NZR: SA Rugby’s northern move ‘no surprise’

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has acknowledged SA Rugby’s intent to explore entering their existing Vodacom Super Rugby teams in the PRO Rugby competition in Europe.

On Tuesday, one of the worst-kept secrets in South African rugby was officially confirmed when it was revealed the existing Super Rugby franchises are in line to make the transition into an expanded PRO Rugby competition.

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A special general meeting of the South African Rugby Union (Saru) voted on Tuesday to explore entering four teams into the northern- hemisphere competition, while also retaining a place in a revised Sanzaar competition.

In a statement reacting to the news, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said South Africa’s position was no surprise.

‘Saru has signalled for some time now they were looking at aligning with the northern-hemisphere season,’ Robinson said. All of the Sanzaar partners had agreed to look at more domestically related competitions in 2020 and 2021. During times like these change is inevitable and we need to be willing to adapt quickly.’

During the general meeting, SA Rugby opted to continue conversations with Sanzaar about entering a team into a modified ‘Super Series’ format, on the proviso that a commercial model was developed to make their entry cost neutral at least, once agreement had been reached with Sanzaar.

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The meeting agreed that the Cheetahs would be proposed as the South African entry in such a competition.

‘We were thrilled with how Super Rugby Aotearoa was received this year and are excited about what is shaping up for 2021,’ Robinson said. ‘We’re also pleased to hear confirmation of South Africa’s ongoing commitment to remain a key partner in Sanzaar, which strongly aligns with NZR’s position.

‘We look forward to seeing the Springboks in action during the upcoming Rugby Championship in Australia.’

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Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

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