Following the success of the Rugby World Cup, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has contracted 105 players across the Blues, Chiefs Manawa, Hurricanes Poua, and Matatū for the 2023 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season.
Among the teams, crowds will see a wealth of new talent take the field with 28 rookies* earning their place in one of the four Super Rugby Aupiki squads for the first time.
Alongside an injection of new faces, 26 Rugby World Cup Black Ferns have been named, and a further 26 players who have previously donned the black jersey.
There will be four sets of sisters in action, Ruahei Demant and Kiritapu Demant (Blues), Chelsea Bremner and Alana Bremner (Chiefs Manawa and Matatū), Carla Hohepa and Chyna Hohepa (Chiefs Manawa), Martha Mataele and Atlanta Lolohea (Matatū).
As well as exciting talent on the field, the Blues recently confirmed 3-time Rugby World Cup winner Linda Itunu on their coaching staff. Matatū announced yesterday, Black Ferns assistant coach Whitney Hansen will return as Matatū’s assistant coach following her Rugby World Cup success.
NZR General Manager Professional Rugby and Performance Chris Lendrum said New Zealanders can be excited to see more top-quality women’s rugby on our shores.
“It is great to see such an abundance of talent captured within the four Sky Super Rugby Aupiki squads, and what is more fans, don’t have to wait long to see these players in action.”
“Sky Super Rugby Aupiki is fast, open and sensational rugby. We are thrilled fans and players alike get to enjoy such a competitive and captivating competition so soon after such a compelling Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.”
Sky Super Rugby Aupiki will embrace crowds and fans as the excitement for supporting women’s rugby is at an all-time high.
“The Rugby World Cup enhanced Aotearoa’s passion for women’s rugby and Sky Super Rugby Aupiki is the chance for fans to continue that support, embrace the atmosphere at matches and back their favorite players and teams like they did with the Black Ferns.”
“Ruahei Demant (Blues), Kennedy Simon (Chiefs Manawa), Ayesha Leti-I’iga (Hurricanes Poua) and Renee Holmes (Matatū) have all become household names, now it’s an opportunity to see these wāhine, alongside, exciting young talent who will be the future of the Black Ferns. I look forward to watching fans, new and old, get behind their teams and this competition,” said Lendrum.
The Blues, boast the largest amount of growth with 12 rookies. Their rookies will feature, Kiwi Fern, Katelyn Vahaakolo who will make the switch to Union, following her success at the Rugby League World Cup. Northland’s Tara Turner, at just 18 years of age has impressed in age group rugby and is a prodigy from the Tania Dalton Foundation.
Black Ferns Captain and World Rugby Player of the Year, Ruahei Demant will be joined by sister Kiritapu Demant, who will be hoping to make her Super Rugby Aupiki debut in 2023 for the Blues.
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year nominee and Black Ferns Rugby World Cup winning lock Maiakawanakaulani Roos will provide experience alongside fellow Black Fern, loose forward Charmaine McMenamin.
Forwards: Alakoka Po’oi, Charmaine McMenamin, Cheyenne Tuli-Fale, Chryss Viliko, Dajian Brown, Eloise Blackwell, Grace Gago, Joanna Fanene Lolo, Letelemalanuola Lavea, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Maama Vaipulu, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Sophie Fisher, Shannon Leota , Tafito Lafaele,
Backs: Ariana Bayler, Holly Williams, Jaymie Kolose, Katelyn Vaha’akolo, Kiritapu Demant, Krysten Cottrell, Melanie Puckett, Patricia Maliepo, Ruahei Demant, Logo I Pulotu Lemapu Atai’i (Sylvia) Brunt, Tara Turner
Key Gains: Ariana Bayler (Chiefs Manawa), Katelyn Vahaakolo (League), Kiritapu Demant.
On the move: Aroha Savage (Hurricanes Poua), Charmaine Smith (Chiefs Manawa), Cristo Tofa, Krystal Murray (Hurricanes Poua), Theresa Fitzpatrick (Sevens)
Tickets and Memberships: https://am.ticketmaster.com/bluesclub/ism/MjNCTA==
Defending Sky Super Rugby Aupiki champions, Chiefs Manawa have largely retained a wealth of experience from their 2022 campaign. The squad features nine Rugby World Cup winning Black Ferns.
Black Ferns lock Chelsea Bremner has made the move north from Matatū. Bremner will be joined by notable rookie prop Te Urupounamu McGarvey, after impressing for Bay of Plenty during the Farah Palmer Cup.
Incomingformer Hurricanes Poua back, Amanda Rasch join Super Rugby Aupiki rookie, former Black Ferns Development Sevens and New Zealand Touch Rugby international, Counties Manukau’s first-five eight Mererangi Paul.
