Super Rugby

SA's Super Rugby future riddled with caveats

Sharks v Stormers (Gallo Images)
Sharks v Stormers (Gallo Images)

Sanzaar on Monday belatedly poured cold water over suggestions that Australia and New Zealand are urgently lobbying for the tournament's current format to be replaced by a "trans-Tasman" competition.

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Various weekend reports stated that such a move would naturally sideline South Africa and Argentina.

"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," Andy Marinos, the regional body's chief executive, said in a statement.

"Again where any changes to these competitions are required, as a consequence of any ongoing affects of the Covid-19 pandemic, these will be decided upon by the Sanzaar board."

He also confirmed that any alternative models, including the "trans-Tasman" format, have not been discussed between board members and remains "merely speculative" with "no basis to them".

It's a fairly well-known fact that should Super Rugby become splintered, it would also mean that Sanzaar itself would have to be dissolved as a narrowed-down tournament between the Australasian franchises which would severely impact the body's commercial viability.

South Africa in particular has for years been the powerhouse in terms of contributing monetary value to the regional marriage because of its favourable proximity to the European market.

However, Marinos ominously still concedes that nothing is cast in stone despite all stakeholders apparently being "committed until 2030".

"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."

For now, all regional partners will have to make do with domestic-based competitions based on their respective government regulations. 

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