Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

New Zealand plan to drop South Africa and Argentina from Super Rugby

NZR chief executive blames pandemic for 'extremely tough' decisions

Hurricanes fans celebrating a try during the Super Rugby match against Japan's Sunwolves at McLean Park in Napier, New Zealand. AFP
Hurricanes fans celebrating a try during the Super Rugby match against Japan's Sunwolves at McLean Park in Napier, New Zealand. AFP

New Zealand Rugby revealed plans on Friday to cull South African teams and Argentina's Jaguares from Super Rugby next year, in what would be a ruthless shake-up for the struggling competition.

NZR's planned revamp of the flagship southern hemisphere club tournament would contain New Zealand's five existing teams, two to four from Australia and one newcomer from the Pacific, giving the sprawling competition a strong trans-Tasman focus.

South Africa, which co-founded Super Rugby in 1996 with Australia and New Zealand, would see its five teams dumped, along with the Buenos Aires-based Jaguares.

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson blamed the Covid-19 pandemic for the "extremely tough" decisions made around the new competition, saying it meant long-distance travel was impossible.

"We have a huge amount of sympathy for what's happening to rugby in Argentina and South Africa and their inability to play at the moment and the uncertainty that's creating," he said.

The coronavirus halted this year's Super Rugby season in March, forcing New Zealand and Australia to set up domestic versions of the competition, while South African clubs and the Jaguares remain sidelined.

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.

Updated: July 17, 2020 01:00 PM

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