Highlanders playmaker Josh Ione in action for Moana Pacifica against the Māori All Blacks last year. PHIL WALTER / GETTY IMAGES
Andy Marino’s, CEO of Rugby Australia, has downplayed any suggestion to block the inclusion of Moana Pacifica and the Fijian drua in Super Rugby from 2022, but said there are doubts about their readiness across the ditch.
Moana Pacifica and the Fijian Drua got conditional licenses from New Zealand Rugby last month, when NZ Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said they needed to overcome more hurdles and Rugby Australia should also be on board. However, in a conversation with reporters on Friday, Marinos said it proved difficult to get an accurate picture of the progress of the bids and that the competitiveness of the parties was a concern.
“It’s a tough question to answer because all the detailed information is not coming through us, but NZ Rugby,” said Marinos. “We know they needed this window until June 30 to get the necessary funding and structure.
“I think we’ve highlighted the fact… will they be able to get the necessary squad together in time so they can put together teams that will be very competitive in the process?” But we’re just following the advice of NZ Rugby and wait and see where they land with all the different components and all the different obstacles they have given them to reach by June 30th.
”When asked if Rugby Australia would automatically give the green light to the two new teams for 2022 if NZ Rugby saw them ready, Marinos said: “We have never said we will not support their participation. “We have always expressed a very genuine concern.
” We obviously appreciate that it is a New Zealand-led initiative, so while some information came in about their state of readiness when the announcement was made, it is well documented. “But in the future we are waiting to see if all the boxes can be ticked and if they do, it will give us a greater sense of comfort that they will be able to get up.”
Rugby Australia’s lack of full support for Moana Pasifika and the inclusion of the Fijian drua may also be due to Marinos’ hard-won experience. Marinos took over as CEO of Sanzaar in 2016, the year the league expanded to 18 teams, and while he had nothing to do with that strategic decision, he had to defend it for much of his tenure.
The Sunwolves ‘struggle to win many football games during that period also showed that the price of essentially setting up a franchise failed, and Marinos’ caution regarding the two new sides of the Pacific Islands may reveal some of the lessons.
from that period. Marinos was also CEO of Sanzaar when it turned down a Fijian bid for inclusion in Super Rugby in 2018. The structure and format of the competition for 2022 will not be locked until the end of June, when it will be announced whether Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua have been fully licensed.
The success of the Super Rugby AU competition had given Rugby Australia something “to think about,” Marinos said, but also indicated that a “full” trans-Tasman competition with 10 or 12 teams was still the likely way forward. was ahead. “We’re really encouraged by what we’ve seen,” he said.
“The enthusiasm, the fact that we have gotten an Aussie winner every week, and we have not been able to track down and bring in a lot of new young talent.” All our statistics are kept upstairs. our audience is up, turnout is positive. This is all part of the new era we are entering … but I think there is a lot of value in trans-Tasman.
“It’s also good to give yourself a litmus test against your fellow countrymen across the ditch. ”Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan already told Stuff that private equity investors preferred the trans-Tasman format, while New Zealand’s players have used their influential voices to say they want to play in Australian teams.
Marinos also said that the reports of the Bledisloe Cup held over three consecutive weekends were just “chat” at this stage, and talks were ongoing with NZ Ru gby on the dates for the Bledisloe Cup and the Rugby Championship.