Super Rugby could be set to change once again. Find out how in this piece.

Super Rugby Could Change Once Again

It looks like Super Rugby could be set to change once again.

The number of teams has grown in recent years to as many as 18 with South Africa getting a sixth franchise and teams from Argentina and Japan joining too.

Last year however there was a contraction with the number of teams being cut to 15 as two South African teams and one Australian went onto the chopping block. The teams cut were the Southern Kings and Cheetahs who joined the Pro 12 to make it the Pro 14. The Western Force also lost their licence, though they now make up part of the proposed new Global Rapid Rugby competition set in the Asia-Pacific region.

It appears as if further changes could be made to Super Rugby with plans to contract it down further and a drastic change to the largely unpopular conference system is also in the pipeline.

Right now, despite the Rugby World Cup going to Japan in 2019, the Tokyo-based Sunwolves appear to be the team facing expulsiom which would take place from 2021 onwards.

SA Rugby are seeking to keep their four franchises, whilst Australia and New Zealand have also said they will keep the same amount of teams, which leaves the Jaguares and Sunwolves.

The Jaguares are unlikely to be cut however given that Argentina are fast becoming a staple of the Rugby Championship and they are a member of SANZAAR. Given their bottom of the table finish last year, the Sunwolves are the most likely to get cut.

In terms of the conference system, one of the proposed changes was to implement a variation of the all-play-all, or round-robin format.

However the one thing that holds this format back is the objective of keeping the current 22-week duration of the tournament. A full round-robin format in which every team plays each other home and away would not be possible as a result.

What is clear, is that these discussions will continue to be had, and there is no real solution in sight right now.

SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos said: “What we’ve got to realise is that Super Rugby was established originally in order to slip that one level below Test matches and the yield that it’s given is being able to deliver three and now four countries that are seriously competitive on the international stage and have dominated the World Cup since its formation.”

“That value can’t be underestimated as a breeding ground for international rugby, which does drive a fair portion of revenue in the game.

“The essence of the product is very strong and we still get the best players in the world playing in that comp. Our big challenge is to get the right mix together to use it as a platform to drive forward.”

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