Aussie only comp for 2021
A second incarnation of all-Australian Super Rugby competition in 2021 is now more likely after the South African Rugby Union confirmed it’s five franchises would quit and join Europe‘s PRO14 competition.
The South African’s left with an almighty swipe for their New Zealand counterparts too claiming exclusion from plans for the Kiwi’s own 2021 domestic competition was one of the reasons for the permanent departure.
In confirming the news, SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said the nation would never have explored their European options were it not for the actions of New Zealand.
“Our members are excited about the prospect of closer alignment with PRO Rugby Championship and seeking a northern hemisphere future, but we would not have been taking this decision but for actions elsewhere,” Roux said.
The exit may not be so simple however. The South Africans signed a five-year broadcast to be part of the Super Rugby competition, as did New Zealand Rugby.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson attempted to play down the move, which follows months of turmoil triggered by the coronavirus crisis, saying it was “no surprise”.
“SARU (South Africa Rugby Union) has signalled for some time now they were looking at aligning with the northern hemisphere season,” Robinson said in a statement.
“All of the SANZAAR partners had agreed to look at more domestically related competitions in 2020 and 2021. During times like these change is inevitable and we need to be willing to adapt quickly.”
UPDATE | @NZRugby has acknowledged the South African Rugby Union's statement to explore entering their existing Super Rugby teams in the PRO Rugby competition in Europe.https://t.co/U372o6om5k
Only Rugby Australia didn’t have a TV deal locked in for 2021, and despite the potential for a COVID-19 travel bubble between the trans-Tasman nations, it’s unlikely a joint competition will be established.
The move from the SARU won’t immediately impact the Rugby Championship, but that could change.
SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said they faced a “financial meltdown” if they didn’t make the move to Europe.
“These are extraordinary times, if this had been an ordinary year, we would not have had this meeting,” he said.
“But we needed to take radical steps to avoid financial meltdown because of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Relations between long-time rugby friends Australia, New Zealand and South Africa continued to be strained.
On New Zealand TV on Tuesday night, Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan called for the Kiwis to show them “respect” following a back-and-forth over dates for the Rugby Championship.
“I think the fundamental issue from us is that you‘ve got to respect our position,” McLennan told The Breakdown.
“We know we haven‘t been as good as we should have been and there are some systemic issues that we’re dealing with within Australian rugby from grassroots right through to our high performance area, but if you look at the combined history of both countries on and off the field we’re very close partners, brothers and sisters, so I would say respect what we have to do.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
“Over the long-term, if we can afford to get five teams into a 10 or 12 team (trans-Tasman) competition we will deliver for you guys, but it just takes time…
“I‘m faced with the decision of cutting two or three teams out of our competition and we took great offence to the way that was handled and the way we were instructed how the competition was going to come together, and I don’t think that was either fair or the right way to handle it.
“But we’ve got to get focused on building a new competition for next year and beyond.”
The Wallabies are currently in camp in Christchurch ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup showdown with the All Blacks on October 11.
Originally published asAussie only comp for 2021 more likely
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