New Zealand Rugby’s (NZR) rising stars go head-to-head with the next generation of Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua U20s stars when the Bunnings Warehouse Super Rugby U20 tournament kicks off in Taupō next month.
The two Pasifika squads will join 162 emerging players from the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders and a New Zealand Barbarians selection for the third edition of the tournament from March 19-25 at Owen Delany Park in Taupō. All matches will be live and exclusive on Sky.
A new draw format will see the eight teams split into two pools for the opening round of matches with the Blues, Crusaders, Fijian Drua U20s and NZ Barbarians in Pool 1 and the Chiefs, Highlanders, Hurricanes and Moana Pasifika in Pool 2. There will be semi-finals and a final with all other teams playing off for placings.
NZR High Performance Player Development Manager Matt Sexton said:
“Expanding the tournament to eight teams and bringing in Moana Pasifika and the Fiji U20s will create a more competitive environment for these young players, while also exposing them to different styles of play. With the World Junior Championships in South Africa in June-July it’s also a valuable opportunity for coaches to monitor and mentor a large group of players who will aspire to be part of their national U20s programmes in 2023.
“Everyone involved is competitive, so the draw adds a little bit of edge to the week, but the focus is mainly on development for players, coaches, management and referees on and off the field. A large number of these players will progress through to Super Rugby Pacific and this week provides them with an immersive experience in a high-performance environment that’s proven to be invaluable since the tournament began in 2021.”
Moana Pasifika CEO Pelenato Sakalia said:
“Moana Pasifika is excited to participate in the Super Rugby U20 competition. Developing pathways for our Pasifika youth to pursue their dreams is very important for Moana Pasifika. We are grateful to NZ Rugby for the invitation to participate in 2023.”
Fijian Rugby’s High Performance Director and recently appointed national Head Coach Simon Raiwalui said:
“The invitation to be a part of the 2023 Bunnings Warehouse Super Rugby Under 20 Tournament is a massive boost not only for the Under 20s preparation heading into the Junior World Championship and it is a vital part of the players development and transition into the Super Rugby level of competition as a pathway into the Fijian Drua.”
All eight 27-strong Bunnings Warehouse Super Rugby U20s squads and coaching teams will be announced in coming weeks.
Melissa Haines, Country Manager, Bunnings NZ, said:
"We’re proud to be supporting the Bunnings Warehouse Super Rugby U20 competition and look forward to cheering on the teams representing their clubs from across Aotearoa and the Pacific. We're passionate about supporting the growth of rugby in our communities and we're excited to see the impact this tournament will have on the development of the sport.”
Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas is delighted the event is being held at Owen Delany Park.
“We’re excited to welcome these fantastic up and coming rugby players to the Taupō District. These young men are the next generation of Super Rugby. We are set to witness a high-quality, exciting week of rugby. It’s a great opportunity for development, not just for the players, but team management and referees as well. We look forward to supporting the action on the field.”
The 2023 Bunnings Warehouse Super Rugby U20 tournament draw is:
MATCH DAY 1 - Sunday, 19 March
11:05am – Fijian Drua v Blues
12.55pm – Hurricanes v Moana Pasifika
14.45pm – Crusaders v NZ Barbarians
16.35pm – Highlanders v Chiefs
MATCH DAY 2 – Wednesday, 22 March
11:05am – Loser M1 v Loser M3
12.55pm – Loser M2 v Loser M4
14.45pm – Winner M1 v Winner M3 – SF 1
16.35pm – Winner M2 v Winner M4 – SF 2
MATCH DAY 3 – Saturday, 25 March
11:05am – Loser M5 v Loser M6 – 7&8 Playoff
12.55pm – Winner M5 v Winner M6 – 5&6 Playoff
14.45pm – Loser M7 v Loser M8 – 3&4 Playoff
16.35pm – Winner M7 v Winner M8 - FINAL