New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson has shot down speculation that Sanzaar would be disbanded in the event of a trans-Tasman competition taking place in 2021.
According to reports earlier this week, New Zealand’s draft review of the Vodacom Super Rugby model reportedly included recommendations for drastic change from 2021, which could exclude South Africa.
It’s fuelled further speculation that more South African teams could be set to head north to join an expanded PRO14 competition.
According to the reputable Stuff.co.nz website, part of New Zealand’s Aratipu review identified an eight-team model as the ‘optimal’ format for Super Rugby next year.
This could be played between New Zealand’s five franchises and three from Australia, or just two from Down Under and one from the Pacific Islands. But it remains to be seen whether Rugby Australia would buy in to that concept.
There is also no guarantee the NZ Rugby board will rubber-stamp the eight-team model, which is only set to be presented to board members next week before directors discuss it next Thursday.
Further speculation suggests the door has been left open to allow for possible games against the top South African and/or Japanese sides.
At the moment there are various options clearly being considered at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has brought various competitions under review.
However, Robinson reiterated this did not automatically mean New Zealand was turning its back on the Sanzaar partnership.
‘From our point of view Sanzaar remains a critical strategic partner, and we’re committed to the joint venture partnership,’ he said.
‘Like everyone, Covid has had a massive impact on rugby and there are ongoing discussions with Sanzaar about what that might look like in the future.
‘But we’re committed to Sanzaar and as recently as Tuesday we were reconfirming our commitment to that partnership.’
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