The news that so many have been dreaming of, is that much closer. Disclosed to media on Wednesday, April 14, Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua have been granted conditional Super Rugby licences by New Zealand Rugby which could set the stage for those sides to compete in 2022.
In a significant step forward for Pacific Island rugby, the New Zealand (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 franchises and Rugby Australia’s (RA) five Super Rugby AU teams.
That will likely be in a new tournament being planned for 2022 and is conditional on their final business plans and RA’s support.
On the announcement, respected All Black and NZ Rugby past-President, Sir Bryan Williams, showed his sheer ecstasy when speaking about the positive status. With arms raised, he was overjoyed at the prospect of two Pacific Islands sides progressing to this stage.
— 1 NEWS – Sport (@1NewsSportNZ) April 14, 2021
His enjoyment will be felt likewise across the nations of Fiji, Sama, Tonga, and fellow Pacifica fans who can see a real pathway open.
“We are now on the cusp of realizing a long-held desire to include Pasifika in our professional game and the opportunity to embrace all that comes with that”. NZR board member and former Manu Samoa and All Blacks legend Sir Michael Jones said the announcement was a significant milestone.
“With the approval of licences, Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua can now forge ahead with the final stages of their business plans and crucially start to lock in their playing and coaching rosters for next season.
“It’s an exciting time for rugby.”
— Newshub Sport (@NewshubSport) April 14, 2021
Positive sentiment for conditional Super Rugby licence approval
Moana Pasifika steering committee co-chair, and CEO of the Pacific Business Trust, Pelenato Sakalia said, “We are excited to finally be so close to bringing the dream to reality, but there is still hard work to do, and we cannot afford to miss the moment. This decision on a license enables Moana Pasifika to proceed with confidence and complete a number of financial obligations to sign off in the coming weeks, and formalize our player, coach, and staff recruitment.”
Fiji Rugby Union chair Conway Begg added, “This is a big moment for the Drua and will provide the impetus for us to finalize our equity partners, appoint coaches, contract players and confirm our commercial partners. We are on the home stretch and excitement is building across Fiji.”
Confirmation of the two licences comes five months after NZR confirmed that Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua were its preferred partners to explore the entry of Pasifika-linked teams in future professional competitions.
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