Marinos: Slim chance of SA returning to Super Rugby
SPOTLIGHT: The Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos admitted that any chance of South Africa returning to Super Rugby is slim to none.
The four South Africa franchises – Bulls, Lions, Stormers and Sharks – withdrew from the Super Rugby competition in 2020 after developments of a Trans-Tasman competition between Australia and New Zealand came to light.
As ongoing reports and plans of the trans-Tasman were set in motion, South African teams opted to join the extended ‘PRO’ Rugby competition, which comprised of Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian clubs.
SA’s move north has certainly caused a divide in the SANZAAR alliance.
Speaking at Super Rugby AU’s major sponsor announcement, Marinos, who headed up SANZAAR at the time of SA Rugby’s withdrawal, revealed that he cannot see the relationship between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa repairing any time soon.
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“I don’t think [South Africa will return to Super Rugby] in the foreseeable future,” Marinos said.
“The decision that has been taken has certainly created a distance between the old, traditional rivalries.
“South Africa has gone off now and will be playing in the Pro16. That will also give us an opportunity to settle into a structure in the Australasian region. And see how that grows over time.
“You can’t discount the challenges in the old Super Rugby construct. The tyranny of distance, of flying to another geography and getting yourself up mentally and physically. That was really tough. Younger guys take time to adapt to that. Where we are now is really good for Super Rugby to reboot itself.”
Meanwhile, Marinos conceded that a Pasifika or Japanese team is likely to be included in the revamped Super Rugby look.
“That’s part of the agenda. We had [Japan’s] participation in the last iteration of Super Rugby and I think that really served Japanese rugby well,” Marinos said. “They’ve now upgraded their competition and have a more professional look and feel. We will certainly be engaging with them because I think there is a lot of value.
“It’s exactly the same with the Pacific Islands. The Drua came into the NRC over the last couple of years, they really played well. They won it one of those years.
“There is no question about their high-performance capability. It’s about making sure we can move between the different countries and get the right competition model that makes sense for fans and all of our commercial partners and players.”
Source: Sydney Morning Herald