The All Blacks took a Test to Samoa in 2015 and now the Pacific Island will host its first Super Rugby clash, between the Reds and the Blues.
The June 2 Auckland home game will be taken to Apia, becoming the first match of its kind to head to Samoa.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for a handful of Reds players as well, with Samoan-born Henry Teafu and a handful of other players with Samoan heritage in their ranks.
The match will be the second of two Pacific Islands matches this year, with the Crusaders and Chiefs returning to Fiji on May 19, after the strong reception the fixture received in 2016.
Elite rugby’s presence in the islands will only grow from here, with Fiji set to field an NRC team this year, with speculation that could lead to a Super Rugby side in the long-term future.
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said the initiative was a nod at the contribution Pacific Nations have made to Super Rugby.
“SANZAAR is delighted that after the success of the Super Rugby match in Fiji last year we will see in 2017 a match in Apia thanks to the foresight of the Blues,” he said.
“Indeed we will have two matches in the Pacific Islands this year.
“We recognise that Samoa like the rest of the Pacific Islands is an important geographical part of the rugby landscape in the southern hemisphere and the rugby talent and the support for the game within the region is amazing.” - Andy Marinos
The match coincides with Samoa’s Independence celebrations, and Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi said that made it even more significant.
“We are absolutely honoured to see such an event held here in Samoa. This is a positive step for our country,” he said.
“We had the Manu Samoa and All Blacks in 2015 and now in 2017 we will host the Blues vs Reds. This will attract some great tourism and overseas activity, and it’s good to see such great support behind this match with our sponsors such as BlueSky. We hope in future to attract more select games to Samoa in our Rugby Union field.
“The game will also be held on our Independence weekend which carries great significance for our country. We will proudly watch on and cheer for both sides in celebration of our independence and our love of sport.”