SANZAR CEO Greg Peters has confirmed that a sixth South African franchise will be added to the Super Rugby format from 2016. The decision is a move to quell the controversy in South Africa that surrounds the exclusion of one of their teams every year.
Talks are still taking place over how exactly the new six-side format would work, but it has been confirmed that there will definitely be another South African team competing from 2016 onwards.
Peters said: “We are very keen on making sure that we retain Super Rugby as the Southern Hemisphere’s pre-eminent international provincial rugby competition. By doing that it has to be one competition. We have yet to determine the structure beneath that and the number of conferences involved but what I can assure you of though is that there will be six teams from South Africa.”
Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, said he welcomed the expansion as a positive for SA rugby: “We have got the six teams entrenched now, that is a given. All models will be built around six teams so we are very happy about getting that out of the way as it has always been a bone of contention.”
Roux continued: “That causes a number of other logistical issues and those are the things that we have to go through. We have to work a model that will work not only for us but also for our partners in this relationship.”
It could be part of a more radical re-structure, which it has been rumoured could include Argentinian and Japanese sides. However, Peters said no decision had been made on this element of the event.
“Argentina have expressed their aspirations to be part of it and they have played in the Rugby Championship so it would be logical for them to be included. There are certainly some elements in New Zealand that would like to see a sixth franchise in New Zealand. We should also explore moving into Asia. At the moment all of those things are sort of in the melting pot and we haven’t come to a final resolution on it yet.”