A Pacific Island Super Rugby team has never looked more likely but prospective franchisees are being urged to work with the national unions in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

New Zealand Rugby released the findings of the Aratipu Report on Friday, which recommended a Pasifika team be included in a revamped Super competition from next year.

Pacific Rugby Players CEO Aayden Clarke said, while there was still a lot of water to go under the bridge, the signs were promising.

“I know New Zealand Rugby’s appetite is really high at the moment, which I commend them on,” he said.

“We’ve been encouraging them around really playing a leadership role for World Rugby in terms of supporting and providing opportunities for the Pacific and that seems to be happening.”

The prospect of a Pasifika Super Rugby side followed confirmation a Pacific Island-owned team had received provisional approval to play in North America’s Major League Rugby competition from next year.

Kanaloa Hawaii Rugby, whose backers included five former All Blacks, had also held discussions with New Zealand Rugby about the possibility of joining the new-look Super Rugby competition.

Kanaloa CEO Tracy Atiga said that most sporting clubs were driven by money but Kanaloa Hawaii intended to pioneer a new approach based on Maori and Pasifika values.

“The world hasn’t seen a club or a team that’s been delivered through a village ethos,” she told Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon.

“We know that the benefits of village ethos is that our players will actually be more comfortable and more willing to perform at that higher level, more comfortable in that space, so what we’re excited about is actually the performance level that comes out of this.

“Nobody’s actually seen a team that’s been delivered with a Maori/Pasifika lens of coaching ethos, a cultural aspect to it.”

Aayden Clarke has held discussions with NZ Rugby and Kanaloa Hawaii and said this is the best chance the Pacific Islands have ever had of securing a Super Rugby team.

“I think there’s a number of parties, if there is a slot or opportunity opened up for that team, who are interested in terms of running that operation and then financing that operation, which is another discussion,” he said.

“But the best thing from our perspective is…because of the blank canvas that’s been thrown in front of all of us that we could have Pacific Island team in that professional competition. We know that it’s the right thing to do but also there’s a talent base across the world that’s more than enough for that team.”

RNZ

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