Su­per Rugby chop un­de­cided

Many fac­tors will de­cide which teams get left out of the com­pe­ti­tion in fu­ture, sport ex­ec­u­tives say

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sport@city­press.co.za

The de­ci­sion re­gard­ing which South African Su­per Rugby teams will lose their place in fu­ture com­pe­ti­tion is not as fi­nal as has been re­ported. In Lon­don a few weeks ago, PwC pre­sented its rec­om­men­da­tions to Su­per Rugby gov­ern­ing body San­zaar, which en­com­passes South Africa, New Zealand, Aus­tralia and Ar­gentina. Since then, spec­u­la­tion has been rife that three teams – two of them South African and one of them Aus­tralian – would fall out of the Su­per Rugby com­pe­ti­tion from next year in an at­tempt to blow new life into the dy­ing rugby brand.

But SA Rugby pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der said a lot of wa­ter still had to flow un­der the bridge for a fi­nal call to be made on the is­sue.

Alexan­der said the re­gions and the broad­cast­ers were still dis­cussing PwC’s rec­om­men­da­tions for a San­zaar meet­ing to be held in Ja­pan on May 11 and 12.

“Ev­ery­one must agree be­fore we come to a con­clu­sion,” he said.

“All the re­gions and all the broad­cast­ers have to agree on the pro­posed changes that PwC rec­om­mended.

“It’s not easy be­cause we’re deal­ing with broad­cast­ers from all around the world,” he said.

“It’s not just four broad­cast­ers, like many peo­ple think – it’s prob­a­bly 12 or 13, as the rights are sold on to other broad­cast­ers, be­cause Su­per Rugby is shown in other ter­ri­to­ries. The only time we’ll de­cide is when all the stake­hold­ers have been con­sulted.”

Alexan­der said that, once it gets word af­ter the San­zaar meet­ing in May, SA Rugby would take the de­ci­sion to its ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil, which, in turn, would make a call and then leave the de­ci­sion to its gen­eral coun­cil to vote on.

“So we’re just wait­ing for the feed­back. Ev­ery­thing that has been said is spec­u­la­tion un­til we get an an­swer. This is a tricky process be­cause we sold peo­ple a prod­uct, and now we’re sell­ing them a dif­fer­ent prod­uct, de­spite the fact that they still have a con­tract with us.”

Alexan­der said PwC’s re­search on Su­per Rugby teams was based on re­sults, view­er­ship, fan at­ten­dance at matches, their size of the mar­ket and mar­ketabil­ity.

“The key is hav­ing sus­tain­abil­ity. We need to know that the fran­chises [teams] have the re­sources to de­liver a com­pet­i­tive team. Based on those things, we’ll de­cide which teams miss out,” he said.

Asked if it was true that two South African teams (with ev­ery­one’s favourites for the chop be­ing the Kings and the Chee­tahs) would miss out, Alexan­der said it would be “two or one”.

The teams that get ex­cluded could be sur­pris­ing, as ru­mours com­ing out of Aus­tralia show. Based on per­for­mance, Western Force and the Mel­bourne Rebels look good for the chop. But if the de­ci­sion is based on fi­nances, the Brumbies – who have won the tour­na­ment twice – could fall.

This is be­cause they are based in Can­berra, which, de­spite be­ing the cap­i­tal of Aus­tralia, isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a fi­nan­cial hub.

Tak­ing that into con­sid­er­a­tion in re­gard to South Africa, the Kings (trans­for­ma­tion im­per­a­tives aside) could well find them­selves in a more favourable po­si­tion thanks to the area they rep­re­sent.

PHOTO: STEVE HAAG / GALLO IMAGES

DICEY Tera Mtembu of the Sharks tack­les Ber­ton Klaasen of the South­ern Kings dur­ing their Su­per Rugby match at Kings Park Sta­dium in Dur­ban last week

PHOTO: ASH­LEY VLOTMAN / GALLO IMAGES

BOSS SA Rugby pres­i­dent Mark Alexan­der

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