A new agreement has been reached between Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby to secure the future of the Super Rugby Pacific club competition until 2030.
Super Rugby Pacific was formed in 2022, bringing an end to the old Super Rugby competition, which also featured teams from Argentina, Japan and South Africa. Super Rugby Pacific featured two teams from the Pacific Islands alongside the clubs from Australia and New Zealand.
The new partnership announced today (Friday) by Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby will introduce a new board to oversee the venture, which will include members from the two organisations as well as the New Zealand Rugby Players Association and the Rugby Union Players’ Association. An independent chairperson will govern the venture.
The old format of Super Rugby was abandoned after COVID-19 hit, which led to South African teams joining the European-based United Rugby Championship. Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said today’s announcement marks the dawn of a “new era” in Super Rugby.
“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,” he added.
“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.
“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.”
Mark Robinson, chief executive of New Zealand Rugby, added: “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, having all 91 games played in regional time zones, and believe we have entered an exciting new era for rugby in the Pacific region.”
The two organisations said they would continue to look at options to “adapt and adjust” the competition over time, with the potential to expand beyond 12 teams a possibility. A revenue-sharing agreement has also been reached between the parties until their current broadcast deals expire in 2025.
A combined Super W and Super Rugby Aupiki competition will also be explored on the back of the success of the recent women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Robinson said: “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.”