Rugby News

Rugby-South Auckland province linked with Pasifika Super Rugby team

WELLINGTON, Sept 13 (Reuters) - The Counties Manukau Rugby Union are working with a private group to establish a Pasifika Super Rugby side based in south Auckland, New Zealand media reported on Sunday.

New Zealand Rugby said in July they were interested in a side of players with Pacific island heritage for a new eight- to 10-team Super Rugby competition and were talking to a number of groups about the possibility.

New Zealand’s Stuff Media, the largest newspaper chain in the country, said on Sunday a group named Moana Pasifika had expressed interest in establishing a team and reached out to work in collaboration with Counties Manukau.

“We have had a lot of dialogue with the Moana Pasifika group,” Counties Chief Executive Aaron Lawton told Stuff.

“They are very impressive, and while nothing is over the line yet by any stretch, we have certainly indicated an interest to work with them on something we feel could have a massive long-term impact on rugby in our region.”

Lawton was not immediately available for comment.

The Counties Manukau provincial union draws from the south Auckland suburbs, a hotbed for development of Pasifika-heritage players for both professional rugby union and rugby league teams.

The future of Super Rugby is unclear because of restrictions to curb COVID-19. Australia and New Zealand launched successful domestic competitions this year in place of the broader international format and are expected to continue with the same structure in 2021.

If approved as a viable franchise, the Moana Pasifika team would initially play in Auckland before looking at taking games to the Pacific islands from 2022, Stuff reported.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by William Mallard