On Wednesday, New Zealand Rugby approved licenses for two Pacific island teams (Fiji Drua and Moana Pasifika), they will compete in the Southern Hemisphere starting next year. This is an important milestone in the long-awaited expansion.
The two teams, Moana Pasifika and Fiji Drua, still have to obtain financial approval before participating in the game, but last month’s World Rugby said it helped increase their income.
Former Samoa and All Blacks legend Michael Jones said, We are on the verge of realizing a long-held desire to add Pasifika in our pro game and take the chance to take advantage of everything that comes with it.
It is expected that 20% of the world's best rugby players have Pacific heritage, however top talent is almost always drawn offshore due to the lack of professional team competition on the islands.
The Fiji Drua and Moana Pasifika aim to fill this gap so that the island nations of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa can benefit from their rich rugby heritage.
Their addition in the super rugby next year means season 2022 included 12 teams, five New Zealand, five Australian, and two Pacific.
CEO of NZR Mark Robinson said We are 100% sure that the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika can meet the terms of the license, including final approval of a sustainable business plan by June 30.
World Rugby is making a total of £ 3.2 million (the US $ 4.4 million) available to the rugby union in Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa over three years to cover costs and to provide administrative and high-performance expertise.