Super Rugby: World Rugby gives funding to two Pacific Super Rugby expansion sides

The inclusion of the Pacific Islands in future iterations of Super Rugby has taken another positive step forwards, after World Rugby have provided funding to the two prospective franchises.

World Rugby have confirmed an annual funding package of NZ$2.3m for three years to two Pasifika sides, with the intent of seeing them join Super Rugby as early as 2022.

The financial support package is subject to New Zealand Rugby's approval, and key conditions being met.

Earlier this month, it was reported that New Zealand Rugby had agreed to allocate broadcast funding of their own to two prospective franchises.

Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua are the two sides, both supported by national unions, as well as private equity.

"From a strategic perspective, it provides the best-possible platform and pathway for the islands to reach their potential," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont says.

"On a human level, this is absolutely the right thing to do. It's great for the players, allowing them to make the choice for the first time to be part of a local professional team at the top level of elite club rugby."

Moana Pasifika have already played on Kiwi soil, last year beaten 28-21 by the Māori All Blacks in Hamilton.

Meanwhile Fijian Drua have existed since 2017, playing in Australia's domestic National Rugby Championship - which they won in 2018.

The news of the additional two sides will be a welcome relief to Super Rugby as a whole, coming after South Africa's decision last year to withdraw their sides in the hope of playing in European competitions.

The decision will also be key in shaping the future of Pacific Islands rugby at test level, able to provide a local, professional outlet for players, who currently look abroad to Europe and Japan for opportunities to ply their trade - often at the expense of their international ambitions.