Newcomers kick off Super Rugby Pacific

Newcomers Moana Pasifika will kick-off the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific competition against the Brumbies at Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium on 18 February, before all 12-teams head to Melbourne for the second round.

The draw for the 15-week regular season, announced on Monday, gives teams a total of 14 matches. These are made up of 11 round-robin fixtures plus the introduction of three additional rivalry matches which will see each team play a home and away series against three other teams.

The top eight teams will join a play-off series in the first week of June. The final is scheduled for 18 June.

New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby and Performance Chris Lendrum said the draw was easy to understand and a level playing field for the teams involved.

"The draw reflects the new look and feel of the competition, whether it's the historic opening match at Mt Smart Stadium, the Super Round, the traditional rivalries that have built up over more than 20 years, or the first time Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua go head-to-head on ANZAC weekend.

"We have two new clubs who are building competitive squads right now, and 10 other clubs who are excited by a fresh challenge. I think the inaugural season of Super Rugby Pacific will be a true celebration for rugby in the Pacific and will showcase the immense playing and coaching talent in the region."

New Zealand's five Super Rugby clubs, the Blues, Hurricanes, Chiefs, Crusaders and Highlanders, as well as Moana Pasifika, will confirm their 38-man squads on 22 November.

The first round will also deliver a classic southern derby between the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders and the Highlanders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch.

The Blues host Fiji Drua in the first of three home games with afternoon kick-offs on 19 February.

Six home games have been confirmed for Eden Park, with the Blues still in planning to play one home game out of Auckland.

The Hurricanes and Chiefs will start the season on the road against the Waratahs and Reds respectively in Sydney and Brisbane, while the final match of Round 1 is an all-Aussie affair between the Force and the Rebels.

Round two will be a Super Round in Melbourne with all 12 teams playing at AAMI Park over three straight days of double-headers.

Super Rugby Pacific will also embrace diversity with Women in Rugby to be celebrated in Round 3, a Culture Round in Round 6, ANZAC Day in Round 10, and a Heritage Round in Round 12.