New Zealand will reprise the domestic Super Rugby Aotearoa competition in 2021, with no Australian or Pacific islands teams involved, the chairman of the national governing body said.

New Zealand set up Super Rugby Aotearoa in 2020 for its five professional franchises after the broader Super Rugby championship was abandoned due to Covid-19.

New Zealand Rugby had hoped to include a team from the Pacific islands for next year’s tournament and invited expressions of interest from Australia.

However, its chairman Brett Impey said the pandemic had shelved those plans and “forced” the organisation to think domestically again next year.

“The last thing we want is for any team to come in and get smashed,” Impey said.

“There are parties that wanted licences for 2021 but we considered that both on the field and off the field none were ready.

“Given the success of Super Rugby Aotearoa, it became a no-brainer that we do something similar in 2021.”

NZR’s decision means Australia will also be expected to repeat its domestic Super Rugby AU competition in 2021.

“They [Rugby Australia] didn’t want to be involved in our expression of interest process, that’s entirely up to them, but we have the door open to them and dialogue around a corss-over competition once Super Rugby Aotearoa is over in 2021 and we’ve also got the door open on trans-Tasman type competition.”

Impey said he hoped Super Rugby Aotearoa could be expanded with up to three extra teams in 2022.

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