New Zealand-based rugby writer MARK REASON says the potential move by SA Rugby to join European club competitions would ruin New Zealand Rugby financially.
Several reports have suggested that the South African sides could withdraw from Super Rugby when the current Sanzaar deal expires to play in Europe, although this has been refuted by Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos.
In his column, Reason argues that the reports are ‘full of substance and make absolutely terrifying reading’ for New Zealand Rugby.
‘If South Africa do decide to leave but for a skeleton team or two in Super Rugby, then the competition’s revenue streams will plummet. Such a fall would be enough to bankrupt NZR by 2023. At their current rate of spending, New Zealand Rugby need a significant rise in income from their next Super Rugby television contract just to break even.’
‘Steve Tew said in March, “Post 2020, we’ve got a deficit projected which we can’t live with. That means we either change the expenditure model or find ways to generate more money. We have to diversify revenue streams but also work very hard to ensure the next broadcast negotiations are fruitful.”
‘But if South Africa decamp to Europe, the next broadcast deal will rot away in the sun of wishful thinking. There will not be anything like enough decent fruit to feed New Zealand and Australia.
‘And why wouldn’t South Africa go to Europe? Here are all the points in favour of a move. The compatible time zones mean that the away games will all be on TV at prime times. The flight time from Johannesburg to London is five hours shorter than it is to Auckland.
‘The combination of the Pro14 competition and the European Cup are commercially way more valuable than Super Rugby can ever hope to be. It is the economics of population size.
‘And of course, half of South Africa’s top players are already playing in Europe. But in favour of Super Rugby there is, er, taking suggestions from the back – the high standard of New Zealand teams raising standards, you say.
‘South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux pointed out late last year that South Africa had 373 players playing in European club competitions in the 2016-17 season. It has reached the literal point of, if you can’t beat them, join them. Roux even posited two national teams, one of European-based players for the November international window, one of South African-based players for the June window and Rugby Championship. So I am not sure why Andy Marinos does not think that South Africa is considering jumping ship.
‘NZR is terrified of what South Africa might do. Their fiercest rivals have the option of bankrupting them.’
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