Rugby 2022: Super Rugby Pacific deal confirmed

Fears of a breakaway competition have been allayed, with Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby announcing a new joint-venture agreement that will keep the Super Rugby Pacific competition in place until 2030.

The 12-team format includes five each from Australia and New Zealand as well as Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua who joined this year’s competition.

The Crusaders defeated the Blues in an all New Zealand final back in June, with the Brumbies going down by a point in their semi-final.

“Today marks the dawn of a new era of Super Rugby within our region,” Rugby Australia chief executive Andy 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 biggest change to the governance model is the introduction of a nine-person board that will include an independent chair, four independent directors and one representative from NZR, RA, the NZ Rugby Players Association and the Rugby Union Players’ Association.

While there are no plans to change the format of the competition, the board has an eye on the future to ensure the game doesn’t get stale.

“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 and broadcast innovations with our partners,” Marinos said.

“The partnership will enable our players, clubs and partners to plan ahead with certainty in a competition that we are sure will feature some of the best rugby in the world.”

A revenue sharing agreement has been struck by the two countries, with any changes to be enacted after 2025 when the broadcast deal expires.

One area rugby could look to expand is the women’s game, with the board set to discuss a possible unified competition on the back of the Super W in Australia as well as Sky Super Rugby Aupiki in New Zealand.

Details of any mooted competition are yet to be tabled, but there appears to be growing demand for more women’s matches after the success of the recent World Cup.

“We saw the quality of women’s rugby throughout the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said.

“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.”

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