Interesting that they have been approved by the NZR board. So they're effectively NZ teams?
Fiji, Pasifika teams confirmed starters in Super Rugby 2022
By Sam Phillips
April 14, 2021 — 12.02pm
The Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika been granted conditional licences for entry into the Super Rugby competition in 2022.
World Rugby last month pledged a $2.16 million annual package to help guide the teams through their first three years in the competition and Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby have now deemed the expansion to a 12-team competition financially viable.
“In a significant step forward for Pacific Island rugby, Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua have been granted conditional licences to join a planned new professional competition next year, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announced today,” a NZR statement said.
“The NZR Board’s decision to approve licences is a major step toward the two Pasifika teams joining NZR’s existing five Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa clubs and Rugby Australia’s (RA) five Super Rugby AU teams in a new tournament being planned for 2022 and is conditional on their final business plans and RA’s support.”
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said the teams were now in the “final phase” of planning ahead of the 2022 season.
“We are moving into the final phase of planning for 2022 and beyond, and we have confidence that Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua will be able to meet the conditions of the licence, which includes final sign off on a sustainable business plan by 30 June,” Robinson said.
“In the next two months we will be working with Rugby Australia and the two Pasifika teams to formalise their place in the new competition for what we believe will kick off an exciting, new era for the professional game.”
The Pasifika team is expected to be partly based in south Auckland and the Fijians - who were part of the now-defunct NRC - could be partly based in western Sydney.
“That’s one thing that’s been brought up,” Fiji general manager of rugby Simon Raiwalui told the Herald.
“Obviously Fiji is a small market. We would definitely look at playing matches externally. Whether that’s in Australia, New Zealand or whatever other opportunities become available to us.
“With the Fijian and Pasifika communities in both countries and throughout south-east Asia, there are huge communities and huge support for anything Fiji rugby. That’s definitely an opportunity.”
Raiwalui believes the lure of returning home will help bring many Fijian stars now plying their trade abroad back to Fiji in the near future.
“One thing we don’t struggle with is talent. That’s our strongest resource. Obviously, it’s going to come down to timing with contracts and turnover,” he said.
“The first couple of years it’s going to be about building that initial squad. We have obviously talked to a lot of our talent worldwide. Whether that’s Australia, New Zealand or Europe.
“And there is a lot of interest to come back at the first opportunity to come and live in Fiji. To work and live in their home country, with their families and be able to earn a competitive salary
“It’s going to come down to timing but it’s not going to just be a one year project. It’s about planning over the next two, three, four or five years and targeting guys we want to bring back.”
More to come