Flawed format remains unchanged

Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos says there will be no changes to Super Rugby's conference format in 2017.

The 2016 campaign saw the introduction of a 18-team, four-conference system. The competition structure was widely criticised mainly because of the draw and certain teams hosting playoff matches despite other sides accumulating more log points during the round-robin phase.

'Looking at the overall structure, the competition is locked and loaded for next year,' Marinos confirmed. 'We are, however, looking at the anomalies to see how we best can correct it. I'm not saying we will get everything right, but at least we can have a good crack at addressing it.'

While several proposed structural changes were canned by the governing body, Marinos says nothing would be 'off the table' completely and that a different format could be implemented in 2018 or 2020 when the current TV contract expires.

'If the teams are all competing well, that does go a fair way towards managing people's expectations around the integrity of the competition. The big thrust is getting the competitiveness back to where it was.'

With questions increasing over Australia and South Africa's ability to maintain 11 teams between them, Marinos admitted it was a concern especially because of big money deals players receive abroad.

'There is no shying away from the fact that the money in the game in France and England is a significant threat. We've seen a mass exodus of players out of Africa and Australia and, if it continues the way it is, it could impact on the other markets.

'It's a reality that we have to deal with and looking at expansion and looking into new markets – a driver for that is to increase revenue and fund more in our core markets to enable us to retain the best players for as long as possible,' he concluded.

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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Mariette Adams