DESPITE a number of reports originating almost solely out of Australia, Sanzaar has no plans to exclude South Africa and Argentina and go it alone with a Trans-Tasman competition.While a number of pundits in Australia have called for such a competition and there have been some calls to exclude South Africa and Argentina from future competitions, Sanzaar confirmed that while 2020 is a unique situation because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are no other changes being planned.Sanzaar called out the “misleading information and speculation” in a media statement.It also said that the four nations — South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina — that make up the Sanzaar alliance, had committed themselves to competitions until 2030.“Sanzaar would like to publicly correct the misleading information and speculation regarding suggestions in various media articles over the weekend about the future structure of Sanzaar and indeed tournament formats for Super Rugby,” reads the statement.“While it is acknowledged that the impact of Covid-19 has presently brought unprecedented change to the world of rugby as we have known it, any changes to the Super Rugby structure this year and into the future are matters that are currently being discussed in detail by all the joint-venture, national union stakeholders: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. “The stakeholders are all committed to the joint-venture through to 2030 and once consensus is agreed upon by all the stakeholders it will then be communicated by the Sanzaar Board.”DOMESTIC COMPETITION ONLY OPTION FOR 2020Sanzaar went on to say that with the Covid-19 pandemic influencing the current season, the only option would be a strong domestic tournament while travel was impossible. “With respect to 2020, it is likely that once the green light is given to commence the playing of rugby matches in the various stakeholder territories, that a revised Super Rugby competition format will be implemented. “In all likelihood, this will mean a strong domestic focus in each territory given the travel, border and government restrictions that we believe we will have to adhere to. Sanzaar will in due course make the appropriate announcements on the restart of rugby matches,” the statement continued.2021 FORMAT CHANGES ALREADYSOLD TO BROADCASTERSLooking ahead, Sanzaar said they had already sold a format of a 14-team competition to broadcasters.“As to the future competition structures in 2021 and beyond, Sanzaar has already sold to broadcasters a 14-team Super Rugby cross-border tournament format as well as the four-team Rugby Championship, within the stakeholder core markets. Again where any changes to these competitions is required, as a consequence of any ongoing affects of the Covid-19 pandemic, these will be decided upon by the Sanzaar board.”Sanzaar’s CEO Andy Marinos continued to pour cold water on the reports of any competition that would exclude any country currently in the alliance.“Having spoken with my Sanzaar Board members I can confirm that none of the suggested models or structures that have been commented on recently, such as stand-alone Trans-Tasman formats, have been agreed by any of the Sanzaar unions individually or collectively. All such reports are merely speculative and have no basis to them,” said Marinos.CONTINGENCY FORMATS BEING DISCUSSEDMarinos stressed all four unions will be involved in any contigency plans if the pandemic continues. “This is not to say that we are not having realistic discussions on what may have to eventuate should Covid-19 restrictions continue beyond 2020. “We are presently looking in detail at various competition formats but any agreed format will include teams from all four stakeholder national unions. “Due to uncertainty over what various government restrictions, if any, may look like next year including international travel, no date has been set yet as to when a decision will be made on 2021 and beyond. A major consideration is that we also have an obligation to discuss any contingencies with our broadcaster partners in the first instance after which we will make public comment.” — SuperSport.