New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia have jointly unveiled the format for the inaugural season of Super Rugby Pacific that will kick-off in February next year.
The competition will comprise of 12 teams - five apiece from New Zealand and Australia - along with Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika, who will making their debut in Super Rugby after they were granted license.
The tournament will begin on 18th February and will play 14 regular season matches along with playing three teams twice to give importance to derby matches.
Based on their performance the teams will be ranked from 1 to 12 with the top eight qualifying for a three-week play off with the top team facing eighth in the table at their home venue. Likewise, the second team will lock horns with seventh while the third and fourth ranked sides will take on sixth and fifth sides.
The tournament has been planned in such a way that it will be completed prior to the July international window with the final on 18th June.
“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," said New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby & High Performance Chris Lendrum.
“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.”
Fijian Drua's home venue is expected to be announced in due course while Moana Pasifika are set to play their home matches in New Zealand.
Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos is thrilled with the new format and is expecting a competitive tournament. He also credited NZR for the development of Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika as they look to compete with the top clubs in the Super Rugby.
"We're thrilled to confirm the competition model for next year and beyond and want to thank NZR for their hard work and effort along with the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika for their patience, and the effort that has been put into their proposals.
"This is a game-changer for Rugby in the Pacific, and indeed, the rest of the rugby world. We have seen the brilliant rugby that Fijians play in all formats of the game and their inclusion will make this new competition one of the toughest in the world.”