Super Rugby Pacific is almost upon us, and not a day too soon for some. Finally, Crusaders Rugby Pacific Island teams are a reality, with the inclusion of Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua from the 2022 season.
They join five New Zealand and five Australian teams for the latest version of Super Rugby, one which has emerged from the ruins of the still lingering Covid-19 pandemic.
The 12-team competition is the latest variety on a long list since rugby went professional in 1995, leading to the launch of Super 12 in 1996.Teams from South Africa, Argentina and Japan have come and gone, as many as 18 teams have featured, and Sanzaar once discussed expanding the competition to 21 teams.
What a farcical and sorry excuse for a competition this watered-down shemozzle was.
Sure, it was a product of the pandemic, one launched so New Zealand and Australian teams could take a break from cannibalising each other, but any competition which crimps 10 teams into two after five weeks is seriously flawed.
In fact, so laughable was this condensed competition, in which the New Zealand teams occupied the top five spots, it’s hard to know if the Blues were serious when they celebrated as if they’d actually won something meaningful.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has provided an update on Richie Mo’unga’s availability for the beginning of next year’s Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific campaign.
Last month, it was reported that Mo’unga is expected to miss as many as six of the the revamped competition’s opening rounds due to a clause in his contract that allows him to sit out the first few weeks of Super Rugby Pacific.
Conversely, Mo’unga also has the option not to sit out any of the Crusaders’ first few matches, but whether or not he will be out of action remains to be seen.
Speaking to media on Tuesday, Robertson said the Christchurch-based franchise is awaiting the revised draw for next year’s competition amid Covid-19 travel restrictions between New Zealand and Australia.
The draw for the inaugural edition of Super Rugby Pacific was released last month, but the arrangement of fixtures is being adjusted in the wake of the New Zealand Government’s fresh border restrictions, which will come into effect next year.
As such, any confirmation about Mo’unga’s availability for the Crusaders has been put on hold, but Robertson revealed he has spoken to all of his squad’s All Blacks since their return from Europe three weeks ago.
“We’re going to wait until the draw’s finalised before we make a decision on that [Mo’unga’s absence from Super Rugby],” Robertson said.