A new Women’s Super Rugby competition will start next year.
Super Rugby Aupiki will involve the Blues, Chiefs and Hurricanes, as well as a combined South Island team that will be ruled by the Crusaders and encompassing the Crusaders and Highlanders regions.
The competition will take place over four weekends in March 2022.
The name Super Rugby Aupiki reflects the fact that the competition is a crucial stepping stone between the Farah Palmer Cup and the Black Ferns, with Aupiki translating to “the rise to the highest realm”.
New Zealand Rugby Women’s Rugby Manager Cate Sexton said work is underway to bring Super Rugby Aupiki together.
“We saw how exciting this competition will be with the Blues-Chiefs game earlier this year. He also reaffirmed the need for this level of competition; will be a great opportunity for player development.
“Next year is absolutely huge for women’s rugby and this competition will be the perfect showcase to kick off and engage the rugby public in women’s rugby.”
The teams will sign 28 players, with the teams due to be named next month.
Players will gather for a preseason game before meeting four days a week during the competition window in March.
Super Rugby Aupiki kicks off on March 5.
The next two weekends will see each team’s home and away games before the first two meet in the final on March 26.
The draw will be confirmed later this year.
The Chiefs will be coached by Black Ferns Olympic gold medalist coach Alan Bunting, who recently stepped down at seven.
The head coaches who will be responsible for selecting the first Super Rugby Aupiki teams have been confirmed.
The Hurricanes will be guided by Black Ferns assistant coach Wesley Clarke, the Blues by Auckland Cup coach Farah Palmer Willie Walker and the South Island team by Blair Baxter, USA coach. Canterbury Farah Palmer Cup.
Sexton thinks the coaching appointments are solid.
“It was imperative to make sure these teams were led by quality coaches, and we achieved that with this group.
“We’re committed to this competition providing avenues for women in our game and we’ll see that in each of the larger coaching groups that clubs assemble, which is an exciting prospect.
“It was a priority to lock in head coach appointments so that clubs can now focus on recruiting their players and their management teams,” Sexton said.
Walker coached the Blues’ first-ever women’s team in their game against the Chiefs earlier this year. The former Super Rugby player is in his first season with the Auckland FPC team.
Bunting will join the Chiefs squad, having spent the past decade working with the Black Ferns Sevens. The two-time NZR Coach of the Year returns to his roots as a player, where he represented Bay of Plenty.
Clarke has been with the Black Ferns for seven years as an assistant coach and has close ties to Manawatu where he coached the Turbos and the Men’s and Women’s Seven teams.
Baxter led Canterbury to FPC success in 2020; the team was undefeated while at the helm. The Christchurch-based coach has also been involved with several other Canterbury representative teams in recent years. The South Island team will unveil a unique name and identity, representative of the region, in the coming weeks.
In naming Super Rugby Aupiki, NZR’s Maori cultural advisor Luke Crawford linked this to tales of Tane’s rise to the highest skies to retrieve the Three Baskets of Knowledge.
The baskets contained all the knowledge and understanding necessary to reach the highest heights of success.
Taken from a karakia which recounts Tane’s journey, the following whakaaro has been named “Te āupikitanga / tūpikitanga ki Te Toi-ō-ngā-rangi. – The ascent to the highest realm ”.
Aupiki was chosen as a term to reflect the journey of players striving for higher honors, which is the goal of this competition.