SA teams could be forced to leave Super Rugby
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Reports on South Africa’s future in Super Rugby will not be ending anytime soon.
According to WalesOnline, South Africa’s four Super Rugby teams could be joining the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings in the Pro14 in the near future.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the five NZ Super Rugby franchises are undertaking a review of New Zealand’s Super Rugby model to ensure the future success for teams and the competition on and off the field.
It is believed this review could have a significant impact on South Africa’s future in the tournament.
Super Rugby has become increasingly unattractive for fans and broadcasters alike over the years with its expansion into other countries like Argentina and Japan.
Several big names in the game, which mostly consists of former players and coaches, have called for an overhaul of the tournament.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which halted this year’s tournament, could also be the catalyst for change in the Southern Hemisphere.
With the regular season up in the air, New Zealand formed their own domestic tournament called “Super Rugby Aotearoa”, which begins in June. Australia are also busy forming their own tournament involving their franchises.
There has been growing support for a Trans-Tasman competition in future years and if stakeholders get their way then South Africa and Argentina could be forced out of Super Rugby.
Travel restrictions have made it impossible for Super Rugby to be completed this year and this restriction could also have an impact on next year’s tournament.
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According to some in the know, a move north in the future will be a much more viable option for South Africa’s teams with its similar time zones. Travelling to the north will also be easier for South African teams and it will also be financially more beneficial for all involved.
The one stumbling block for New Zealand and Australia to get rid of South Africa is broadcasting deals.
“We have always been very interested in South Africa. We like them and see them as a key part of our future,” said PRO14 chief executive Martin Anayi said.
“The tournament works well at the moment but could work better if you could add teams to it. So that’s one avenue potentially.”
Meanwhile, Stormers head coach John Dobson feels that change is coming.
“I’ve got a horrible feeling this cacophony is going to have some sway,” said Dobson.