams (alphabetical order) with Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs, Crusaders, Fiji Drua, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Melbourne Rebels, Moana Pasifika, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Western Force
- 18-week competition window from 18 February to 18 June 2022 and 24 February to 24 June 2023
- 91 matches in total Teams will play 14 regular season matches with each team to host seven matches
- Teams will play 8 teams once and 3 teams twice with a focus on derby matches
- One competition table with teams ranked 1 to 12 based on competition points
- Three-week playoff format involving the top eight teams on the overall competition table with quarters, semis and final as follows:
- Quarterfinals – 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5 with the top ranked team hosting
- Semi-Finals – top ranked quarter-final winner hosts against lowest ranked quarter-final winner & 2nd highest ranked quarterfinal winner hosts 3rd highest ranked quarterfinal winner
- Final – top ranked semi-final winner hosts the other semi-final winner
Teams will play 14 regular season matches with each franchise to host seven of them. The fixture will be set out in a manner where every team plays each other at least once, along with three double-up matches. Those double-up matches will have an emphasis on derbies.
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) September 28, 2021
The top eight sides on the ladder will qualify for the finals, which will run over three weeks in a simple quarter-final, semi-final, final format. The 18-week season will be completed prior to the July international window.
Games will be broadcast on Stan Sport, with the Saturday night match in each round also simulcast free-to-air on the Nine Network.
“This is a game-changer for Rugby in the Pacific, and indeed, the rest of the Rugby world,” Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said. “We have seen the brilliant rugby that Fiji play in all formats of the game and their inclusion will make this new competition one of the toughest in the world.”
New Zealand’s general manager of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said the Super Rugby Pacific competition marked an exciting new phase.
“The trans-Tasman rivalries are crucial to our sport in the southern hemisphere, and the existing Super Rugby clubs have built a wonderful history and legacy over 26 years,” Lendrum said.
“Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua will add an enormous amount of energy, skill and talent to the competition, not to mention a passionate support base. The Pasifika nations have added so much to world rugby over the years and this is an opportunity to enhance the standing of Pasifika rugby.”