SANZAAR: Commercial value will drive SA's call
STATE OF THE GAME: The future of SANZAAR remains uncertain, even though ‘good faith’ negotiations are ongoing.
Jurie Roux, Chief Executive of South African Rugby, told a media briefing that they are looking at “each and every option available”.
Roux was addressing the South African media in an Internet-based briefing in which he gave a detailed account of the many developments in the game during the COVID-19-enforced lockdown.
One of the key issues was ongoing reports that South Africa was going to abandon their Southern Hemisphere partners in SANZAAR and take up options in the north – including an expanded Six Nations and the Pro14.
Roux was very calculated in his responses, but certainly did not shut the door on a SANZAAR split.
“I’m always amazed to read about things and then have to answer questions from my executive committee and general counsel,” Roux said, adding: “I will [also] have Rassie [Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby] asking me if we’re playing in the north.”
He admitted one of the options is a venture involving the Six Nations teams, but only if the Springboks are unable to play a Rugby Championship or travel somewhere else or have anybody come to SA.
“It won’t be a bad solution for us in terms of getting some game time and some commercial value,” Roux said.
“It would be interesting to play Japan again and, obviously, England.
“I reckon England desperately want to play us again, so it won’t be a bad solution but we are yet to have conversations about that.”
Roux also confirmed that they are busy with their “negotiations” about the future of SANZAAR.
(Continue reading below … )
“We are doing that in good faith as we always do,” the SA Rugby boss said, adding: “I expect a lot of questions about statements by the media and former players in the media in New Zealand and Australia.
“I am not too fazed about that,” he said of suggestions that New Zealand and Australia may even dump South Africa from the SANZAAR alliance.
“The only people I am interested in is the people sitting around the negotiation table with us and they have a completely different view from what the former and some current players have.”
He said the are several narratives that will have an influence on their decision.
“The biggest influence for next year would be if New Zealand and Australia do not open their borders to foreign travellers until April, May or June.
“That will have a fundamental impact on Super Rugby for that year.
“We are looking at all the different options.
“The previous options [for 2020] are obviously not workable anymore, given the circumstance around COVID-19 and travel.
“We are also looking at different Rugby Championship options.
“Those options will also be influenced by where the global calendar is.”
The prospect of more South African teams joining the Pro14 in Europe is also still on the table and they are “continuing” with negotiations – which has been ongoing for the last 18 months.
He said the expansion – more SA teams in Europe – has always been on the cards.
“What that would look like in a post-COVID-19 world I can’t tell you at the moment,” Roux said.
He added that every decision will be based on rugby (with a weight of about 40 percent) and commercial value (60 percent).
“We are looking at each and every option available.”
Asked about the reports that linked the Boks to an eight-team competition involving the current Six Nations countries – England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales and Italy – plus Japan, Roux was again guarded in his response.
“The very politically-correct answer is that we are committed to SANZAAR and we are negotiating in good faith,” Roux said.
“But the reality is that the current format of competition that we have is too tight commercially for everybody involved.
“The committee that looks after the structure of those competitions is hard at work. Once the rugby decision is made on what competition works best, we will look at the commercial side.”
He said there are currently three options on the table, without expanding what those options are.
“It is all about the commercial [value] at the moment and those commercial values are determined by logistical challenges.
“We have to come to an agreement that is a good rugby outcome with good commercial value that can function in a post-COVID-19 world.”