Sanzaar says a report claiming that three more South African teams are set to withdraw from Super Rugby to play in Europe is ‘simply wrong’.
According to Wales Online, the Sharks will join the Pro14 for the 2019-20 season, while the Lions and Stormers will head north by at least the start of the 2020-21 season.
In a statement on Monday, Sanzaar said it was in the middle of a detailed strategic review to determine the future of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship that is being driven by the governing body’s executive committee and the member unions: Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
‘Sanzaar is currently engaged in a detailed strategic planning process that has the ultimate and very important aim of producing a roadmap for the competitions’ future formats up to and including 2030, and in the shorter term the delivery to market of competitions for the next iteration of Sanzaar’s broadcasting rights,’ said Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos.
‘As part of this process, the member unions have fully committed to the strategy and their future participation. Any talk of a change to the stakeholder relationship and partners withdrawing, creation of new teams in new markets and trans-Tasman competitions is unsubstantiated speculation and simply wrong.
‘This 12-year strategy is designed to address the challenges facing our game and to clearly articulate Sanzaar’s vision and purpose in terms of a sustainable future. The desired outcome is the delivery of competitive, innovative, engaging and financially sustainable competitions to ensure the continued success of the member unions and the Super Rugby clubs/franchises.
‘Everything has been on the table – status quo, expansion, contraction, competition formats, etc – as part of our initial blue-sky thinking. We basically started with a blank piece of paper and now we are doing the detailed analysis on what is viable, sustainable and best for our competitions.
‘There is an incredible amount of detailed work taking place in this review and we have specialist groups working across all aspects of the review. Therefore it is very disappointing that various aspects of the initial work in terms of potential tournament formats been taken out of context and aired in public.
‘Potential expansion into new market, for example, should not be confused with only an increase in teams. We are already in the process of taking the established product to new markets. Matches being played in Singapore, Hong Kong, Fiji and Samoa are examples of this.
‘We are especially mindful at present that we have just come out of a process that has seen a contraction of Super Rugby. The introduction of new teams or any form of expansion would need to meet a defined set of criteria that have been established.’
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