New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew is "happy" with the newly announced Super Rugby format, which he says will lead to a simpler competition for players and fans.

Speaking to Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave shortly after the official announcement, Tew said the new format is good news for NZ Rugby.

"I think we are happy because we've been part of that decision-making process," Tew said.

"From a New Zealand point of view is that we backed the Japanese entry into the competition. We worked hard to help them make it work but ultimately it hasn't."


The 14-team round robin format – with the axing of the Sunwolves as reported earlier in the week – will see the removal of the current three conference system and will see each team play every other team home or away each season. The new format will come into effect in 2021.

Tew says the simpler format will create a stronger competition.

"You've got to go back to the 14-team round robin so everybody plays everybody, home or away. So a very clean competition. You're going to be a good side if you're in the top six. We wanted to keep as many teams alive for as long as possible."

The changes also brings good news and bad news, as rugby fans will see less of the competitive intensity of Kiwi derbies, which in turn will reduce the workload for New Zealand players, especially All Blacks.

NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew is happy. Photo / Photosport
NZ Rugby CEO Steve Tew is happy. Photo / Photosport

Taking everything into consideration, Tew believes the return to the 14-team format will increase interest among fans while benefiting player welfare.

"Our high performance people and our All Blacks coaches will be happy because there's no doubt that we see the impact on our player workload and welfare from the increased local games. But [it gets] very strong fan engagement and that is one of the factors that we had to take into account.

"Ultimately we believe that we can drive more interest from a clean round robin competition with a very simple finals format and that will overcome any loss of commercial interest because the derbies have dropped off."

Despite the loss of the only Asian-based team in Super Rugby, Tew says state of the sport in Japan is still strong and believes there are other opportunities to build interest in the country.


"There's a lot going on in Japan at the moment. There's a lot of interest as you would expect with the World Cup taking place up there later this year.

"A lot of interest in the game will be back in 2020 if we qualify our two teams for the Olympics and there's considerable interest in what their competition structure is going to be.

"So this is just one element of it and there's plenty of other activity that I think will build rugby in that country over time."