Rikki Swannell gives us an early taster of how the inaugural Super Rugby Aupiki will look come March (pages 42-44).
It’s been a long time coming.
More than 20 years after a women’s domestic provincial competition was introduced and three years since women were first paid to play as semi-professionals comes the next evolution: Super Rugby Aupiki.
Aupiki is a stepping stone. It draws on the journey of Tane, the Māori god of forests and birds, and his ascent to the uppermost realm to retrieve baskets of knowledge. In creating this competition, New Zealand Rugby’s Māori cultural advisor Luke Crawford has linked Tane’s story with a group of players striving to achieve higher honours. Super Rugby Aupiki is designed to bridge the gap between the Farah Palmer Cup and international rugby.
It’s a gentle dip of the toe into the waters of a professional competition, with a short, sharp format. Super Rugby Aupiki will run across four weekends, beginning on March 5-6, with teams to play home and away games in the following weeks. The final between the top two teams is slated for March 26. Some matches may be played as double-headers with the men’s Super Rugby competition while teams will have the ability to take games to smaller, regional grounds.
Twenty-eight players have been selected in each squad, at least 15 of whom have come from the Farah Palmer Cup unions represented by each franchise. Others have been drafted from outside their union.
Continue this story in our November issue.