14 Apr 2021

Moana Pasifika: "It's becoming a reality"

3:21 pm on 14 April 2021

Moana Pasifika is delighted the Super Rugby dream is becoming a reality.

The inclusion of two Pacific Island teams in a new Super Rugby competition is another step closer after New Zealand Rugby granted conditional licences to Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua.

The Flying Fijians are all smiles after another try.

The Flying Fijians are all smiles after another try. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The new competition, which also involves the five New Zealand and five Australian teams, is conditional on the two new teams final business plans and support from Rugby Australia.

Moana Pasifika Steering Committee Co-Chair and CEO of the Pacific Business Trust Pelenato Sakalia said they were excited that the dream is becoming a reality.

"This decision on a licence enables Moana Pasifika to proceed with confidence and complete a number of financial obligations to sign off in the coming weeks, and formalise our player, coach and staff recruitment."

Fiji Rugby Union Chair Conway Begg was also excited.

"This is a big moment for the Drua and will provide the impetus for us to finalise our equity partners, appoint coaches, contract players and confirm our commercial partners. We are on the home stretch and excitement is building across Fiji."

NZR Board Member and former Manu Samoa and All Blacks legend Sir Michael Jones said the announcement was a significant milestone.

"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.

Sir Michael says the Pacific community will be very happy with the announcement.

"It is going to be so well received and it will bring a sense of belief that something that has been a long held dream is on the cusp of fruition."

"Pacific people love rugby, it's in their DNA like Kiwis, it's part of their culture and so they'll see this is as a way to raise up future generations who will potentially pursue their dreams and engage in something that is good for them."

"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."

Asaeli Tikoroituma takes on the Māori All Blacks defence.

Asaeli Tikoroituma takes on the Māori All Blacks defence. Photo: Photosport Ltd 2020 www.photosport.nz

New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said they're 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.

"In the next two months we will be working with Rugby Australia and the two Pasifika teams to formalise their place in the new competition for what we believe will kick off an exciting, new era for the professional game."

Confirmation of the two licences comes five months after NZR confirmed that Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua were its preferred partners to explore the entry of Pasifika-linked teams in future professional competitions.

Moana Pasifika took the field for the first time on 5 December last year when they played the Māori All Blacks in Hamilton.

Last month World Rugby committed NZ$2.3m per annum to help the two Pasifika bids build their business case.

Established in 2017, the Fijian Drua have already built a formidable reputation on the field after winning the Australian National Rugby Championship in 2018, in only their second year in the competition.