Rugby Australia has offered a coy response after New Zealand Rugby outlined plans for a new competition with their Vodacom Super Rugby teams from 2021.
In a statement released by NZ Rugby on Friday, chief executive Mark Robinson announced plans that 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.
This follows NZ Rugby’s three-month Aratipu review into both Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship.
RA chairperson Hamish McLennan has previously voiced his desire for all five of the current Super Rugby AU teams – including the Western Force – to be involved in a trans-Tasman tournament. However, the current numbers only leave room for between two and four Australian teams.
McLennan also recently described Rugby Australia’s relationship with NZ Rugby as ‘master-servant’ and threatened a complete Australian breakaway if the two organisations could not agree terms.
On Friday, Rugby Australia released a statement where they gave very little indication as to whether they favoured NZ Rugby’s proposed model.
‘Rugby Australia acknowledges New Zealand Rugby’s preferred position following their announcement today regarding a potential future provincial competition from 2021 and look forward to working constructively with New Zealand Rugby in the coming weeks,’ the statement read.
‘Rugby Australia will also continue its discussions with stakeholders in Australia and is in constant consultation with our valued Sanzaar joint venture partners.
‘Due to impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rugby Australia recognises that there is a need to review the sustainability and practicality of the current Super Rugby competition and consider alternative models that are in the best interests of Australian Rugby from 2021 and beyond.’
New Zealand Rugby said it hoped to complete the expression of interest process by the end of July.
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