Super Rugby's future to be decided in March

Super Rugby's future to be decided in March

Sanzaar boss Andy Marinos has all but confirmed that changes will once again be made in the format of Super Rugby as poor crowd attendances, and viewership figures continue to fall. 




Marinos spoke to New Zealand Herald's Liam Napier on the future of the competition going forward and confirmed that a decision will be made by March 2019.




Returning to a round robin format is heavily favoured but discussions are on-going - specifically around whether the Sunwolves should be retained - and the final blueprint remains sketchy, wrote Napier.


Marinos projected confidence that New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina will map out an overdue path forward from 2021 at that meeting.


"I'd like us to be in that position," Marinos said. "We don't have the luxury of time on our side and if there are going to be any changes to the competition structure we need to know what that is going to look like because we've got to start some face-to-face engagement with our broadcasters during the course of 2019."



The financially constrained Fiji-led bid could not commit to demands for $NZD18 million ($US12m) per-season, and so the door remains closed.


"We've done feasibility studies around putting teams in North America and the Pacific Islands and we've seen the metrics aren't really stacking up for us at this point in time but that doesn't mean we won't look at taking our product into those markets in the form of regular season games or preseason friendlies."


On the Pacific Islands, Marinos makes it clear their continued exclusion comes down to one factor.


"The commercial model to underpin it is critically important and then you look at that on the other side from a high performance perspective where are you going to balance another team and are you going to get the Tongans, Samoans and Fijians all part of that ecosystem.


"Economically it just didn't make sense and Sanzaar at this point in time… the health of the national unions is not such that we can continue to strategically invest into new markets. Those other markets have to be able to pay for themselves and underpin the performance of their participating team."


"In retrospect we hadn't really gone too deeply when we moved into the Asian market. There wasn't the cohesion or coherent rugby structure underpinning what we were trying to achieve for Super Rugby.


"It's very much a work in progress. I'm actively involved in the Sunwolves and their structure. They've certainly improved from '16 to '17 and '18 in terms of their performance.


"We've got to look at it from a long-term perspective in how do we get there national team competing on a more frequent basis in a more competitive manner.


"Is having one team in Super Rugby the best vehicle or is it working with the Japan Rugby Union in adding to the Super Rugby team a proper professional domestic competition structure?


"This is all part of an on-going conversation we are having."



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