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New structure and name announced for Super Rugby

Next year’s Super Rugby tournament will feature five teams from New Zealand, five from Australia, one from Fiji and one representing both Tonga and Samoa.

The competition, which will now be known as Super Rugby Pacific, will see each side play 14 regular season matches, with the top eight sides going through to the quarter-finals.

Each team will play every side in the competition at least once, as well as three more regular season games against derby opposition when possible.

Super Rugby Pacific welcomes the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika.

The tournament is a joint venture between New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia, who haven’t exactly been getting along as of late, and features a major step forward for rugby in the Pacific Islands.

For the first time ever, players from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa will be able to play top-level professional rugby in their home country, 26 years after the sport first went professional.

The Fijian Drua had competed in Australia’s now-defunct second-tier competition known as the National Rugby Championship from 2017 to 2019 before the tournament was brought to a halt by the pandemic.

Moana Pasifika was founded just last year, and have never played in a fully-fledged competition before, but did play in an exhibition game against the Maori All Blacks in December last year.

Changes from last year.

Super Rugby has undergone significant changes in the last couple of years, brought on by the pandemic and the South African sides’ desire to play in the northern hemisphere.

In 2020, Super Rugby featured five teams from New Zealand, four from Australia, four from South Africa, one from Argentina and one from Japan, before the season was cancelled in March.

New Zealand, Australia and South Africa all held domestic Super Rugby tournaments at a later stage in the year, while Argentina’s Jaguares and Japan’s Sunwolves were left without a competition to play in.

Clubs from New Zealand and Australia once again held domestic Super Rugby tournaments this year, before ending the season with a joint tournament known as Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

The arrival of Super Rugby Pacific brings an end to New Zealand and Australia’s domestic competitions, while South African involvement in the tournament was ended with their arrival in the United Rugby Championship.

The Sunwolves have since been disbanded, as Japanese rugby chiefs have decided to focus on their own domestic tournament, while the Jaguares competed in a South American tournament this year, without the bulk of their international stars.

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