Two South African sides and one from Australia are expected to get the chop when Sanzaar tonight finally drops the axe on three teams for next year's Super Rugby season.

South African newspaper Rapport reported that South Africa's Southern Kings and Cheetahs and the Western Force from Australia are set to be culled in a move that would see the struggling competition return to 15 teams, from 18.

Sanzaar last night said chief executive Andy Marinos would tonight (8pm NZT) announce details on the future of the competition and the tournament format, at the conclusion of round seven matches.

According to Rapport the new format will consist of three groups of five teams, with the Jaguares from Argentina playing in a round robin stage with the four remaining South African teams - the Lions, Bulls, Stormers and Sharks - from 2018's edition.


The Japanese Sunwolves are set to join the four Australian teams - the Waratahs, Brumbies, Reds and Rebels.

Sanzaar is not expected to announce which sides will be stripped of their Super Rugby status tonight, with that decision being left up to South African and Australian rugby bosses.

According to the Afrikaans Sunday paper, the announcement is set to be met with "an outcry" from CEOs of the six South African franchises - including former Springboks Rudolf Straeuli (Lions) and Gary Teichmann (Sharks) - at an emergency meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Declining TV viewership and attendance figures have seen a number of current and former players speak out against the 18-team format, with 1995 World Cup winning Springbok Joel Stranksy last week telling Radio Sport Breakfast that the Kings and Cheetahs need to go.

"I'm hoping we lose two teams. I'm hoping we lose the Kings, and to be fair, the Cheetahs are the other team who need to go," Stransky said.

"Purely because financially they are not sustainable. They have very low supporter bases during Super Rugby. They're in the middle of the country, they churn out great young talents but they are not places that can economically sustain a team."

Rapport's sources claim that the Force, Kings and Cheetahs would be the teams to go.

Though the details of which sides will miss out on Super Rugby from next season was not "officially" discussed at SA rugby's AGM this week, Rapport claims that topic was addressed "informally" on a number of occasions over the past days.

The six South African franchises plan on "uniting in protest" against Sanzaar's decision, in a similar way to what the Australian Players' Association have done in recent weeks. The association recently started a petition warning of "permanent damage" to the Australian game if a team is cut. The petition states axing an Aussie team would further weaken the game Down Under.