Plans for yearly Super Rugby match in Fiji well under way

By Sam Hewat

Fans are pictured before the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji. Photo / Getty
Fans are pictured before the round 15 Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium in Suva, Fiji. Photo / Getty

Super Rugby's Pacific Island adventure has been given a massive thumbs up by the Chiefs and it's understood negotiations are well advanced for a New Zealand derby to be played in Suva for the next three years.

The Fijian government underwrote Friday night's historic match between the Chiefs and Crusaders and, while the exact figure of that investment has not been revealed, it will prove to be a financial windfall for both Kiwi teams who make the trip.

Chiefs chief executive Andrew Flexman told Newstalk ZB's Tony Veitch that the franchise made more money from hosting the match in Suva than they would have from a sold-out FMG Stadium Waikato.

Understandably Flexman could not be happier with the concept, or the end result.

"I think we've ticked some pretty significant boxes," Flexman said. "As I said to a lot of key Fijian people last night, including the prime minister, we'd love the opportunity to be back."

Flexman also stressed the importance of taking rugby to the Islands, saying their fan base deserved this opportunity.

"The passion the Fijian people have for the game is, in my opinion, unparalleled," he said. "

"The commercial aspects are one part of it but, as a code, we have a wider obligation to the Islands to harness their passion."

Warren Goddard was part of the commercial team who put the Fijian deal together, which included a payment to the Crusaders.


He said the Chiefs made twice as much from the match than they would have have if they had stayed in Hamilton.

"The model was based on averaging out the yield of their stadium for the last five years, and then doubling it," he said. "Then we looked after the Crusaders, and we looked after Sky, and we did three charter flights."

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was in no doubt Friday night's match should not be a one-off.

"I thought it was brilliant," he said. "They turned it on big time, and you could tell by the communities they were excited to have Super Rugby there."

On the issue of adding to an already taxing travel schedule for players, Rennie had no problem with the Suva trip.

"To be honest, sometimes travelling to a place like Invercargill takes longer than flying to Suva."

The Chiefs in conjunction with Sanzar and the Player's Association will conduct a full review into all aspects of this Island concept. But all indications point to Super Rugby returning to Fiji next year and beyond.

- NZ Herald

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