A new women's rugby competition is being launched in New Zealand
All you need to know about Super Rugby Aupiki
New Zealand have announced Super Rugby Aupiki, a new women’s rugby competition to be played in March 2022.
Four teams have been named to take part: the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes and a combined South Island team. The latter will be governed by the Crusaders.
Squads for each team are expected to be named in the next month. Clubs will contract 28 players and they will come together for a pre-season match before the competition window in March.
New Zealand Rugby’s head of women’s rugby Cate Sexton said: “We saw a glimpse of how exciting this competition will be with the match between the Blues and Chiefs earlier this year. It also reaffirmed the need for this level of competition; will be a great opportunity for developing players.
“Next year is absolutely huge for women’s rugby and this competition will be the perfect showcase to kick things off and get the rugby public engaged in women’s rugby.”
What will the format be?
There will be four weekends of competition throughout March, kicking off on the 5/6 weekend. The following two weekends will see home-and-away fixtures for each team. And the top two teams will then compete in a final on 26 March.
All games will be broadcast on Sky Sport NZ.
What does the name Super Rugby Aupiki mean?
Organisers wanted the name to reflect a stepping stone between the Farah Palmer Cup and the Black Ferns.
New Zealand Rugby’s Māori Cultural Advisor Luke Crawford linked the name to the narratives of the ascent of Tane to the highest heavens to retrieve the three baskets of knowledge.
And that is why Aupiki was chosen as the translation means ‘the ascent to the upper most realm’.
Who are the head coaches?
The head coaches for each of the four teams have been announced.
Chiefs will have former Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting as their boss. Another ex-Black Ferns coach, former assistant Wesley Clarke, will lead the Hurricanes.
Auckland’s Farah Palmer Cup coach Willie Walker will take charge of the Blues. And Blair Baxter, Canterbury FPC coach, will be the South Island coach.
Sexton added: “It was imperative to make sure these teams were led by quality coaches, and we have achieved that with this group.
“We’re committed to this competition providing pathways for women in our game and we’ll see that in each of the wider coaching groups that the clubs assemble which is an exciting prospect.
“It was a priority to get head coach appointments locked in so now clubs can focus on their player recruitment and management teams.”
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