Super Rugby
Super Rugby can grow 'almost global'
May 2, 2014
The new format for Super Rugby © SANZAR

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew can imagine Super Rugby expanding beyond 18 teams, labelling the expanded four-conference model announced for 2016 as an "advancement" on the existing format and the most balanced solution to appease all parties.

The new competition

  • Expanded competition to 18 teams from 2016 - South Africa 6th, Argentina, plus new team
  • Shorter competition - from 21 weeks to 20 weeks
  • All teams play one less match in a regular season - from 16 matches to 15
  • Four conferences playing in two regional Groups - South Africa and Australasia
  • The Australasia Group made up of two conferences - Australia (five teams) and New Zealand (five teams)
  • South African Group made up of two conferences - South Africa 1 (three teams plus one from Argentina), and South Africa 2 (three teams plus the 18th team)
  • Each team plays 15 regular season matches - eight home/seven away or vice versa every second year
  • A total 135 regular season matches and seven Finals Series matches (compared to 120 and five)

Tew said SANZAR officials had an open mind about the location of the 18th team, with a decision likely to be made early next year. The new franchise is open to tender, with interest expressed already by officials in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and the west coast of the United States.

"We think it's a great chance for our competition to explore the possibilities," he said. "They'll have to have a venue that is suitable, the financial backing to be sustainable over a period of time, and they'll have to show us they can put a competitive team on the field without filling it full of Kiwis."

Tew made no apology for another change to the championship, which has had three different models since the Super 12 was launched in 1996, saying rugby is still finding its feet compared with more established professional sports. And he says Super Rugby has the scope to tap into many more markets, with only Europe an unlikely area for expansion.

"I could envisage in the future four vertical conferences which are bigger than they are now, which would confine the travel and increase the markets that we're in," Tew said. "Then we might end up with a finals series that's almost global."

The finals series will run for three weeks © SANZAR

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