SA Rugby's commitment to SANZAAR waning?
SPOTLIGHT: SA Rugby’s commitment to its SANZAAR partners seems to be waning after the release of a new “joint venture agreement”.
Wednesday’s announcement revealed that South Africa Rugby, New Zealand Rugby, Rugby Australia and Union Argentina Rugby have all committed to the organisation (SANZAAR) through to the end of the current broadcasting cycle in 2025.
What was interesting was that there was no mention of SA Rugby’s commitment that they made towards the end of 2020.
Back then SA Rugby committed to the Rugby Championship until 2030 as part of a new 10-year plan.
There has been mounting speculation that SA Rugby would throw its lot in with the Six Nations in the not too distant future following the move of its four Super Rugby teams – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – to the United Rugby Championship in Europe.
Meanwhile, in an interview with stuff.co.nz, SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris said SA Rugby bosses told their SANZAAR partners that they were “exploring their options”.
“They [South Africa] did put us on notice they were exploring their options, that was well before Christmas,” Morris said.
“We debated whether we do an announcement around the extension of the joint venture [until 2025]. But it’s purely a document that allows us to operate the business structure that we have.
“We’ve got a number of international and local broadcast deals that are extended to 2025. There was never any cause for alarm that we were never go to meet those obligations.
“But, at the end of the day, it’s about getting the partners together to create a fit-for-purpose strategy.”
Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, it is planned that the 2022 Rugby Championship will be played in its entirety with a return to matches being played in all four countries.
Due to the pandemic, the match schedule over the last two years has been severely affected with no matches played in Argentina and only a handful of matches taking place in South Africa and New Zealand.
The full 2022 match schedule will be announced in due course.
SANZAAR Chairman Marcelo Rodriguez stated: “The pandemic has created a very unusual sporting environment over the last two years with match and commercial delivery severely affected.
“This has seen the member unions work very hard to keep rugby alive and present during COVID and at times this has not been easy.
“Indeed there has been much speculation about the future but it is now great that all members have committed through until the end of 2025 as a minimum.
“This means we can concentrate on ensuring The Rugby Championship remains as one of the best rugby tournaments on the world calendar.”