Game ‘in flux’ as Super Rugby struggles over future options
Covid-19 will cause the rugby landscape to change significantly, said South Africa’s top official, who confirmed the country would not face Scotland and Georgia this summer as planned.
Jurie Roux, the South Africa Rugby chief executive, admitted the whole sport was now “in a state of flux”.
Roux also said quarantine restrictions in New Zealand and Australia – which are set to remain in place until next May – requiring visiting teams to remain in isolation for two weeks without playing any matches, would make Super Rugby’s touring schedule untenable.
New Zealand Rugby announced its intention to run a potential trans-Tasman competition last week, but Roux dismissed the suggestion that this meant that Super Rugby was finished, adding that any move along those lines would require approval by Sanzaar’s entire executive committee.
Based on recent comments by NZR and Roux, Super Rugby in 2021 could consist of a domestic competition in the initial months of the year before moving to an international knockout format once restrictions are lifted, with Roux adding there are “different options on the table”.
Sanzaar’s contracts for Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship run until 2025.
“New Zealand has every right to determine its future, but in terms of Sanzaar’s joint venture agreement, there is a very legal agreement in place and you have to act within it. If you are in breach of that joint venture agreement, you make yourself liable for legal action from the other parties,” Roux added.
“To be fair to our New Zealand counterparts, they’ve consistently raised, at our meetings, the fact that given the travel restrictions in 2021, travel costs and the likelihood in the reduction of flights to New Zealand, there was every indication that neither South Africa nor Argentina [teams] would be able to enter New Zealand possibly up until the end of May outside of a quarantine process.
“New Zealand has opted to play a domestic competition first before a possible crossover competition within the old Super Rugby format. That format is still being discussed by Sanzaar and there are different options on the table.
“I see we are being deemed as having been kicked out of Super Rugby. If anything, New Zealand kicked themselves out of it.”
A source told last week that more South African sides playing in Europe was a possibility, with Roux admitting that SA Rugby was exploring other options away from Super Rugby.