New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Rugby Australia (RA) have finally reached an agreement after months of tense negotiations that has confirmed the future make-up of professional rugby in the Pacific.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson and RA chief executive Andy Marinos each heralded the new partnership, which will extend the existing joint venture from 2024 to 2030, as a significant moment for professional club rugby in the Pacific region.
Robinson said the agreement represented a unified commitment to the Super Rugby Pacific format.
“This long-term agreement provides certainty for players, coaches, fans, sponsors and broadcast partners and it solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring DHL Super Rugby Pacific is the most entertaining, innovative, and fan-focused cross-border club competition in the world.”
Marinos said the agreement was a watershed moment for professional rugby across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
“Today marks the dawn of a new era of Super Rugby within our region. Securing this long-term partnership provides stability and continuity that the competition and Super Rugby clubs need to enable rugby to grow in stature and importance across the region.”
Commitment to women's development
The new agreement will usher in a new governance model for DHL Super Rugby Pacific with the establishment of a nine-person board, including an independent chairperson, directors and representatives of NZR, RA and players unions on both sides of the Tasman. It will oversee the competition with the purpose of a clear, unbiased focus on governance, and the creation of a consistent look and feel across the competition.
Marinos said there were no plans to change the current format but there was a commitment to ensure the competition remained at the forefront of dynamic and innovative rugby.
The new board will also explore the creation of a fully integrated women’s competition structure to build on the success of Super Rugby W in Australia and Super Rugby Aupiki in New Zealand.
Robinson said there was a collective commitment to develop the women’s professional competitions alongside Super Rugby Pacific.
“We saw the quality of women’s rugby throughout the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and, while it is not a case of copy and paste with the men’s structure in DHL Super Rugby Pacific, we believe there are enormous opportunities to build a world-class cross border professional women’s club competition in the Pacific region.”