New Zealand Rugby rejected outright the Australian Rugby Union's plan to form a new Super Rugby competition that excluded South Africa.
This was revealed by ARU chairman Cameron Clyne.
The New Zealand Herald reports that Super Rugby matches involving South African teams are unpopular in Australia, both in terms of crowds and TV viewers.
However, New Zealand Players' Association boss Rob Nichol said the experience that the South African teams provided to Kiwi players, both in terms of the style of play and travel, was invaluable to their development.
'The nature of rugby in New Zealand, whether it's for a franchise or an international team – the All Blacks, etc – is that you need to be able to travel and win, and Super Rugby presents a fantastic opportunity in that respect,' Nichol told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave.
'The players enjoy the challenge of having to go to Africa and perform and that's been historically the case since Super Rugby started. In addition, while our international players and All Blacks in particular have to do a lot of travel, and towards the end of the year that becomes quite a challenge … a vast majority of our players really look forward to getting on the road with their team.
'That combined with the history of our relationship with South Africa… means we're very keen to keep playing against South Africa.'
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images