Rugby: Further Super expansion possible

By Daniel Richardson

Steve Tew believes further expansion could be on the cards for Super Rugby. Photo / Getty
Steve Tew believes further expansion could be on the cards for Super Rugby. Photo / Getty

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew believes further expansion could be on the cards for Super Rugby.

Following confirmation that a new-look format will start in 2016 involving 18 teams with two groups and four conferences, Tew said even more teams could be involved in the future.

The impending television broadcast deal will dictate the length of time the new format is in play for.

"We don't make any apologies for always looking to do things differently and better,'' Tew said. "We are incredibly keen for the game to grow out of traditional markets.''

One of those new markets may be represented via the 18th Super Rugby team, who are yet to be confirmed, while South African outfit the Southern Kings will return to the competition and an Argentinian side will finally get an opportunity as part of one of the South African conferences.

Sanzar will now take bids for the final team, who will be part of a South African conference, and there's a number of interested parties, including the West Coast of the United States, Southern Europe and South East Asia where countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan could be involved.

"I think by the end of the year we'd have to be pretty advanced,'' Tew said of the new team.

"We'll keep an open mind and we'll be a part of the decision as to where that team is based so we'll put a New Zealand consideration to it.''

It's a tricky process to balance who will get the final spot but they have to work in with broadcasters and prove they have strong financial backing, a suitable venue and the ability to conjure up a strong squad.

"They'll have to show us that they can put a competitive team on the paddock without filling it full of Kiwis,'' Tew said.

There's an element of Tew wanting to have everything his own way there given the country with the biggest overflow of talent is New Zealand but he said they were within their rights to protect their property.

"We like our players playing in our teams.''

Tew acknowledged the biggest challenges around Super Rugby were travel and player welfare and said they were pleased to be able to confirm there would be one less game played with 15 contests set to make up the regular season.

There will be six local derbies for New Zealand teams compared to eight in the current system.

The five existing New Zealand and Australian Super Rugby teams will make up the conference of their respective countries and complete the 10-team Australasian group.

Each South African conference will have four teams with their make-up yet to be confirmed.

Eight teams will make the playoffs with three from the South African group and five from the Australasian group with a quarter-final knockout format in place.

"The integrity of the competition is still there,'' Tew said. "We think the way we've mapped out the finals series with five teams coming forward out of the Australasian conference still means that to win this competition, you are going to be a very, very good rugby side and you're going to have to be consistent.''

Some had questioned the validity of having South Africa involved but Tew said Australasia was never going to break away from them.

"We believe firmly that South Africa is good for New Zealand rugby that it's being an important part of our strength to have our young players going regularly to South Africa and learning to play there and play against the South African teams.''

- APNZ

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 02 Aug 2014 04:54:22 Processing Time: 876ms