New Zealand want South Africa, Argentina out of Super Rugby


New Zealand has been playing a domestic version of Super Rugby in front of large crowds. AFP/DAVID ROWLAND

New Zealand Rugby on Friday revealed plans to drop South African teams and Argentina’s Jaguares from Super Rugby next year, in what could herald a major shake-up for the struggling competition.

NZR said the planned revamp of the flagship southern hemisphere club tournament would contain New Zealand’s five existing teams, one from the Pacific and two to four from Australia.

“We want teams that are competitive and that fans will want to watch go head-to-head, week-in, week-out,” chief executive Mark Robinson said.

Robinson blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for the decision to axe South Africa and Argentina from its plans, saying the virus meant long-distance travel was impossible.

He said decisions made around the new competition were “extremely tough”.

“We have a huge amount of sympathy for what’s happening to rugby in Argentina and South Africa and their inability to play at the moment and the uncertainty that’s creating,” he said.

Robinson was unable to provide details of whether governing body SANZAAR would oversee the new competition, the ownership structure for clubs or even whether it would be called Super Rugby.

The pandemic halted this year’s Super Rugby season in March, forcing New Zealand and Australia to set up domestic versions of the competition.

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