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New Zealand Rugby Commits To New Professional Competition

N
ew Zealand Rugby (NZR) has confirmed plans to establish a new professional rugby competition in 2021, with hopes of “eight to ten” teams, including a new Pacific Island club.

This announcement puts doubt into the role Rugby Australia and its current teams could have in a potential trans-Tasman rugby competition, with five current Super Rugby clubs, the same as New Zealand.

NZR CEO, Mark Robinson, said the decision came out of the findings from NZR’s ‘Aratipu’ review, with the NZR board prioritising the establishment of a Pacific Island team for the new competition.

“Coming on the back of COVID-19 and its impact on future competitions, the NZR Board has committed to establishing a new professional team competition in 2021,” Robinson said.

“We have also been heartened by the success of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa.

“The focus is now on confirming the licenses for New Zealand’s five current Super Rugby clubs and that work is now underway.

“We have highly valued the partnership with these five clubs over the last 25 years of the competition and want that to continue.

“As well, there is a huge desire to have a Pasifika team involved which we think will be massive for the competition, popular with fans and is a priority for us.

“As we know, our Pacific nations and Pasifika players in New Zealand have added so much to the rich history of rugby in Oceania and our game here in New Zealand.

“To have a team that would provide an additional pathway for Pasifika players to perform on the world stage would be hugely exciting.

“As well, we will also be working with Rugby Australia to seek expressions of interest from their current Super [Rugby] clubs and other interested parties to join the competition and that work will begin in earnest.

“We are excited and interested to see what our Australian neighbours will bring to this competition,” he said.

Rugby Australia released a statement following the announcement from NZR, saying they will work with NZR in establishing a competition structure for 2021 and beyond, in Rugby Australia’s best interests.

“Rugby Australia acknowledges New Zealand Rugby’s preferred position following their announcement today regarding a potential future provincial competition from 2021 and look forward to working constructively with New Zealand Rugby in the coming weeks,” Rugby Australia said.

“Rugby Australia will also continue its discussions with stakeholders in Australia and is in constant consultation with our valued SANZAAR Joint Venture partners.

“Due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rugby Australia recognises that there is a need to review the sustainability and practicality of the current Super Rugby competition and consider alternative models that are in the best interests of Australian Rugby from 2021 and beyond,” Rugby Australia said.