Super Rugby will retain the same structure for the 2017 season but there is an acceptance that it is not perfect and changes are possible for the following season, Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos said yesterday.
The 2016 season was the first with 18 teams, including new franchises in Argentina and Japan, and there were some major mismatches as well as criticism of a conference system which allowed home advantage in the play offs to some teams, despite them having a worse records than others.
“Looking at the overall structure, the competition is locked and loaded for next year,” Marinos told a media briefing.
“But we are looking at all the anomalies and see how we best can correct it,” he said.
“I’m not saying we will get every thing right, but at least we can have a good crack at it.”
Marinos said nothing would be off the table when it came to proposed changes to the structure of the playoffs, but expansion meant there could be no return to the days when each team played everyone else.
At a meeting with the national unions, Super Rugby coaches and TV broadcasters in Sydney last week, Marinos said the main concerns expressed had been over the competitiveness of some teams.
“If the teams compete well, it goes a fairway towards managing people’s expectations on the integrity of the competition,” he said.
“The big thrust there is getting the competitiveness back to where it was.
“The competition is in a good space. We had a global audience of 50 million and two million came through the turnstiles.”
Australia’s ability to maintain five teams and South Africa six was a concern, Marinos said, but any contraction or further expansion of the competition would have to wait until at least 2018, if not 2020 when the current TV contract expires.
Marinos has led a drive to put Sanzaar’s first 10-yearstrategic plan in place and consultant Accenture is due to make a series of recommendations.
Marinos, though, clearly believes expansion is essential for the health of southern hemisphere rugby, which provided all four semifinalists at last year’s World Cup.
“There is no shying away that the money in the game in France and England is a significant threat ” he said.