New Zealand will reprise the domestic Super Rugby Aotearoa competition in 2021, with no Australian or Pacific islands teams involved, the chairman of the national governing body said on Thursday.
New Zealand set up Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020 for its five professional franchises after the broader Super Rugby championship was abandoned due to COVID-19.
Governing body New Zealand Rugby had hoped to include a team from the Pacific islands for next year’s tournament and invited expressions of interest from Australia.
However, its chairman Brett Impey said the pandemic had shelved those plans.
“COVID has forced us to think domestically for next year,” Impey told reporters on a video call.
“Given the success of Super Rugby Aotearoa, it became a no-brainer that we do something similar in 2021.”
NZR’s decision means Australia will also be expected to repeat its domestic Super Rugby AU competition in 2021.
Impey said he hoped Super Rugby Aotearoa could be expanded with up to three extra teams in 2022.