SA to exit Super Rugby in 2016?

Date published: July 28 2013

SANZAR are currently considering a proposal around the future format of Super Rugby which could see South Africa leave the competition.

SANZAR are currently considering a number of proposals regarding the future format of Super Rugby, one of which could see South Africa leave the competition.

According to reports in all three SANZAR member nations, Australia and New Zealand may form a trans-Tasman rugby tournament to replace Super Rugby from 2016 with South Africa being joined by Argentinean or possibly European teams in a separate competition. The Australasian tournament would likely also include Asian teams.

SARU's insistence on having six teams involved future in Super Rugby competitions is at the source of the need for change as such an expansion will render the current conference system unworkable.

SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters has confirmed that negotiations are underway with regards to the structure of southern hemisphere competitions beyond the next broadcasting deal, which will come into effect in 2016.

Peters has however moved to calm speculation, saying SANZAR are still “some way off” making a decision but that the possibility of a split remains a reality.

“The challenge is with a limited number of weeks in the year, how do you create a competition that has integrity in its structure, keeps everyone involved and satisfies the needs of the three main countries,” Peters told Fairfax.

Peters confirmed that SANZAR are working on “a number of future scenarios”.

“The end result will as always involve working together to achieve a result that strikes a balance between the various imperatives of the three [SANZAR] unions,” he told Rugby 365.

“This is against a range of principles agreed by all three SANZAR Unions, including a fundamental one of South Africa having six teams in the future structure.

“Player welfare is also a significant consideration.”

The Australian and New Zealand unions are reportedly in favour of the South African proposal of a split as they believe a trans-Tasman competition will produce more derbies that develop increased gate-takings, more fan engagement in the domestic markets, easier broadcast timezone considerations, and less travel for players.

SANZAR are believed to be eager to have agreement by the end of this year to give all parties enough time to plan under the new framework.

The proposal, which will not affect The Rugby Championship, is one of three options on the table: the alternatives feature retention of the three-conference system, and expanding the competition further to Asia and the United States and Canada. All parties are believed to favour a solution that includes South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.