Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos says it is critical for the well-being of all four member nations that the Rugby Championship goes ahead in some form in 2020.
Marinos was speaking to former Springbok and SA Rugby Legends CEO Stefan Terblanche as part of the Legends ‘An Hour on the Couch’ series.
On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the Springboks will be able to defend their crown as southern-hemisphere champions after World Rugby approved the hosting of the competition in full in a single country over a reduced six-week period.
The Rugby Championship now looks set to take place at the end of the year after a temporary international window between 24 October and 5 December was recommended.
SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux this week revealed that New Zealand were the favourites to host the tournament in a bio-bubble.
While there has been some pushback from the Premiership in particular – due to concerns over releasing their international players – Marinos said it is imperative that the Rugby Championship takes place.
‘I would go as far to say that it’s pretty critical to the ongoing sustainability,’ Marinos said. ‘We have got great support from our broadcasters, a lot of them have stood by us. When we have had a situation like with Super Rugby, where we have had to cancel those competitions, we can’t expect to be paid money for a product that we can’t deliver. There have been impacts on that side, by not being able to deliver the July [Test] window.
‘That’s why it’s all hands on deck and everybody has been proactive in seeking a solution for us to get the TRC up and running. So that we can not only give our fans and the game a much-needed boost by having live traditional rivalries back on the field, but also enabling the broadcasters to generate revenue to continue to sustain them through the third and fourth quarters of 2020.
‘It’s still in the planning process. That’s the new narrative for all of us now. We can only really understand for absolute certainty probably a day ahead of us. That’s certainly where we are going. There are other permutations, as covered in the media, about getting players released out of the European leagues. That is very important when you look at South Africa and Argentina, who have a fair sprinkling of good players in those competitions.’
If the Rugby Championship does take place between November and December, it will be important that both South Africa and Argentina play some form of domestic rugby.
Both New Zealand and Australia have had domestic tournaments with their Super Rugby teams playing for the last month or so, meaning that they will go into the Championship with an advantage.
‘Probably most important is how much rugby the Springboks and Pumas can have leading into the Championship, ‘ Marinos said. ‘That way they can at least have a good five or six weeks of rugby under their belt and are match ready to go and play international rugby, understanding that the Kiwis and Aussies have had close to 10 to 12 weeks of rugby before the Rugby Championship does come around.
‘You are going to be based away from home for six to eight weeks. It is a tough schedule. By no means is it an equal playing field,’ Marinos added. ‘At the same time, that is one of the fantastic things we have seen from this Springbok side over the years. They have a real deep, steely resolve.’
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