New Zealand Rugby has outlined plans to enter its five Vodacom Super Rugby sides into a new competition from 2021, which is set to exclude any South African sides.
In a statement released by NZ Rugby on Friday, chief executive Mark Robinson announced plans that would effectively see them cut their ties with Sanzaar as far as Super Rugby goes next year.
It will serve as a considerable shake-up to Super Rugby, with New Zealand eyeing an eight-to-10-team tournament, with a strong desire to include one side from the Pacific island. Expressions of interest are being sought from Australian Rugby.
However, there would be no space for either the South African franchises or Argentina’s Jaguares as NZ Rugby want to see all five of their Super Rugby teams take part.
This follows NZ Rugby’s three-month Aratipu review into both Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship.
‘Coming on the back of Covid-19 and its impact on future competitions, the NZR Board has committed to establishing a new professional team competition in 2021. We have also been heartened by the success of Super Rugby Aotearoa,’ Robinson said.
‘The focus is now on confirming the licenses for New Zealand’s five current Super Rugby clubs and that work is now underway. We have highly valued the partnership with these five clubs over the last 25 years of the competition and want that to continue.
‘We will be working with Rugby Australia to seek expressions of interest from their current Super clubs and other interested parties to join the competition and that work will begin in earnest. We are excited and interested to see what our Australian neighbours will bring to this competition.
‘There is a huge desire to have a Pasifika team involved which we think will be massive for the competition, popular with fans and is a priority for us,’ Robinson added.
‘As we know, our Pacific nations and Pasifika players in New Zealand have added so much to the rich history of rugby in Oceania and our game here in New Zealand. To have a team that would provide an additional pathway for Pasifika players to perform on the world stage would be hugely exciting.’
This could see SA Rugby’s plans to move their franchise rugby north accelerated. Rumours have suggested that the four South African Super Rugby teams could join an expanded Pro14 tournament as early as next year.
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