'This is a game-changer': Super Rugby Pacific format confirmed
NEWS: Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika will join the best Australian and New Zealand rugby sides in a new-look Super Rugby Pacific competition from 2022.
The 12-team competition was rubber stamped on Monday, with the inaugural season to kick off on February 18 next year.
The old Super Rugby competition, which also featured teams from South Africa, Argentina, and Japan, has now officially been disbanded – an outcome that would have eventually occurred even without the devastating effects of COVID-19.
Australia and New Zealand will retain their five professional franchises for the new Pacific competition.
The Western Force had been axed from Super Rugby in 2017, but they were brought back into the fold for Super Rugby AU and also the trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition once COVID-19 hit.
🔥 An all new beginning is coming in 2022…
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) August 30, 2021
The Force, backed by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest, made the Super Rugby AU finals this year and are expected to get stronger due to their strong financial position
Fijian Drua had previously competed in Australia’s National Rugby Championship, winning the title in 2018.
It’s still yet to be confirmed where the Fijian Drua home matches will be played.
Moana Pasifika will play their home fixtures primarily in NZ.
Teams will play 14 regular season matches with each franchise to host seven of them.
The fixture will be set out in a manner where every team plays each other at least once, along with three double-up matches.
Those double-up matches will have an emphasis on derbies.
The top eight sides on the ladder will qualify for the finals, which will run over three weeks in a simple quarterfinal, semifinal, final format.
The 18-week season will be completed prior to the July international window.
“This is a game-changer for Rugby in the Pacific, and indeed, the rest of the Rugby world,” Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said.
“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.”
NZ’s general manager of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said the Super Rugby Pacific competition marked an exciting new phase.
“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,” Lendrum said.
“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.”
Features of the Super Rugby Pacific competition structure are:
- 12 teams (in alphabetical order), being the Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs, Crusaders, Fijian Drua, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Melbourne Rebels, Moana Pasifika, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds and Western Force
- Teams will play 14 regular season matches with each team to host seven matches
- Teams will play eight teams once and three teams twice with an emphasis on derby matches
- There will be one points table with teams ranked one to 12 based on competition points
- The top eight teams on the points table will qualify for a three-week playoff format
- Quarterfinals will be – 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5 with the top ranked team playing at home
- Top-ranked quarter-final winners will host the semi-finals, and top-ranked winner of the semi-finals will host the final
- 18-week season all completed prior to the July international window