The Crusaders will join 11 other teams in kicking off a refreshed Super Rugby competition in February next year, following confirmation today from New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Rugby Australia (RA) of the format for 'Super Rugby Pacific.'
The 2022 season will be historic for rugby in the Pacific region with the introduction of the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika who will join New Zealand’s five clubs and Australia’s five clubs in a 12-team tournament, with a 15-week regular season and a refreshed finals format.
Delivered by the joint venture partnership between NZR and RA, Super Rugby Pacific will kick off on 18 February next year with an eight-team playoff series culminating in a final on 18 June with NZR’s long-standing broadcast partner Sky providing live and exclusive access to all 91 matches.
Crusaders CEO, Colin Mansbridge, said the simplicity of the Super Rugby Pacific format will be welcome news for rugby fans.
"It's fantastic to have the format for next year's competition locked in, and work has begun in earnest to prepare a draw for fans in the next few weeks," Mansbridge said.
"There is a lot to like about the simplicity of Super Rugby Pacific, with all teams playing each other at least once, exciting derby matches being retained, and one points table streamlining the format of the competition going forward.
"It was really important to all clubs, as well as the national unions, that we got this right for our fans, and it's pleasing to see it come together with today's announcement. We look forward to sharing further details of the Crusaders seven home games in due course."
Crusaders Head Coach Scott Robertson welcomed the addition of two new teams in 2022.
"This competition is going to showcase the best of rugby in the Pacific, and the inclusion of two new teams only adds to the anticipation of next season," Robertson said.
"A revised format brings fresh challenges for all teams, and fans can look forward to 15 weeks of intense competition coming down to a knockout play-offs series to decide the 2022 champions. It's a really clear structure, and it's going to be an exciting competition for rugby fans throughout the Pacific."
Features of the Super Rugby Pacific competition structure are:
- 12 teams (in alphabetical order), being the Blues, Brumbies, Chiefs, Crusaders, Fijian Drua, Highlanders, Hurricanes, Melbourne Rebels, Moana Pasifika, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds and Western Force
- Teams will play 14 regular season matches with each team to host seven matches
- Teams will play eight teams once and three teams twice with an emphasis on derby matches
- There will be one points table with teams ranked one to 12 based on competition points
- The top eight teams on the points table will qualify for a three-week playoff format
- Quarterfinals will be – 1 v 8, 2 v 7, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5 with the top ranked team playing at home
- Top ranked quarter-final winners will host the semi-finals, and top-ranked winner of the semi-finals will host the final
- 18-week season all completed prior to the July international window
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby & High Performance Chris Lendrum said:
“We are entering an incredibly exciting new phase for rugby in the Pacific region. The trans-Tasman rivalries are crucial to our sport in the Southern Hemisphere, and the existing Super Rugby clubs have built a wonderful history and legacy over 26 years.
“Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua will add an enormous amount of energy, skill and talent to the competition, not to mention a passionate support base. The Pasifika nations have added so much to world rugby over the years and this is an opportunity to enhance the standing of Pasifika rugby.
“Fans are going to see incredible skill and athleticism, and the regular season and finals series will undoubtedly unearth the best side in the tournament.”
Fiji Rugby Union will announce where the Fijian Drua’s home matches will be played in the coming days, while Moana Pasifika will play their home fixtures primarily in New Zealand. Super Rugby Pacific’s two new entrants will play each other twice in the first two seasons with other examples where teams play twice to be determined by a seeding process based on 2021 results, with an emphasis on local derbies.
The Super Rugby Pacific draw will be announced in the coming weeks. To join the waitlist, and be among the first to know when Crusaders 2022 Memberships are on sale, click here.