Sport Pasifika teams set to join Super Rugby
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Conditional licences have been granted to Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua to join a new Super Rugby competition from next year.
The decision follows World Rugby recently granting a £1.2m (NZ$2.3 million) annual funding package for an initial three-year period to support the two franchises in joining Super Rugby from 2022.
New Zealand Rugby said its board's decision to approve licences is a major step towards the two Pasifika teams joining the existing five Super Rugby Aotearoa clubs and Rugby Australia's five Super Rugby AU teams in a new tournament being planned for 2022. It is conditional on their final business plans and RA's support.
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Moana Pasifika is a joint Samoa and Tonga side which is looking at a south Auckland base, while the Fijian Drua are likely to be based in Suva.
While the approval is conditional, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson is confident the two teams will play in the new competition.
"We are moving into the final phase of planning for 2022 and beyond, and we have confidence that Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua will be able to meet the conditions of the licence, which includes final sign off on a sustainable business plan by 30 June.
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"In the next two months we will be working with Rugby Australia and the two Pasifika teams to formalise their place.''
All Blacks great Sir Michael Jones, who also played for Manu Samoa and is on the NZR board, announced the move at a press conference in Auckland on Wednesday to a round of applause.
"We are now on the cusp of realising a long-held desire to include Pasifika in our professional game and the opportunity to embrace all that comes with that.
"With the approval of licences, Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua can now forge ahead with the final stages of their business plans and crucially start to lock in their playing and coaching rosters for next season. It's an exciting time for rugby."
World Rugby announced last month that it had NZ$2.3m a year for three years to help the two Pasifika bids build their business case.
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