New Zealand's 'shady' Super Rugby plan
NEWS: New Zealand Rugby has been slammed for not including a Pasifika side in next year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition.
On Thursday, NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey confirmed that Super Rugby Aotearoa in its existing form will return in 2021. There is also hope that there will be a “crossover” competition with Australia after that.
It means there will be no introduction of a Pasifika team in 2021, but there are plans to do so in an expanded competition in 2022. There are currently bids from Moana Pasifika and Kanaloa Hawaii for one of three additional teams from 2022.
The reason for NZ Rugby’s decision not to include Pasifika side next year was due to concerns around whether they will be competitive in such a short timeframe. There was also the issue of financial backing to ensure a sustainable future for the team.
However, one of the Pacific Island ventures has hit out at NZ Rugby. Kanaloa Hawaii Chief Executive Tracy Atiga believes her team is ready to compete next year and called the bidding process “shady”.
“We’ve got a facility and stadiums, it’s just a matter of getting the big tick to go ahead,” Atiga told Newshub.
“What we need is something in writing that says a five-year licence, so our investor groups and our sponsors can say ‘great we’re on board’.
“The bidding process was difficult because we only had an eight-day turnaround to put together a bid.”
She added: “During the eight weeks we’ve been negotiating back and forth, I don’t think there’s been much transparency around which group progressed and which group hasn’t.
“From what we know we’ve all progressed, and that’s a bit of a strange one for a tender bid. Usually, you find out halfway through whether you’re a preferred provider or not and then you have a bit more leverage to work with the group, but that hasn’t happened in this case.
“It’s been shady and secretive between us and them.”
Atiga believes a lengthy wait until 2022 is out of the question.
“If NZR are serious they’ll issue a licence … now or never,” she said.
Meanwhile, Pacific Rugby Players Welfare chief executive Dan Leo also lashed out at NZ Rugby over the decision.
“NZ Rugby have kicked into the curb the idea of a sixth ‘Pasifika’ Super team, breaking a clear promise that no questions, it will be a Pacific team added – as recommended by Aratipu Report,” Leo wrote on Twitter.
“NZR’s excuse: a 2021 Pasifika Super Rugby will not be competitive. But the window to stand up a competitive Pasifika team in NZ is now and the next three months with so many players being squeezed in the northern hemisphere. Once COVID is fixed that window closes.
“Instead a possible Pasifika team will have to battle it out for NZ slot in 2022 with well-heeled ‘China bid’ based in Bay of Plenty, reportedly paid for by ex-Blues financier Murray Bolton and support from Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest.
“Hard to believe that in 2018 same NZ Govt saw a Pasifika team as ‘a diplomatic force to counter China’s influence in the Pacific… rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence’.”
Source: Newshub & NZ Herald