Super Rugby gets a new look for 2022 and 2023

With so much uncertainty remaining over international travel as we head towards the end of 2021, Super Rugby fans were given a boost at the end of August when it was announced that there would be a new format for Super Rugby for the next two seasons and possibly beyond – the all-new Super Rugby Pacific.

Super Rugby Pacific is a partnership between Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby and will see two new teams join the five Australian teams and five New Zealand teams that made up last season’s Super Rugby Trans Tasman.

The two new teams, as the name of the competition would suggest, are both Pacific Island teams – Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika.

This is an exciting prospect for Super Rugby fans and the inclusion of the two Pacific teams will add to the excitement and entertainment of Super Rugby, not to mention the passionate support base that both teams are expected to bring to the competition.

How will Super Rugby Pacific be structured?

According to the official release, the Super Rugby Pacific season will be held from 18 February to 18 June 2022 and then 24 February to 24 June 2023 – an 18-week competition window.

Across the two seasons, there will be a total of 91 matches for fans to enjoy and it is hoped that by the time the new format kicks off in February next year, fans will be able to watch the games safely, no matter which country or state they are being played in.

The Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika join the ten existing teams from Super Rugby Trans Tasman including:

  • Blues
  • Brumbies
  • Chiefs
  • Crusaders
  • Highlanders
  • Hurricanes
  • Melbourne Rebels
  • NSW Waratahs
  • Queensland Reds
  • Western Force

Teams will play 14 matches across the course of the regular season with each team scheduled to host seven matches. In an exciting development, teams will play 8 teams once and 3 teams twice, with a focus on derby matches.

At the end of the regular season, there will be a straightforward table from 1 to 12 based on points achieved across the 14 matches. From there, the top eight teams will progress to a three-week playoff series with quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final all based on their position in the regular season table.

About the two new teams

Whilst this is their first time competing in the Super Rugby competition, the Fijian Drua have been competing in the Australian National Rugby Championship since 2017, winning their maiden title in 2018, so we can expect them to be competitive in Super Rugby Pacific.

It has yet to be announced where Fijian Drua will play their home games, however, you can expect a passionate crowd wherever they are playing.

Moana Pasifika is a team made up of players who identify with Pacific island nations, including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands, organised by New Zealand Rugby.

In December 2020, Moana Pasifika played a game against the Maori All Blacks, losing narrowly 28-21 at Waikato Stadium so again, we can expect them to be highly competitive.

It has been announced that Moana Pasifika will play the majority of their home fixtures in New Zealand, with a likely base in South Auckland and Mount Smart Stadium as their home.

The evolution of Super Rugby

Following the conclusion of the 2020 Super Rugby season, the licences for the South African Super Rugby sides, along with the Argentine Jaguares and the Japanese Sun Wolves all expired.

The 2021 season was played as a Trans Tasman tournament between the ten remaining franchises in Australia and New Zealand, however, the introduction of two new teams to the tournament for 2022 and 2023 brings about a new excitement for fans, both at home and those who watch on their TV at home.

For a lot of the players taking part in Super Rugby Pacific, they will first compete in domestic competitions being held in New Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand, the National Provincial Championship is already underway with Hawke’s Bay leading the way in the Premiership and Taranaki dominating the Championship. The Taranaki side has a number of All Blacks including the three Barrett brothers and all three are expected to play in Super Rugby Pacific when it kicks off in February. They are 1.08 favourites with Betway to win their semi-final meet up with Southland and hot favourites for the Championship final to be played on Friday 19 November.