SA justified in going north
SPOTLIGHT: The impending move of South Africa’s four main franchises to the Northern Hemisphere seems to be justified after NZ Rugby confirmed their tournament plans for the next two years.
On Thursday, NZ Rugby chairman Brent Impey confirmed that Super Rugby Aotearoa in its existing form will return in 2021. There is also hope that there will be a “crossover” competition with Australia after that.
It means there will be no introduction of a Pasifika team in 2021, but there are plans to do so in an expanded competition in 2022.
The one difference to Super Rugby Aotearoa next year is the introduction of finals after the round-robin phase.
“Super Rugby Aotearoa will be back,” said Impey on a zoom call with reporters in New Zealand.
“After the success of the 2020 competition, it became really a no-brainer that we do something similar again in 2021.
“Yesterday [Wednesday] there was a board resolution to have a five-team Super Rugby competition, subject to ongoing dialogue with the Players Association, SANZAAR, Sky and others. We’re not quite ready to make an official announcement but will be doing that in coming days.”
Impey added: “We will continue with afternoon kick-offs and will continue if we can to put our fans first as we look to add further innovations.
“We also want to continue with Australia in a crossover competition of some kind once Rugby Australia 2021 has been completed.”
From 2022, Impey said NZ Rugby are looking to add a “minimum” of three teams to its competition with at least one of those teams being a Pasifika side.
“There has been a lot of speculation around our keenness to include a Pasifika team in Super Rugby, and we’re still committed to getting that across the line at some point. But the board believes we must get this right,” said Impey.
“Yesterday [Wednesday] the NZR board short-listed four preferred [candidates] for 2022 and beyond, subject to those caveats mentioned previously. We hope to announce them shortly, but some are subject to commercial confidentiality at this point.
“The board is committed to approving a minimum of three teams from the shortlist, with that decision to be made on November 30.”
Earlier this week SA Rugby confirmed that they are exploring entering four teams into an expanded PRO Rugby competition in the north as well as retaining a place in a revised SANZAAR competition.
The four teams voted to potentially make the transition were the existing Super Rugby franchises – the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and the Stormers.