Game ‘in flux’ as Su­per Rugby strug­gles over fu­ture op­tions

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport | Rugby Union - By Ben Coles The Daily Tele­graph

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.

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