The draw can now be realized for sides that make up the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season. A 14-round draw was announced by SANZAAR on Monday, November 15 that will be a full calendar for each team, as well as for fans eager for a steady diet of rugby in the New Year.
Beginning Friday, February 18 with Moana Pasifika v Brumbies streaming out across the Pacific from the Mt Smart Stadium cauldron, the newest franchise will join Fijian Drua as two genuine Super Rugby quality teams. Well prepared and motivated, as will be their five Kiwi and Aussie opponents ready for a full draw over 18 weeks – ending June 18.
🍿 It’s going to be BIG! #SuperRugbyPacific
— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) November 15, 2021
“It’s going to be Big!” An accurate desire, and what better way to ‘do it big’ than a long, arduous season. Split in half with a rotating Bye series of mid-season rounds observed, as it could be quite exhaustive [when compared with the short Aotearoa and Super AU competitions]. Maybe a tough change for some participants to accept – though that, is another conversation altogether. But when inclusive of the full program of away games, the traditional view is that ‘players better get used to it’. Up to eight weeks of unbroken football mixed with travel and recovery; they MUST adjust easily to avoid early losses that could deal teams’ playoff hopes a deadly blow unless adapted to.
Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos said: “It’s fantastic to be able to confirm our draw for the 2022 competition, and I’d like to thank our teams, broadcasters, New Zealand Rugby, and SANZAAR for their corporation and collaboration in getting to this point.”
Playing by a ‘new book’ 2022 Super Rugby Pacific
Virgin ground for the competition in many forms, with several new dynamics that start almost immediately from the second round. Playing by a new book will introduce an amped-up ‘Super Round’ to be hosted solely in Melbourne City. A unique tactic that gives fans back-to-back-to-back days of intense competition. With a mix of curtain-raiser games and amplified on-field entertainment, all sides will play a game between Friday to Sunday. That means all concentration on the field complemented with more celebrations and local hospitality open to visitors to the state of Victoria.
ICYMI: Super Round is coming to Burn City! 🔥
✅ 12 teams
✅ 6 games
✅ 3 action-packed days!
The Sporting Capital is back with a BANG!! 🌏💥
— Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) November 15, 2021
Along with the Round 2 super-round, there is a Women in Rugby Rd 3; March 4-5, Culture Rd 6; March 25-26, ANZAC Rd 10; April 22-23, and the Heritage Rd 12; May 6-8. Each brings a focus to the player and fan-focused elements that celebrate the modern game. The women’s competition will run alongside ‘women in rugby’ Rd 3, and like in major sports around the globe do, expect players’ mother’s to make a presence on the sideline.
Each team will have seven home matches and each team will have one bye week in either Round 7, Round 8 or Round 9 providing a level playing field for all teams in the lead up to the Finals. The top eight teams on the table after the regular season will qualify for the three-week finals playoff.
NZR general manager Professional Rugby & Performance Chris Lendrum said the draw was easy to understand and a level playing field for the teams involved; “The draw reflects the new look and feel of the competition whether it’s the historic opening match at Mt Smart Stadium, the ‘Super Round’, the traditional rivalries that have built up over more than 20 years, or the first time Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua go head-to-head.”
Full calendar set with Super Rugby Pacific 14-round draw finalized
That full calendar means an early season start in mid-February, aimed at enjoying the late evenings and warm conditions. More so in Australia, yet the two host countries will want to maximize planned for open borders required for a competition involving air travel as far as Perth, Western Australia, and down to Dunedin, NZ.
No longer the vast transit involved in reaching South Africa means the intimate rivalries are pivotal. Resuming ones like the Western Force v Queensland was affirmed in Super Rugby Australia, yet the one area with a fresh new feel is where ‘two tribes collide’.
Auckland is the first city to hold two franchise’s inside the densely urban region. The traditionally homed Blues [Auckland Blues originally], who play at Eden Park. A venue more within the CBD, whereas the new player Moana Pasifika will be housed only 11km away at Mt Smart Stadium. Located in Penrose – where the New Zealand Warriors make their home – it is an industrial-zoned suburb, where a more walk-up and public transport-friendly crowd fill the ground on either side in the previously NRL-focused ground.
The big question for SANZAAR, as well as the Auckland City Council promotions department, will be what slice of the sporting public’s wallet that Moana Pasifika can draw on? As long as the pandemic environment is friendly, look for the new side to open the 2022 season with a Bang!
Note: Auckland is a city currently in Lockdown Level 3.2 (less than most strict Level 4), and is aiming to be an open and welcoming cosmopolitan venue by February. A touring Australian Capital Territory side must be invited and be well prepared to accommodate new protocols.
That is one factor each side needs to adopt early. As much as preseason assists to condition athletes to play a longer season than most are [now] accustomed to. Travel may not be as demanding yet, it will always count. Kick-off times also must be adjusted to, with more afternoon football that fans have embraced since the first Lockdown. It might transpire that fans in the northern hemisphere have to set their devices to record but, Super Rugby Pacific is now more dedicated to local teams and their fans’ needs.
And that is of major benefit to all stakeholders.
“Main photo credit”