Reports from New Zealand suggest Super Rugby is set to return to a 12-team tournament in 2022 with five teams each from New Zealand and Australia.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the relationship between New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia has improved to the point that a plan for the future of Super Rugby has been agreed.
The new conceptual plan will reportedly have New Zealand and Australia contribute five teams each to the tournament, with the other two teams coming from Pasifika Moana and Fiji.
NZR earlier this year announced that it was effectively breaking up Super Rugby as they opted to form their own tournament and invited Australian teams to tender expressions of interest.
However, the Australian teams refused, citing NZR’s actions as arrogant and unfounded, leading to tensions between the two unions.
NZR’s major concerns at the time were that Australian rugby did not have a broadcast deal from 2021 and whether they had the player depth to sustain five franchises.
The new plan for Super Rugby is, according to the report, still subject to wider travel restrictions as well as certain financial criteria being met, with certain teams proving their sustainability.
If the plan is to go ahead, it would certainly spell the end for South African teams in Super Rugby and pave the way for the franchises to enter an expanded PRO16.
SA Rugby had already confirmed in September the existing four Super Rugby franchises – the Sharks, Lions, Vodacom Bulls and Stormers – are in line to transition to an expanded PRO Rugby competition. This would come at the expense of the Cheetahs and Kings, who have both been involved in the PRO14 since its expansion from 12 teams in 2017.
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