Pacific Island teams Fiji and the Pasifika region have been granted conditional entry for Super Rugby 2022.
A month after World Rugby pledged a $2.16 million annual package for both sides, Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby deemed the expansion financially viable and have formalised their place within the new competition.
It is yet to be announced where the teams will base their home games, with Sydney Morning Herald reporting Fiji may play out of Sydney, while Pacifika aim to play a handful of their games in New Zealand.
The conditional license means Fiji and Pasifika are now all but confirmed additions in the competition and can now formalize their player, coach and staff recruitment. It is another step forward for Pacific Island rugby.
“This is a big moment for the Drua and will provide the impetus for us to finalise our equity partners, appoint coaches, contract players and confirm our commercial partners,” Fiji Rugby Union chair Conway Begg said. “We are on the home stretch and excitement is building across Fiji.”
One player Fiji won’t be able to lure home though is new Wallabies recruit Suliasi Vunivalu who laughed off suggestions of switching allegiances, but was excited to see Fiji get their chance in Super Rugby.
“Yeah 100 per cent,” Vunivalu said. “It’s really exciting, especially for all the players, for me, to see everyone back in Fiji get that good competition with the Australian sides and New Zealand sides.
“It will be good for them and I’m looking forward to that.”
In a statement, Rugby Australia said they were excited with the announcement and the future opportunities that can developed through the region.
“We look forward to continuing our engagement with NZR on this process as we plan towards 2022,” RA chief Andy Marinos said.
“Once further conditions around the licences have been met, we look forward to formalising the composition of the teams in what will hopefully prove a new dawn for Rugby in the region.”