Editorial: Tough decisions for rugby bosses

Super Rugby bosses are facing tough decisions over the next couple of days as they decide on which path they want to steer their global tournament.

Many rugby fans and officials feel that if the tournament is to prosper, the 18-team league needs to be cut to at least 16.

That possibility will be worrying for the Southern Kings, who were the worst performing team of the South African franchises last year.

Teams under threat, like the Kings, will want a decision made as soon as possible, so they can court potential sponsors and give long-term stability to players.

After a Sanzaar meeting in London at the weekend, it was suggested that the New Zealand Rugby Union went into the meeting with the strong position that Australia cut one team and South Africa cut two teams.

What could save the Kings and ensure their stay in the competition is that any change to the competition requires a unanimous vote.

SA Rugby officials or Australian Rugby Union officials could have vetoed the New Zealand position, but it is not known if they did or not.

SA Rugby officials have remained silent on the issue and it is not clear whether they want to cut any teams.

This is a frustrating time for the Kings who are now being bankrolled by the SA Rugby Union after a cash crisis hit the EP Rugby Union.

Insiders believe it is unlikely South Africa will give up two teams, given that it pushed so hard to expand from five sides to six not long ago.

An 18-team model could still get the green light, with the idea being to introduce a three-conference system consisting of six teams apiece, with Japan joining five Australian teams and Argentina linking up with the five New Zealand outfits.

The big decision facing bosses is whether quantity is better than quality as they wrestle with ways to make Super Rugby more attractive.

The 18-team conference format has left many fans confused and questioning the credibility of the tournament.

Even Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos has admitted that Australia’s ability to maintain five teams and South Africa six was a concern.

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