The big plan for Super Rugby is to cut the competition to 15 teams next year. That's the agreement they didn't quite make in London and they didn't quite make it because they are disastrously short on detail about how or even if they can axe three teams.

Again, in theory, the plan is for two African teams to be cut and one to be lost from Australia. That would create three equal conferences of five teams each - with the Jaguares joining the four in South Africa and the Sunwolves sitting alongside the four Australian teams. Done.

That would revert Super Rugby to the same format it was in between 2011 and 2015. Back then they had 15 teams in three conferences. Teams would play eight derby games - home and away - and then four of the five teams in both of the other conferences.

It wasn't universally loved as a format but it kind of worked. It was certainly better than the current convoluted nonsense that doesn't make sense to anyone. And should it be resurrected, most players and coaches would be happy enough.


But while it would restore some kind of integrity, it would be a serious regression for the Super Rugby movement. They would be back to where they were a few years ago, except two of the 15 teams would be in geographically awkward places, their presence making no sense.

The net outcome would be even more burdensome travel for the players, incompatible time zones and in truth, the presence of two teams who will stand virtually no chance of ever winning Super Rugby.

Except, this future, while coveted, is not necessarily the one that awaits Super Rugby in 2018, for this being Sanzaar, it is anything but a done deal. Not done because there is a serious amount of devil in the detail and it's one thing to theoretically axe teams, another again to actually do it.

How, for example, is the Australian Rugby Union going to determine which of its five teams should be chopped? Presumably papers, scissors, rock isn't an option, but who knows, bad ideas are never in short supply when it comes to Super Rugby.

The process of determining which teams are let go is expected to become fraught with legal difficulties. There are sponsorship deals in place, licence agreements and player contracts to consider. That's all before anyone talks to the broadcasters about how they feel.

The position in Australia is most tense. The players don't support a reduction and have campaigned hard to not see their allocation reduced.

The Australian Rugby Union may find itself at war with its own clubs and in the most public and damaging way.

Despite Sanzaar's assertion over the weekend that confirmation would come shortly on the future of the competition, that doesn't seem likely.

There would appear to be months of negotiation ahead and rumour, half truths and speculation are going to distort the picture and further reduce the credibility of Super Rugby.

The situation is such a mess that there are some who feel the status quo will end up being preserved for next year in terms of the number of teams, with amendments to the format.

Keeping 18 teams but changing the set-up may end up being the only face-saving play for Sanzaar when a few months down the track, the whole business of cutting teams is deemed too hard.