Radical changes planned for Super Rugby
February 14, 2014
This year's Super Rugby competition could be one of the last in its current format © Getty Images
The Southern Hemisphere's rugby controlling body, SANZAR, will consider a radical proposal to run Super Rugby along the lines of America's NFL, splitting the competition into four conferences with less travel for most of the teams.
The proposal was presented to the South African board's executive committee and still has a long way to go before it becomes the new format of the competition, supersport reported in South Africa. However, the proposal is currently being discussed by all three participating nations with a possible report back to SANZAR in the next few months.
Plans for change
No agreement has yet been reached on how the new format should look after 2015 when the current contract ends, but gone is the idea of an 18-team format that involved three franchises of six teams and little involvement from Japan and USA.
What has been deemed important in the new proposal is the inclusion of an Argentine franchise, as well as less travelling, while keeping the same cross-continent games that have been a highlight for the competition.
Under the new proposal, SANZAR will split Super Rugby into two major conferences - East and West, as is done in American football, supersport reported. These two conferences will then be split into two again: Africa featuring in two and Australia and New Zealand one each.
After completing a round-robin aspect of the conferences, the conferences would have a knockout phase starting with quarter-finals. The final overall would then be played between the Africa winner and the Australian/New Zealand winner.
The proposals still have to be accepted by each country but are now on the table. If accepted, SANZAR will then have a mandate to discuss further with the broadcast partners and negotiate a new five-year contract for Super Rugby.
Even if this new proposal is complicated, it would mean a win-win situation for all franchises as they would still have the huge derby matches as well as the international flavour.
The reduced travel would cut costs for the teams involved, a number of which are in financial trouble, as well as making the overall package more appealing to television.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd