(Reuters) – Fijian Drua will be based in Australia for the inaugural season of the Super Rugby Pacific competition next year to avoid potential travel complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiji Rugby said on Friday.
The new 12-team competition https://www.reuters.com/article/rugby-union-super-idUKL4N2Q11BA announced by New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia is set to begin on Feb. 18 and will have a three-week playoffs schedule in May-June, wrapping up before the July international window.
Fiji Rugby Chairman Conway Beg said it was a “difficult but necessary decision” to ensure the competition is free of disruptions.
“We need to give our team every opportunity for success and the uncertainty around restriction-free travel between Fiji, Australia and New Zealand as early as February 2022 due to COVID-19 was just too great a risk,” Beg said in a statement https://www.fijirugby.com/fijian-drua-set-sail-in-super-rugby-pacific-from-2022.
“For this reason, the Fijian Drua will be based in Australia for the 2022 season, playing their home and away matches in Australia and New Zealand.”
Moana Pasifika will play their home matches mainly in New Zealand.
Beg added that the players and staff were making a sacrifice to participate in the competition but looked forward to the club playing their home matches in Fiji in the 2023 season once travel restrictions are eased.
The new competition builds on ‘Super Rugby Trans-Tasman’, which was played between Australia and New Zealand’s sides this year.
The earlier version of the Super Rugby competition featured South African teams and Argentina’s Jaguares but was suspended last year due to the pandemic.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)