Fijian Drua to be based in Australia for 2022 Super Rugby Pacific
Joining Moana Pasifika, to be based out of New Zealand, as two of the new expansion teams in the revamped competition, the Drua won’t play in Fiji in 2022 due to concerns regarding the country’s Covid-19 situation.
Fiji Rugby chairman Conway Beg said in a statement on Friday that, although it “was a difficult” decision to make, home matches for the Drua presented “too great a risk”, forcing the start-up franchise to relocate for their first season of action.
“This was a difficult but necessary decision to ensure that our first season in Super Rugby was as disruption-free as possible in order to achieve our first season objectives,” Beg said.
“We need to give our team every opportunity for success, and the uncertainty around restriction-free travel between Fiji, Australia and New Zealand as early as February 2022 due to COVID-19 was just too great a risk.
“For this reason, the Fijian Drua will be based in Australia for the 2022 season, playing their home and away matches in Australia and New Zealand.”
“Even though the Fijian Drua will not host a home match in Fiji next year, this remains a joyful day for Fijian rugby fans.
“It will most definitely be a sacrifice for our players, coaching staff and team management to be away from Fiji for the duration of the season, similar to the sacrifices by other Fijian teams to participate and succeed in other competitions (most notably, the Olympics).
“But everyone realises the massive opportunity Super Rugby Pacific presents for our players and for the future of our 15s programme.”
However, Beg made note that the Drua “have every intention” of being based out of Fiji in 2023, which would allow the Pacific Island nation to stage seven home matches.
Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding their home base, Beg said he is excited for the Drua to take to the field for the first time since the 2019 National Rugby Championship in Australia.
“We have now signed our unconditional license for the Fijian Drua, and in due course, we will confirm the establishment of the Fijian Drua as a separate legal and commercial entity,” Beg said.
“The club will have its own Board of Directors, management, and staff. And of course, most excitingly, the signing up of a squad of Fijian players who will pit their skills against some of the best in the world once the competition kicks off in February 2022.
“We cannot thank NZR and RA enough for giving the Fijian Drua the opportunity to participate in Super Rugby Pacific, and World Rugby for their continued support.
“The South Pacific has traditionally been the game’s global talent goldmine, but NZR and RA’s commitment will help us provide professional pathways for our players right here at home.”
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