Patrick McKendry 's Opinion

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Patrick McKendry: Super 17 it is - but many questions remain

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Two more teams are to be added to the Super Rugby tournament.
Two more teams are to be added to the Super Rugby tournament.

After months of speculation, and assurances we would be informed before Christmas, the latest information released by Super Rugby's governing body Sanzar about the competition's proposed new format is heavy on possibility but light on detail.

An eight-line statement, received by email at 8.37 on Thursday night, has informed us that after next year there are likely to be 17 teams, including one from Argentina and six from South Africa. New Zealand and Australia will continue with the current model of five teams each.

And that, unfortunately, is that. No other details were available and yesterday Sanzar's chief executive Greg Peters was unavailable for comment all day because of meetings. A Sanzar spokesman said in any case Peters had nothing more to add to what he said in the statement, which was: "Today's [Sanzar] meeting was another important step in deciding the future of Super Rugby. Encouraging progress was made and we now have a preferred model that involves six teams from South Africa and a new team from Argentina.

"The model will now be taken to the national unions for approval before Sanzar presents its final position to broadcasters and fans in due course."

Nothing more to add? What about - a smidgen of detail about how the draw could work with 17 teams replacing the current 15, a number which lends itself naturally to three conferences? Is this the end of the conference system? Will all teams play each other under the new model?

Those questions, and more, will have to be answered another time. For now we can only speculate what this new competition will look like and after years of tinkering it's unlikely the changes will improve it.

South African teams are not drawcards in New Zealand or Australia, and yet, here we are about to welcome a new one on board.

The New Zealand Super coaches' wish was to have a Pacifika team based in Auckland added to the competition. Once again, Pacific rugby appears to have been overlooked. What excitement and impact a team representing the Islands could have provided.

Instead, we'll have to put up with what will be a weak team from the Republic and a team from South America likely to tire quickly from almost constant travel.

- APNZ

Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby writer Patrick McKendry began his journalism career 20 years ago and has worked in newspapers in New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He worked in a communications role on his return here before joining APN before the 2011 World Cup.

Read more by Patrick McKendry

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