After months of negotiations and rumours of an impending split, powerbrokers have confirmed Super Rugby Pacific will remain unified for the foreseeable future.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos and New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson fronted media in Sydney on Friday to announce the contract extension through to 2030.
It comes after ructions earlier this year as Rugby Australia threatened to pull out of Super Rugby Pacific and establish its own domestic Super Rugby competition.
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Importantly, a key stumbling block has been overcome with both parties coming to an agreement with regards to revenue sharing until the current broadcast deals expire, set for the end of 2025.
A Rugby Australia statement confirmed further financial agreements are to be determined following the finalisation of future broadcast agreements.
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“This long-term agreement provides certainty for players, coaches, fans, sponsors and broadcast partners and it solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring Super Rugby Pacific is the most entertaining, innovative, and fan-focused cross-border club competition in the world,” Robinson said.
“We charted a new path with the introduction of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua this year, and having all 91 games played in regional time zones, and believe we have entered an exciting new era for rugby in the Pacific region.”
Marinos added, “Today marks the dawn of a new era of Super Rugby within our region. Securing this long-term partnership provides stability and continuity that the competition and Super Rugby clubs need to enable Rugby to grow in stature and importance across the region.”
The new agreement will see the establishment of a new Super Rugby Pacific governance model and a nine-person board.
That board will include an independent chair, four independent directors, as well as one representative each from New Zealand Rugby, Rugby Australia, the New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA), and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA).
The board will have a “clear, unbiased focus on governance” and create “a consistent look and feel across the competition.”
On top of that, the board has confirmed it will explore the creation of an integrated women’s competition in an effort to build on the success of Super W in Australia and Super Rugby Aupiki in New Zealand.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan threw a grenade across the Tasman on the eve of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific finale between the Crusaders and Blues, telling New Zealand Rugby chairman Stewart Mitchell that the 2023 edition of the competition would go ahead unaffected but there were no guarantees beyond that.
Rugby Australia reportedly sought a better financial position while New Zealand Rugby apparently refused to budge on the revenue share.
Under the former SANZAR set-up, the money was split evenly between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Super Rugby Pacific will continue in 2023 with five teams from Australia, five from New Zealand, as well as the new Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika outfits.
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