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World Rugby Approves Pacific Islands Super Rugby Support

World Rugby Approves Pacific Islands Super Rugby Support

World Rugby has announced a plan to provide financial, high performance, and administrative support for two potential Pacific Island Super Rugby franchises.

As part of the support package, which is pending New Zealand Rugby (NZR) board approval and key conditions being met, a £1.2 million (AUD$2.1 million) funding package for an initial three-year period will support two franchises, Fijian Drua, and Moana Pasifika.

The plans would see the two franchises join Super Rugby from 2022, with both clubs also to be supported by their respective unions and private equity funding.

The decision comes following a financial, performance and commercial feasibility study in partnership with NZR, which World Rugby chairman, Bill Beaumont, said could be game-changing.

“The game-changing potential of the executive committee’s decision to support Pacific Island Super Rugby franchises should not be underestimated,” Beaumont said.

“From a strategic perspective, it provides the best-possible platform and pathway for the Islands to reach their potential.

“On a human level, this is absolutely the right thing to do.

“It is great for the players, allowing them to make the choice for the first time to be part of a local professional team at the top level of elite club rugby.

“While recognising that there are still steps to complete, I would like to thank everyone involved, including the unions as well as New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia, for their full commitment to this project which is great for rugby,” he said.

Fiji Rugby Union CEO, John O’Connor, said the development is one of the most important in the history of Fiji rugby.

“We are excited about the possibility of the Fijian Drua joining the Super Rugby competition in 2022,” O’Connor said.

“It will be a dream come true for not only Fiji rugby but for Pacific Island rugby.

“We have been urging for such an opportunity and it is almost in our grip.

“This is the missing piece to our rugby puzzle in the Pacific Islands and more importantly to Fiji rugby.

“Being included in Super Rugby completes our elite pathway and will allow our best players to have the opportunity to play professional rugby right here at home.

“We are not over the line yet.

“However, we are working very hard to meet all the requirements set by NZR, including strict financial diligence requirements by the end of March to satisfy the NZR Board that we will be able to field a strong team on the field and a sustainable and profitable franchise,” he said.

Pacific Rugby Players chairman, Hale T Pole, said: “Our work behind the scenes over many years in partnership with Fiji, Tonga and Samoa and World Rugby has led to this pivotal moment.”

“We are close now to achieving a step that I wasn’t sure would be possible, and this funding opportunity for both teams is a big boost to help get a truly historic project across the line,” Pole said.

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