Women’s 2022 Super W draw to include Fijiana side/NZ Aupiki sides training

Women's 2022 Super W draw to include Fijiana side
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As the training intensifies, the Women’s 2022 Super W competition in Australia has been boosted with the addition of a Fijiana Drua side.

This adds a fresh women’s component to match the incoming men’s Fijian Drua teams’ debut season. They are due to be a new part of the full 2022 Super Rugby Pacific draw that begins on February 18. The inclusion of the Fijian women’s team is both a pointer to the Pacific Islands ambitions, as much as a lead-in to the upcoming 2021 Rugby World Cup tournament (where Fijiana are a participating nation).

Fiji Rugby chief executive officer John O’Connor said they were humbled and sincerely thankful to the board and management of Rugby Australia for this great opportunity. He added, “We are excited with this great opportunity since it will continue to enhance the growth of woman’s rugby in Fiji and the competitiveness of all our Women’s national teams”.

This development matches that of Super Rugby Aupiki, the New Zealand competition that involves four Kiwi women’s teams that will also help to further raise the profile across Southern Hemisphere nations. All three countries will be planning to complete their domestic challenges before scheduled International games will hold fans’ attention as the next World Champion is crowned in October.

Women’s 2022 Super W draw to include Fijiana side ahead of World Cup

O’Connor highlighted that this opportunity is “timely, riding on the wave of the achievement of the Fijiana 7s at the Olympics” and the huge increase in interest from young girls and women.

That interest is from Australia, as well as from up in Fiji, and includes the brand new Super Rugby Aupiki competition that launches over in New Zealand. So combined, it means a total of 10 women’s franchise sides across the Pacific are planning to train and compete over the domestic season. All leading into the 2021 rescheduled women’s world championship tournament scheduled from October 8, 2022.

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The best way for any nation to prepare for a Rugby World Cup is a healthy domestic rugby competition. Adding Fijiana to the Australian Super W league has huge potential for each franchise. They also play against Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Melbourne Rebels, and the Western Force women’s sides.

Fiji rugby General Manager for high-performance Simon Raiwalui said Fijiana’s inclusion into the 2022 Buildcorp Super W has come off the back of a lot of hard work and persistence from all parties involved. “The competition is stepping into the next stage of its evolution and it’s great to have Fijiana not only representing Women’s Rugby in Fiji but Women’s Rugby in the Pacific when they step out onto the field in round one.”

“Our aim is to give as many opportunities to Fijian-based talent as we can, and this announcement certainly comes as another step in that direction.”

(The proposed 2022 Super W draw is still to be finalized. Once confirmed, Last Word on Rugby will promote that schedule.)

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NZ Aupiki sides continue training ahead of 2022 season

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand Rugby is committed to building the depth of women’s rugby. Also, the introduction of Super Rugby Aupiki will benefit the national team (in that Black Ferns players and management can fine-tune their skills base, and aim towards the June International window).

The planning is for the Blues to host the Chiefs Manawa at Eden Park on Saturday, March 5 to get the inaugural season underway. The opening round concludes with Matatū (South Island) going head-to-head with the Hurricanes at Orangetheory Stadium.

Over the last few weeks, training and incorporating new team culture into the competing franchises has been the focus of the team’s management and leading players. Names like Sarah Hirini (Black Ferns Sevens captain), Jackie Patea-Fereti, Martha Mataele, as well as the imported talent of Wallaroos Arabella McKenzie and Michaela Leonard. As the first professional women’s rugby competition, Super Rugby Aupiki is breaking new ground ahead of a highly anticipated calendar year.

New Zealand Rugby general manager of Professional Rugby and Performance, Chris Lendrum said the inaugural season of Super Rugby Aupiki was a game-changer for the women’s game. “This year is going to be like nothing we’ve seen before when it comes to the women’s game and Sky Super Rugby Aupiki is a great way to get things underway. We’ve seen the four franchises assemble strong, exciting squads and this draw was the last piece of the puzzle before launching the competition in March.”

“We’re looking forward to seeing New Zealand get in behind the players and teams and make this first season really set a benchmark for years to come,” said Lendrum.

Super Rugby Aupiki is due to begin its debut season on March 5. Of note, the latest Covid-19 Omicron outbreak in New Zealand has seen the men’s sides isolated in Queenstown and NZ Rugby will have to undertake protocols for player testing of the four women’s franchise teams, leading up the opening match in Auckland on March 5.

 

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