SYDNEY (AFP) – Rugby Australia (RA) said it would be “madness” for any Pacific Island team in a New Zealand-led revamp of Super Rugby to be based in Auckland and instead should play out of Sydney.
Plans for a Pacific side were unveiled Friday by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) in a proposed shake-up of the flagship southern hemisphere club tournament from 2021 that would cull South African teams and Argentina’s Jaguares.
They would feature in a new-look competition containing New Zealand’s five existing teams, and two to four from Australia.
NZR Chief Mark Robinson declined to say what he had in mind for the Pacific team, but previous proposals have suggested players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga could be based in Auckland, despite potentially hurting the Blues’ fan base.
RA Chairman Hamish McLennan said a Pacifika side would be better off in western Sydney, which boasts a large contingent of Fijians, Samoans and Tongans, and only from 2022.
“We have a large and wonderful Pacific Islander population in Sydney and I think that would strengthen rugby long term,” he told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
“Basing them in Auckland would be detrimental to the (Auckland) Blues, it would be madness for the Blues.”