The world’s best provincial competition will kick off a new era next year with Super Rugby Pacific set to take the game to fresh heights, following an agreement between Rugby Australia (RA) and New Zealand Rugby (NZR).
Set to kick-off on 18 February 2022, the new 12-team competition will see the Western Force take on newly introduced sides Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika, who will join the five Australian and five New Zealand sides and will be delivered by the joint venture partnership between RA and NZR.
All 91 matches will be ad-free, live and on-demand on Stan Sport with the Saturday night match in each round also simulcast free-to-air on the Nine Network.
The competition structure for Super Rugby Pacific will be as follows:
- 12 teams (alphabetical order) with Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs, Crusaders, Fijian Drua, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Melbourne Rebels, Moana Pasifika, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Western Force
- 18-week competition window from 18 February to 18 June 2022 and 24 February to 24 June 2023
- 91 matches in total
- Teams will play 14 regular season matches with each team to host seven matches
- Teams will play 8 teams once and 3 teams twice with a focus on derby matches
- One competition table with teams ranked 1 to 12 based on competition points
- Three-week playoff format involving the top eight teams on the overall competition table with quarters, semis and final as follows:
- Quarterfinals – 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5 with the top-ranked team hosting
- Semi-Finals – top-ranked quarter-final winner hosts against lowest-ranked quarter-final winner & 2nd highest ranked quarterfinal winner hosts 3rd highest ranked quarterfinal winner
- Final – top-ranked semi-final winner hosts the other semi-final winner
The Force has a history with the Fijian Drua, having competed against them in the National Rugby Championships in 2018 and 2019.
Force Chief Executive Officer Tony Lewis is delighted with the announcement.
“This is a hugely positive development for the competition. Growing Super Rugby is an exciting challenge and I believe the introduction of Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika is a step in the right direction,” Lewis explained.
“As a club, we want to compete against the best teams in the best competition in the world and I believe this further cements that ambition. The Force Members and fans will really enjoy what the new teams bring to Super Rugby and we can’t wait to take them on in 2022. This is a great opportunity for everyone involved.”
The Fijian Drua had previously competed in Australia’s National Rugby Championship, winning the title in 2018. Their inclusion was confirmed thanks to the support of Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby, as well as that of the Australian Government’s PacificAus Sports program.
Fiji Rugby Union will announce where Fijian Drua home matches will be played shortly, while Moana Pasifika will play their home fixtures primarily in New Zealand. Super Rugby Pacific’s two new entrants will play each other twice in the first two seasons with other examples where teams play twice to be determined by a seeding process based on 2021 results, with an emphasis on local derbies.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos said: “We’re thrilled to confirm the competition model for next year and beyond and want to thank NZR for their hard work and effort along with Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika for their patience, and the effort that has been put into their proposals.
“I want to thank Mike and Martin at Nine and Stan for their endorsement of the competition as well as Foreign Minister Marise Payne and the Australian Government for their terrific support.
“This is a game-changer for Rugby in the Pacific, and indeed, the rest of the Rugby world. 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,” Marinos said.
Memberships for the exciting new 2022 season will be available from October 4th. Further details will be communicated soon.