The Waratahs will host the Brumbies at their new Allianz Stadium home in a blockbuster Australian season opener to the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.
And as the 2023 draw was unveiled, rugby bosses on both sides of the Tasman were breaking bread as an ongoing Australasian alliance firms for 2024 and beyond.
The defending champion Crusaders will host the Chiefs on February 24 to kick off 2023 before the Waratahs-Brumbies derby to complete a Friday night double header.
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All 12 teams will then converge on Melbourne for the return of ‘Super Round’ in the second week of the competition.
But while rugby fans can now start circling dates on their calendar (click here for the full draw), the biggest question in the game Down Under is what will happen long-term.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan told Wide World of Sports his threat to walk away from New Zealand and go domestic at club level remained live this month despite some productive trans-Tasman discussions.
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But in something of a good cop, bad cop routine, RA chief executive Andy Marinos told reporters that things were looking positive regarding a new deal.
“I don’t think it’s an elephant in the room,” Marinos said.
“It’s a complex conversation. We’re looking to secure a long-term future and partnership.
“We’re both committed to continue to grow rugby across the Asia-Pacific region, we’re speaking all the time, and we’re pretty confident we’re going to get to a resolution pretty soon… you can’t go into a negotiation without understanding both parties are going to have to compromise somewhere along the line.
“That’s just the nature of professional sport. As much as there is this intense rivalry on the field, it sometimes does transcend into the boardroom.
“We all want to do what’s best for our own backyard, but at the same time it’s making sure we elevate that and look at what’s best for the competition, the region, and how it’s going to help us remain strong and competitive as countries on the international stage.”
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