No Pasifika teams 'were ready' to join Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2021 - NZR

New Zealand Rugby has cleared the air in what's proved to be a tumultuous week for rugby in the southern hemisphere.

Richie Mo'unga. Source: Photosport

NZR chairman Brent Impey confirmed there will be Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2021, with a repeat of this year's five-team format.

The two round competition will also have the addition of finals.

“Super Rugby Aotearoa will be back, after the success of the 2020 competition it became really a no-brainer that we do something similar again in 2021," said Impey.

“Wednesday there was a board resolution to have a five-team Super Rugby competition, subject to ongoing dialogue with the Players Association, Sanzaar, Sky and others.”

Impey also confirmed NZR's intentions to add a Pasifika team, however they would not feature next season.

He said work still needs to be done to convince NZR that the option of a Pasifika team based here or in Hawaii is viable logistically and financially.

“There has been a lot of speculation around our keenness to include a Pasifika team in Super Rugby, and we’re still committed to getting that across the line at some point. But the board believes we must get this right,”

“The last thing we want is for any team to come in and get smashed. Yes, there were parties that wanted licences for 2021, but we considered that both on the field and off the field none were ready," he added.

The chairman also came forward in the zoom press-conference on Thursday night to defend his organisation after media reports on both sides of the Tasman suggested NZR had agreed to the controversial Rugby Championship schedule.

The All Blacks' final test of the tournament against the Wallabies on December 12th would force players to undergo quarantine over Christmas, something which NZR had said it never did and never would agree to.

Impey says the leak of minutes from SANZAAR meetings which suggest otherwise have been misconstrued.

“The notes that have been published are not board minutes and have got a fundamental error in them as far as we’re concerned that says the six-week draw was agreed by all. I can tell you it wasn’t."

He added, NZR "kept telling them right up until the time they announced the draw" that they did not agree to the final schedule and dates.

Impey said the organisation challenges those who questioned NZR's integrity.

“The notes also quite clearly refer to an impasse and there are many emails that prove this. So our position has never changed. Having said that, our focus is trying to get this TRC issue sorted and we’re not going to bother to engage in tit-for-tat on so-called notes which weren’t minutes and weren’t board minutes either."