New Zealand Rugby ditches Sanzaar: Australia responds to Super Rugby invitation

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NZR said that it wants an overhaul of the competition leaving New Zealand's five current teams, one from the Pacific and two to four from Trans-Tasman rivals Australia.

New Zealand Rugby have proposed a competition that includes all five Super Rugby teams from New Zealand with a potential team from the Pacific Islands.

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said a six-week event held from early November until mid-December is now being targeted, with Sanzaar to take on the expense of quarantine measures for the Australia, South Africa and Argentina teams.

He said South Africa Rugby had planned a return-to-play strategy "in the weeks ahead".

Southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR announced plans Thursday to hold this year's Rugby Championship in New Zealand, as the game's Kiwi powerbrokers gathered to discuss a radical revamp of Super Rugby.

It favours between eight and 10 teams in the Super Rugby competition, with a "huge desire" for a Pasifika team.

South Africa Rugby said it would give a full response next week, but noted that COVID-19 had "asked fundamental questions of the viability of competitions and fixture scheduling".

Super Rugby contracted to 15 teams from 18 in 2018 and has axed the Tokyo Sunwolves for 2021 but despite speculation its days may be numbered, Marinos said SANZAAR was critical to success of rugby in the region.

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He said: "They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can't cross the gates of Heaven".

Rugby Australia acknowledged NZR's plans in a brief statement, recognising the need to review Super Rugby's "sustainability and practicality" in the current environment.

Australia has ruled out having only two of its Super Rugby teams in any new competition, and delaying a Pacific side until 2022 would potentially allow all five - Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels, NSW Waratahs and Western Force - to play next year.

It remains unknown how many Australian teams will contest Super Rugby in 2021.

New Zealand hopes the new tournament will deliver exciting, competitive rugby and a product for fans to enjoy.

They neglected to put the match to bed and let the Highlanders to get back into the contest as they closed the gap to just six points but they were able to continue to earn their second victory of Super Rugby Aotearoa. An expression of interest process will begin next week, in conjunction with SANZAAR, with the NZ Rugby board seeking "teams that are competitive and that fans will want to watch go head to head, week in, week out".

Rugby Australia issued a press release saying this acknowledges New Zealand Rugby's preferred placement.

Robinson said NZR would also be consulting with SANZAAR as part of the ongoing work on establishing the competition.

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