Super Rugby Pacific format confirmed for 2022

Date published: August 30 2021 - News Desk

Super Rugby Pacific will kick off a new era for the southern hemisphere’s leading professional rugby competition next February with a 15-week regular season and a refreshed finals format, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Rugby Australia (RA) have announced.

The 2022 season will be historic for rugby in the Pacific region with the introduction of the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika, who will join New Zealand’s five clubs and Australia’s five clubs in a 12-team tournament.

Delivered by the joint venture partnership between NZR and RA, Super Rugby Pacific will kick off on February 18 next year with an eight-team play-off series culminating in a final on June 18.

More local derbies

Teams will play each other once across the 14-week regular season, along with playing three teams twice, with an added focus on delivering more local derbies following the success of Super Rugby AU and Aotearoa.

The final series will see the top eight teams battle it out, with quarters, semis and final as follows:

– Quarter-finals – one v eight, two v seven, three v six and four v five with the top ranked team hosting.

– Semi-finals – top ranked quarter-final winner hosts against lowest ranked quarter-final winner & second highest ranked quarter-final winner hosts third highest ranked quarter-final winner.

– Final – top ranked semi-final winner hosts the other semi-final winner.

The Fiji Rugby Union will announce where the Fijian Drua home matches will be played shortly, while Moana Pasifika will play their home fixtures primarily in New Zealand.

“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 and Moana Pasifika for their patience, and the effort that has been put into their proposals,” said RA CEO Andy Marinos.

“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 Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 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.”

NZR general manager professional rugby and high performance Chris Lendrum added: “We are entering an incredibly exciting new phase for rugby in the Pacific region. 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.

“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.

“Fans are going to see incredible skill and physicality, and the regular season and finals series will undoubtedly unearth the best side in the tournament.”

Moana Pasifika chairman Sir Michael Jones said: “Moana Pasifika acknowledges and thanks New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia for their commitment to building an exciting Super Rugby Pacific competition and the round-robin format definitely makes it even more attractive. It is a historic time for rugby in the Pacific and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Fiji Rugby CEO John O’Connor, on behalf of the Fijian Drua, said they are thrilled to see a format that offers all participating teams a fair shot at the play-offs. He also expressed gratitude to NZR and RA for making Fiji’s Super Rugby dreams come true.

“The South Pacific has traditionally been the game’s talent goldmine globally, but NZR and RA’s commitment will help us provide professional pathways for our players right here at home. We will repay the steadfast faith shown by our partners by bringing high octane flair and skills that are uniquely Fijian to Super Rugby Pacific,” he said.

“The Fijian Drua eagerly look forward to announcing the next milestones in our journey, which will include assembling a squad of players who will light up the competition and delight fans week in, week out.”

The Super Rugby Pacific draw will be announced in coming weeks.