Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby have formed a new partnership to deliver Super Rugby Pacific from 2022.
The world’s best provincial competition will kick off a new era in 2022 following a new joint venture partnership between Rugby Australia (RA) and New Zealand Rugby (NZR). Set to kick-off on 18 February 2022, the new 12-team Super Rugby Pacific competition welcomes the introduction of Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika who will join the five Australian and five New Zealand sides.
The competition structure for Super Rugby Pacific will be as follows:
- 12 teams (alphabetical order) with Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs, Crusaders, Fijian Drua, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Melbourne Rebels, Moana Pasifika, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Western Force
- 18-week competition window from 18 Feb 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 winner
- Final – top-ranked semi-final winner hosts the other semi-final winner
The Fijian Drua had previously competed in Australia's National Rugby Championship [pictured below], winning the title in 2018. Their inclusion was confirmed thanks to the support of Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby as well as that of the Australian Government's PacificAus Sports program.
Fiji Rugby Union will announce where Fijian Drua home matches will be played shortly, while Moana Pasifika will play their home fixtures primarily in New Zealand. Super Rugby Pacific’s two new entrants will play each other twice in the first two seasons with other examples where teams play twice to be determined by a seeding process based on 2021 results, with an emphasis on local derbies.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: "We're thrilled to confirm the competition model for next year and beyond and want to thank NZR for their hard work and effort along with Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika for their patience, and the effort that has been put into their proposals."
"I want to thank Nine and Stan for their endorsement of the competition as well as Foreign Minister Marise Payne and the Australian Government for their terrific support. This is a game-changer for Rugby in the Pacific, and indeed, the rest of the Rugby world. 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,” Marinos said.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby & High Performance Chris Lendrum said: “We are entering an incredibly exciting new phase for rugby in the Pacific region. 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."
“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."