The Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U) kicked off their new Super Nine Rugby Championship last Saturday at Apia Park.
The Championship replaces the old National Provincial Championship (NPC).
This is the S.R.U’s bid to exert enthusiasm and excitement into its domestic competitions with a commercial mindset to lift the level of rugby in Samoa.
The S.R.U. is also committed to raise the standard of rugby in Samoa, not only on the field but also the administration side of the game in all nine franchises.
Under the new format, instead of 18 provincial teams, two to three smaller unions are merged to create one stronger franchise team.
As a result there are six merged franchise teams with three stand-alone teams to make nine franchises that make up the Super 9 rugby championship.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also the Chairman of S.R.U, opened the tournament. He urged the players to give it their all.
Since the beginning of the professional era, Tuilaepa noted that many top tier nations have gone through many changes to improve their standing in rugby.
“The most important emphasis was put on their local competitions which have grown to become huge spectacles with a global audience,” he said.
The Union aims to do the same with the Super Nine.
The competition exists to ensure the best players on island are playing in a Competition for an extended period of time consistently at a higher standard.
“Quality instead of quantity,” he said. “This also removes all social rugby players’ participation.”
Further, the Union has ensured the competition is televised weekly to offer opportunities for sponsors of the tournament and each franchise to gain public exposure.
Tuilaepa added that the S.R.U. has endorsed a franchise Board to govern the business of the franchises and that only qualified coaches can coach.
“No Village/Provincial names for obvious reasons to erase unnecessary Village and Provincial rivalries by naming each franchise in commercially driven names.
“The S.R.U. has full ownership of the Event, preparing the operational and logistical side to high standards by incorporating practices from the Super 18 concept.
“Provide Franchises with backroom support to ensure smooth running of the daily affairs of the Franchises including proper financials are kept, Franchise registering as an incorporated society and securing potential sponsors for each Franchise.
“I trust you will find this proposal compelling and exciting in preparing for a new era in Samoa Rugby with the revamped Super 9 Rugby Tournament, and I wish all teams and officials an enjoyable and successful tournament.”