Super Rugby's future confirmed after turbulent times
NEWS: The Super Rugby Pacific competition will remain intact until at least 2030 following a joint agreement between Australian and New Zealand rugby bosses announced Friday.
The future of the annual southern hemisphere competition was uncertain beyond next year after Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan threatened in June to pull his country’s teams out, citing an unfair division of revenue.
But the two national unions have confirmed they will extend their joint venture agreement for another seven years.
A new governance structure will oversee the 12-team competition, which will retain the same format and continue to comprise five teams each from New Zealand and Australia.
The agreement also commits to retaining two Pacific Island teams – Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua – who both made their debuts this year.
Under the current two-year agreement, New Zealand Rugby receives Aus$89 million (US$60.5 million) in annual broadcasting revenue while Rugby Australia earns Aus$33 million.
McLennan had previously said the disparity was untenable and could prompt Australia to form its own competition if the share of revenues was not re-balanced.
Friday’s joint statement said the two unions had agreed to revenue-sharing terms through the end of 2025, at which point they will be reassessed.
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said the agreement represented a unified commitment to the Super Rugby Pacific format.
“This long-term agreement provides certainty for players, coaches, fans, sponsors and broadcast partners and it solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring Super Rugby Pacific is the most entertaining, innovative, and fan-focused cross-border club competition in the world.
” We charted a new path with the introduction of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua this year, and having all 91 games played in regional time zones, and believe we have entered an exciting new era for rugby in the Pacific region.”
Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos described the agreement as a “watershed” moment for the sport in Australia and the broader Pacific.
“The deal marks the dawn of a new era of Super Rugby within our region,” Marinos said.
“Securing this long-term partnership provides stability and continuity that the competition and Super Rugby clubs need to enable rugby to grow in stature and importance across the region.”
The new agreement will usher in a new governance model for Super Rugby Pacific with the establishment of a nine-person board, which will include an independent Chair, four independent Directors, and one representative each from NZR, RA, the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA), Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA).
The Board will oversee the competition with a clear, unbiased focus on governance and creating a consistent look and feel across the competition.
Marinos said there were no plans to change the current format, but also a commitment to ensure the competition remained at the forefront of dynamic and innovative Rugby.
“RA and NZR are committed to the development of the most exciting form of rugby in the world, through trialling and implementing new rules, new ways of engaging fans or broadcast innovations with our partners.”
The new Board will also have the mandate to explore the creation of an integrated women’s competition structure in order to build on the success of Super W in Australia and Super Rugby Aupiki in New Zealand.
Robinson said there was a collective commitment to grow the women’s professional competitions alongside Super Rugby Pacific.
“We saw the quality of women’s rugby throughout the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and while it is not a case of copy and paste with the men’s structure in Super Rugby Pacific, we believe there are enormous opportunities to build a world-class cross border professional women’s club competition in the Pacific region.”
The agreement confirms the current Super Rugby Pacific competition format, however, the new board will continue to look at options to adapt and adjust over time.
*Additional reporting AFP