‘Super Eight’ the future of Super Rugby?

Rugby Australia’s broadcasting package proposal includes a Super Eight playoff tournament involving the top two teams from the Sanzaar nations and Japan.

On Monday, Rugby Australia distributed documents to potential broadcasters detailing the content they will provide ideally until 2025.

Included in the broadcast package is a Super Eight tournament, which would be a four-week event involving the top two teams from the Australian, New Zealand and South African domestic competitions and, it is hoped, the top team from Japan’s Top League and South America’s domestic competition.

The ‘Super Eight’ would presumably take the form of European football’s Champions League, which includes the top football sides from across Europe.

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What precedes the ‘Super Eight’ appears to be a sticking point as Rugby Australia is still intent on involving all five their domestic Super Rugby teams in a trans-Tasman tournament with New Zealand, who last month asked Australia to submit an expression of interest for only two teams to join the Kiwis’ eight-team competition.

If that falls through, Australia seem content on continuing with their Super Rugby AU tournament as it has been included in the package as an alternative to the trans-Tasman tournament.

‘I think the situation, partly driven by Covid, partly driven by individual countries’ intentions has created somewhat difficult conversations around the Sanzaar table and Jurie Roux and South Africa has made his views known as has Gus Pichot from Argentina’s point of view,’ Rugby Australia chief executive Rob Clarke said.

‘We have very much included them in all of our discussions. We’re in no means cutting off our Sanzaar partners and we’ll be looking to do things jointly with them beyond the TRC wherever possible.

‘That said, we do need to have a competition that has integrity to it and has an ability to grow our game here in Australia and grow our fanbase and some of the options we’re looking at we believe will do just that.’

Clarke said the Super Eight series could be played in either a trans-Tasman competition or a fully Australian competition model.

‘If the trans-Tasman competition happens, it essentially fits into the window that we’ve slated around domestic pro rugby, so you’d still have super eight sitting at the back end.

‘We’d like to if at all possible have a Japanese team and a South American team involved in that. Whether it would be the top teams in the Top League in Japan and the winning team out of the South American league, we’d like to see if we could do that as well, to really start to just round out the Super Eight series.’

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Also included in the package is a ‘State of Union’ competition between New South Wales and Queensland, with players playing for their state of birth or where they played their club rugby.

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