Forwards: Angel Mulu, Awhina Tangen-Wainohu, Charmaine Smith, Chelsea Bremner, Chyna Hohepa, Dhys Faleafaga, Grace Houpapa-Barrett, Kelsie Wills, Kennedy Simon, Luka Connor, Pia Tapsell, Santo Taumata, Tanya Kalounivale, Te Urupounamu McGarvey, Tynealle Fitzgerald, Victoria Makea
Backs: Amanda Rasch, Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Azalleyah Maaka, Carla Hohepa, Chelsea Semple, Georgia Daals, Hazel Tubic, Langi Veainu, Merania Paraone, Mererangi Paul, Renee Wickliffe, Violet Hapi-Wise
Key Gains: Amanda Rasch (Hurricanes Poua), Chelsea Bremner (Matatū), Charmaine Smith (Blues), Dhys Faleafaga
On the move: Ariana Bayler (Blues), Kelly Brazier (Sevens), Les Elder (Retired), Maia Joseph (Injured), Portia Woodman (Sevens), Rugby Tui (TBC), Stacey Fluhler (Sevens),
Tickets and Memberships: https://www.chiefs.co.nz/membership-packages
Hurricanes Poua presents plenty of fire power and experience across their squad. 16 players return for Hurricanes Poua for the 2023 season. Rugby World Cup winning Black Ferns lock Joanah Ngan-Woo this season will be joined by Black Ferns teammate Krystal Murray. Complementing a strong forward pack, is the inclusion of 2017 Rugby World Cup winning Black Fern Aroha Savage.
The Black Ferns electrifying winger Ayesha Leti-I’iga returns for Hurricanes Poua after a successful Rugby World Cup campaign. Isabella Waterman makes the move north from Matatū to bolster the sides backline.
Forwards: Aroha Savage, Cilia-Marie Po’e-Tofaeono, Cristo Tofa, Jackie Patea-Fereti, Joanah Ngan-Woo, Kahurangi Sturmey, Kaipo Olsen-Baker, Krystal Murray, Layla Sae, Leilani Perese, Maddie Feaunati, Rhiarna Ferris, Rachel Rakatau , Saphire Abraham, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate.
Backs: Ayesha Leti-I’iga, Bernadette Robertson, Carys Dallinger, Crystal Mayes, Iritana Hohaia, Isabella Waterman, Milly Mackey, Monica Tagoai, Teilah Ferguson, Victoria Subritzky-Nafatali.
Key Gains: Aroha Savage (Blues), Cilia-Marie Po’e-Tofaeono (Blues), Cristo Tofa (Blues), Isabella Waterman (Matatū), Krystal Murray (Blues)
On the move: Amanda Rasch (Chiefs), Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Matatū)).
Tickets and Memberships: https://www.hurricanes.co.nz/membership/packages/
Matatū’s forward pack will be a force in Super Rugby Aupiki this year. Featuring the Black Ferns Rugby World Cup powerful front row trio of Phillipa Love, Amy Rule and Georgia Ponsonby. Black Ferns teammates Kendra Reynolds and Natalie Delamere will also be an influential force within the Matatū forward pack.
Georgia Cormick joins Matatū following a strong Farah Palmer Cup season with Otago. Cormick is no stranger to Super Rugby having competed in the SuperW with the Melbourne Rebels.
Australian international Sera Naiqama crosses the ditch for her debut season with Matatū. Naiqama current Wallaroo and NSW Waratahs SuperW player, she has had a taste of New Zealand women’s rugby, after facing the Black Ferns in the Rugby World Cup opener.
Cheyenne Cunningham had a standout Farah Palmer Cup season for Otago. the 22-year-old has a promising future ahead of her and is a rookie to watch for the upcoming 2023 Sky Super Rugby Aupiki season.
Forwards: Alana Bremner, Amy Rule, Atlanta Lolohea, Cindy Nelles, Emma Dermody, Georgia Ponsonby, Kendra Reynolds, Leah Miles, Lucy Jenkins, Marcelle Parkes, Moomooga (Ona) Palu, Natalie Delamere, Phillipa Love, Sera Naiqama, Steph Te Ohaere Fox.
Backs: Amy Du Plessis, Charntay Poko, Chey Robins-Reti, Cheyenne Cunningham, Di Hiini, Georgia Cormick, Grace Brooker, Grace Steinmetz, Martha Mataele, Renee Holmes, Rosie Kelly, TeRauoriwa Gapper.
Key Gains: Atlanta Lolohea, Georgia Cormick, Charntay Poko, Sera Naiqama (SuperW), Cheyelle Robins-Reti (Hurricanes Poua), Cheyenne Cunningham, Cindy Nelles (Blues), Leah Miles.
On the move: Kendra Cocksedge (Retired), Chelsea Bremner (Chiefs Manawa), Isabelle Waterman (Hurricanes Poua), Kilistina Vea (parental leave), Liv McGoverne (Exeter Chiefs).
Tickets and Memberships: To be announced at a later date.
Sky Super Rugby Aupiki Rookies Breakdown:
Blues: 12 Rookies
Chiefs Manawa: 6 Rookies
Hurricanes Poua: 3 Rookies
Matatū: 7 Rookies
*Rookies donates first Sky Super Rugby Aupiki contract.
Saturday February 25: Hurricanes Poua v Chiefs Manawa, Levin.
4 teams: Blues, Chiefs Manawa, Hurricanes Poua and Matatū
6 regular season matches + 4 play-off matches
Season Length: 5 weeks
Total Matches: 10
Semi-Finals: 19 March, Final + 3rd/4th play-off: 25 March.
2023 Super Rugby Aupiki Draw click HERE.