Sixth South African franchise for Super Rugby
September 4, 2013
The Lions regained their status for 2014 by defeating Southern Kings in a play-off © Getty Images
South Africa will field a sixth team in the 2016 Super Rugby competition, Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters and his South African Rugby Union counterpart Jurie Roux confirmed on Wednesday.
Roux, in Sydney for a meeting of the Sanzar executive, acknowledged the logistical problems the decision would cause but said he was relieved the union's long battle for the inclusion of a sixth team had reached a successful conclusion.
"We have a sixth team in the competition, and that is a given," he said. "All the models that are being discussed work around a sixth team from South Africa being included. Obviously there are issues that need to be sorted out and of course we want all our partners to be happy with the product, but at least the sixth team is guaranteed."
Peters, meanwhile, said in an interview run on SuperSport Blitz: "We want to retain Super Rugby as the pre-eminent regional tournament in the southern hemisphere, and we want to keep it as one competition, and there are various options we are looking at to ensure that, but I can confirm that a sixth team from South Africa has been accepted."
Peters acknowledged the "logical" argument to include a team from Argentina, in order to help the Pumas become more competitive in the Rugby Championship. He said that "if it is possible we would like to accommodate them" but added that New Zealand was also lobbying for a sixth team, and the long-standing desire to add an Asian team remained constant.
Super Rugby currently five teams from each of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
South Africa's Southern Kings made their debut in 2013, at the expense of the Lions, but the Johannesburg-based franchise regained their status for 2014 by defeating the Port Elizabeth-based side in a two-legged promotion-relegation play-off. South Africa is likely to retain its promotion-relegation system for the next two seasons before the new format kicks in.
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