Unfortunately, despite the revelations about a so-called secret feasibility report sponsored by the New Zealand Government, the prospect of a Pacific Island Super Rugby team being set up is no more advanced or likely to happen now than it was in early 2016 when the concept was pushed close to the top of Sanzaar's agenda.

It was in early 2016 that Sanzaar, having finally been established as a real body with independent staff, began to form a fledgling strategic plan about how the tournament should evolve over the next 10-15 years.

Having seen a team from Argentina and one from Japan enter Super Rugby in 2016, the Pacific Islands were the glaring omission.

They had always been the glaring omission, but the fact that Super Rugby had spread to the Northern Hemisphere before it had managed to base a team of any sorts in either Fiji, Samoa or Tonga became a considerable source of embarrassment around the board table.


Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos acknowledged as much when he came to Auckland and told the Herald: "The Pacific Islands have been discussed at length. We just cannot ignore that from a high performance perspective. They tick every box and, yes, very much so.

"They are part of the thinking going forward. We have got to get the Pacific Islands included into the structure. How or what it will look like, I can't say right now. But we know there is quality there. They are almost set up and ready to go and get in there and play. Where do you geographically locate them and how do you fund it?"

At about the same time as Sanzaar was starting to ask the right questions about a Pacific Island team, it was announced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Rugby were ready to invest significant funds in what was called the Pacific Sporting Partnership: a programme designed to help improve participation rates and general health in the respective Island nations.

Such programmes tend to grab few if any headlines, but buried within the announcement was confirmation that NZR wanted to create a legacy throughout the region.

The creation of a Super Rugby team has long been part of that legacy plan which is why the feasibility study was commissioned last year and paid for by New Zealand's Government.

But all the feasibility study will do is provide a document to better inform the decision-makers about the likely financial impact of setting up a team in the region. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have an abundance of high quality players, but have a combined population of about 1.5 million people, relatively tiny economies and limited infrastructure and Sanzaar needs to understand the full extent of the commercial risk it would be taking to site a team in Suva.

The fact a study has been commissioned is not proof in itself that there is an advanced plan to set up shop in that part of the world.

Super Rugby has a strategic vision that has potential expansion options from 2021 and NZR is of the view that if there are to be more teams welcomed, then they want one of those to be based in Fiji if it is deemed to be economically viable.

That's it. This is an exercise in collecting the paperwork to support the case because Sanzaar is an organisation that needs to see things in black and white with the logo of overpaid consultants on it.

Even if it is deemed a realistic option, however, that still doesn't mean a team in the Pacific is going to happen.

There are other territories being considered and then there is Sanzaar's insistence that if the competition is to expand in 2021, it will need to do so in a multiple of three to maintain the current conference format.

The exclusion of any Pacific Island influence in Super Rugby remains the competition's greatest shame and sadly there still remains significant doubt about whether that will change any time soon.