Super Rugby chop undecided
Many factors will decide which teams get left out of the competition in future, sport executives say
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.
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
BOSS SA Rugby president Mark Alexander