World Rugby have announced that they will provide financial support for two potential Pacific Island Super Rugby franchises.
The Fijian Rugby Union announced last month that they would seek private investment in order to field a team in Super Rugby by 2022, granted that they met a number of key conditions set out by the New Zealand Rugby Board.
Financial backing from the sport’s global governing body will come as a great boost to the prospect of Fiji’s team, known as the Fijian Drua, as well as a second team, Moana Pasifika, which will represent Samoa and Tonga.
— Sir Bill Beaumont (@BillBeaumont) March 24, 2021
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said he was delighted to announce that the governing body has approved a £1.2m annual funding package for an initial three-year period to support the two franchises.
“The game-changing potential of the Executive Committee’s decision to support Pacific Island Super Rugby franchises should not be underestimated,” Beaumont said.
“From a strategic perspective, it provides the best-possible platform and pathway for the Islands to reach their potential.
“On a human level, this is absolutely the right thing to do. It is great for the players, allowing them to make the choice for the first time to be part of a local professional team at the top level of elite club rugby.
“While recognising that there are still steps to complete, I would like to thank everyone involved, including the unions as well as New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia, for their full commitment to this project which is great for rugby.”
Changes brought on by the pandemic.
Super Rugby has experienced significant change since cancelling the 2020 season after seven rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 15-team competition that contained teams from five nations – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, currently comprises of just 10 teams, five each from New Zealand and Australia.
The southern hemisphere tournament is currently split into two separate competitions – Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU – as a result of travel restrictions caused by the pandemic.
New Zealand and Australia’s clubs do plan to join up for a Trans Tasman competition later this year after the conclusion of their domestic seasons, but that is pending government approval.
Super Rugby is expected to do away with the separate domestic competitions next year and revert to a 12-team format, comprising of the five teams from both New Zealand and Australia, as well as the two Pacific Island newcomers.