Super Rugby could finally have Pacific Island representation by next year after New Zealand Rugby [NZR] agreed to a “game changer” broadcast revenue sharing agreement with two of the competition’s prospective franchises.
According to a report from Stuff, NZR will split its broadcast revenue with Moana Pasifika and a Fijian team – expected to be the Fijian Drua, which previously competed in Australia’s now-defunct National Rugby Championship – upon their inclusion in the competition in 2022.
Joining a 12-team Super Rugby competition and playing alongside the 10 existing New Zealand and Australian franchises would be significant for Pacific Island rugby, especially after years of false hope since Super Rugby’s inception in 1996.
Pacific Rugby Players [PRP] chief executive Aayden Clarke told Stuff on Tuesday that, while more work needs to be done before the final sign-off is given, he has “never been more confident” of Pacific Island inclusion in Super Rugby following NZR’s decision to share its broadcast revenue.
“It’s a game changer from the other times Pacific Island teams have tried [to get a Super Rugby licence],” Clarke said.
“That detail is yet to be determined and it’s being worked through right at this very point about what that could look like.
“But the good news is that, yes, they will get a cut.
“Unlike other times, NZ Rugby need this to happen. The competition needs change. It needs diversity.
“Both of these teams are going to bring a hell of a lot to the table when it comes to public interest and fan base. So, there has been a different outlook from NZ Rugby.”
Last month, the Fiji Rugby Union announced it was seeking up to $10 million of private capital and will offer majority ownership of its franchise in 2022.
He added that the advent of COVID-19 in Europe has left many Pasifika players based in the Northern Hemisphere open to the prospect of plying their trade in Super Rugby.
Starting French language lessons have made it tough for Brandon Paenga-Amosa not to focus on his impending Australian rugby departure.https://t.co/b7YomGFB5s
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 9, 2021
However, Clarke warned both of the new entities would need to dip into the recruitment market soon, although they would be need Super Rugby licences to do so, something he said would be attainable by “mid-April”.
“These teams need to get into the recruitment space pretty quickly,” Clarke said.
“I know that a few conversations have already been had but if you’re serious about it you need the licence.
“And I’ve said to both organisations [NZ Rugby and the new franchises] they’ve got the perfect storm for recruitment at the moment.
“Two years ago it was going to cost them a lot of money to entice players out of Europe and Japan but at the moment we’ve got shrinking salary caps up north and players who have been stuck in lockdown.
“So, families are wanting to move. The opportunity is possibly a little bit cheaper than it used to be.”
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