SANZAR open to expansion talk
Cape Town - SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters has revealed his organisation is ready to consider ideas to possibly alter the shape of the Super Rugby tournament.
The current conference-based format cannot be changed under the terms of the latest broadcasting deal which runs until 2015 but Peters told the ESPNscrum website
that the Southern Hemisphere's governing body is open to expansion talk in future.
"We will certainly start to consider it," he told the website. "It is another thing that the conference format allows us to do and, we can add teams and add conferences.
"When we look at 2016 onwards, we have no closed views on what the future may look like and our current format allows us to expand should we wish to and should it be in the best interests of the three SANZAR countries to do so because that is why we do this."
The current conference system has received some criticism of late, especially with Australia getting an advantage despite their top team finishing behind some of South Africa and New Zealand's second and third placed teams on log points. The Reds - who won the Australian conference this year - received a home playoff clash despite having the least number of log points of all the top six teams.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) is also keen to see an expansion to the tournament with the pressure growing to accommodate its existing five sides and the Southern Kings.
However, SANZAR may even look further afield if it makes commercial sense with Rugby Championship newcomers Argentina, Japan, the USA and the Pacific Islands all mentioned as possible new territories in terms of teams and conferences.
"We haven't engaged formally with people in the new territories that may want to come into Super Rugby," said Peters. "I am sure Argentina will have aspirations to do so if their entry into the Rugby Championship is the success we all know it will be.
"There are a number of options we could consider and obviously Asia-Pacific is a strong area for the future given Japan is hosting the 2019 World Cup and the interest in rugby is going to grow in that area without doubt and we all know the strength of the Pacific Island players in our competitions currently.
"There are a lot of opportunities, including others in the Americas, but the ultimate goal for SANZAR is to do what is best for the three main countries. You have to get additional commercial value into the equation before you can expand into any new territories."
These last mentioned scenarios will obviously not be favourable for South Africa, who's desperate to get six teams into the competition to accomodate the Port Elizabeth-based Kings.