World Rugby to provide financial, high performance and administrative support for two potential Pacific Island Super Rugby franchises
Programme objective is to boost the performances of the Pacific Islands on the world stage and provide a genuine pathway for the best talent
Players will have the opportunity to stay local, play professionally and optimise their preparation for playing international rugby
A potential historic transformation of Pacific Islands rugby has been advanced with World Rugby confirming a package of financial and administrative support to help facilitate two teams joining Super Rugby from 2022.
Subject to New Zealand Rugby (NZR) Board approval and key conditions being met, the international federation’s Executive Committee has approved a £1.2m annual funding package for an initial three-year period to support the two franchises, Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika. Both franchises will also be supported by their respective unions and private equity funding.
The decision was made following a detailed financial, performance and commercial feasibility study in partnership with New Zealand Rugby and the respective unions. The funding is conditional on these franchises satisfying the necessary financial criteria for entry.
The decision is aligned to core objectives of World Rugby’s strategic plan to increase the competitiveness of the global game and ultimately the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups. It supports the ambition to develop locally-based players into test players for the three nations, giving each union the best opportunity to perform to their full potential on the world stage.
The announcement completes a journey that began when the international federation’s Rugby Committee met in Suva in 2016 to consider opportunities to further support Pacific Islands rugby on and off the field. If accepted into Super Rugby, the teams would complete World Rugby-supported high performance journey from the Pacific Challenge competition and resulting annual Pacific Combine to the test arena.
World Rugby in partnership with Fiji Rugby and the Fijian Government has underwritten the Fijian Drua’s participation in Australia’s National Rugby Championship, which it won at the second attempt in 2018 (pictured).
Since its inception in 2018, 75 players have graduated from the Pacific Combine and 17 have gone on to represent the Pacific Islands on the world stage, including seven at Rugby World Cup 2019 and 12 in Fiji’s squad for the Autumn Nations Cup in 2020.