Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika will join the best Australian and New Zealand rugby sides in a new-look Super Rugby Pacific contest from 2022. The 12-group rivalry was elastic stepped on Monday, with the debut season to start off on 18 February one year from now.
The old Super Rugby contest, which additionally highlighted groups from South Africa, Argentina, and Japan, has now formally been disbanded – a result that would have in the long run happened even without the staggering impacts of Covid-19.
Australia and New Zealand will hold their five expert establishments for the new Pacific contest. The Western Force had been chopped out from Super Rugby in 2017, yet they were brought once again into the overlay for Super Rugby AU and furthermore the trans-Tasman Super Rugby rivalry 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.
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.
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.”
Blues re-sign four key players ahead of Super Rugby Pacific
The Blues have re-signed four key players as they look to clinch back-to-back titles in next year’s inaugural Blues Super Rugby Pacific.
The Super Rugby Trans-Tasman champions have secured lock Josh Goodhue and first-five Stephen Perofeta for an extra year, while utility forward Tom Robinson and playmaker Harry Plummer have re-signed until 2023.
By keeping both Plummer and Perfoeta onboard, the Blues remain well-equipped at first-five with All Blacks star Beauden Barrett set to return to the franchise next year after his season-long sabbatical with Suntory Sungoliath in Japan.