Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos has outlined South Africa’s importance to the southern hemisphere alliance in terms of viewership and competitiveness.
Marinos was speaking to former Springbok and SA Rugby Legends CEO Stefan Terblanche as part of the Legends ‘An Hour on the Couch’ series.
New Zealand Rugby’s plans to enter its five Vodacom Super Rugby sides into a new competition from 2021 – which is set to exclude any South African sides and not involve Argentina’s Jaguares – has seemingly thrown the Sanzaar alliance into doubt.
Questions have been raised about what route South African rugby will take next year, with most speculation suggesting a likely move to join northern-hemisphere competition.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux this week outlined that New Zealand’s plans for a new competition from 2021 does not necessarily mean a disintegration of the Sanzaar partnership.
Marinos emphasised the importance of keeping South African rugby part of the southern hemisphere partnership, citing their value in terms of viewership and competitiveness.
‘Look, I think Jurie and the guys at SA Rugby would probably be best to answer how they manage the separation. I just know that from a value point of view, South Africa have always and continue to be the biggest contributor in terms of eyeballs and viewership and attendances to the Super Rugby and Rugby Championship games,’ Marinos said. ‘They have been for 25 years.
‘They have been a very powerful partner at the table, not only from a value point of view but also from a competitiveness point of view. If you speak to anybody that has any knowledge of rugby from Australia or New Zealand, having the Springboks coming over to play is critically important to the development of their players. There is a long history – more so with New Zealand than Australia – between the two countries.
‘This game is built on a whole lot of values that we always espouse and say are so unique to our game. The values that we have seen in our game around the pride, respect and tribalism of the traditions that we have got, those still resonate strongly within the markets over here. South Africa is a critical part of that. It is also a critical part of the country’s high-performance pathways, to keeping dominant international teams, that they have that competition.
‘At the same time, we have to appreciate that we are living in a changing world. We have got to be adaptable. South Africa has had to have a look into playing teams in the Pro14. We know what the standard and quality is like over there, it is getting better. I don’t think it’s on a comparable level to Super Rugby, having played both.
‘There’s nothing saying that South Africa couldn’t have a foot in both hemispheres and get the best of both worlds. But from a Sanzaar perspective, it remains important that South Africa are part of the joint venture. It remains important that those rivalries and the cross-pollination of players between the continents continue. There is significant value both on and off the field with that.’
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