Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos has branded reports of a South African exodus as "simply wrong" and expressed disappointment at reports of possible structures beyond 2020.
Sanzaar has been quick to shut down suggestions from the Northn Hemispehere that three more South African teams will join the Pro14 from 2020. According to reports, the Sharks, Stormers and Lions will follow the Cheetahs and Southern Kings after becoming "disillusioned" with Super Rugby.
But Sanzaar, organisers of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, said the report was unfounded and South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina remained committed to future participation.
Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos rubbished the reports in a statement on Monday morning, and also expressed his frustration that longer-term options had been revealed in media reports.
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"Sanzaar - through its joint venture partners - Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa - is currently engaged in a detailed strategic planning process that will deliver a road-map for the organisation, Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship from 2018-2030," the statement read.
"As part of this process the partners have fully committed to the strategy and future participation.
"Any talk of a change to the stakeholder relationship and partners withdrawing, and so-called trans-Tasman competitions is unsubstantiated speculation and simply wrong.
"This 12-year strategy is designed to address the challenges facing our game and to clearly articulate Sanzaar's vision and purpose in terms of a sustainable future. The desired outcome is the delivery of competitive, innovative, engaging and financially sustainable competitions to ensure the continued success of the Member Unions and the Super Rugby clubs/franchises."
"Everything has been on the table – status quo, expansion, contraction, competition formats, etc - as part of our initial blue-sky thinking. We basically started with a blank piece of paper and now we are doing the detailed analysis on what is viable, sustainable and best for our competitions.
"There is an incredible amount of detailed work taking place in this review and we have specialist groups working across all aspects of the review. Therefore it is very disappointing that various aspects of the initial work in terms of potential tournament formats been taken out of context and aired in public."
"Potential expansion into new markets for example should not be confused with only an increase in teams. We are already in the process of taking the established product to new markets. Matches being played in Singapore, Hong Kong, Fiji and Samoa are examples of this.
"We are especially mindful at present that we have just come out of a process that has seen a contraction of Super Rugby. The introduction of new teams or any form of expansion would need to meet a defined set of criteria that have been established," added Marinos.
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