Aussies wanted SA out of Super Rugby - report
Cape Town - The New Zealand Rugby Union reportedly rejected the Australian Rugby Union's plan to form a new Super Rugby competition which excluded teams from South Africa.
According to the New Zealand Herald website, this was revealed by ARU chairperson Cameron Clyne on Monday.
Super Rugby matches involving South African teams are believed to be unpopular in Australia, both in terms of crowds and TV viewers.
However, New Zealand Players' Association boss Rob Nichol said the experience that the South African teams provided to Kiwi players - both in terms of the style of play and travel - was invaluable to their development.
"The nature of rugby in New Zealand, whether it's for a franchise or an international team - the All Blacks, etc. - is that you need to be able to travel and win, and Super Rugby presents a fantastic opportunity in that respect," Nichol told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave.
"The players enjoy the challenge of having to go to Africa and perform and that's been historically the case since Super Rugby started. In addition, while our international players and All Blacks in particular have to do a lot of travel, and towards the end of the year that becomes quite a challenge... a vast majority of our players really look forward to getting on the road with their team.
"That combined with the history of our relationship with South Africa... means we're very keen to keep playing against South Africa."
This comes after SANZAAR confirmed on Sunday that the Super Rugby tournament will be reduced from 18 to 15 teams from next year.
South Africa will lose two teams and Australia one, with Japan’s Sunwolves and Argentina’s Jaguares retained.
SANZAAR chairperson, Brent Impey, commented on the changes via a press statement: “The decision to revert to a 15-team format reflects a consensus view of the mandated SANZAAR executive committee that met in London recently. It was not the determination of any one union or stakeholder and follows a thorough assessment and review of the tournament over the last nine months.
“SANZAAR is delighted that its major broadcast partners have after due consideration agreed to the restructured format within the existing broadcast agreements. Our broadcast partners are an important stakeholder and their vision for Super Rugby moving forward is the same as ours.
“This decision has not been an easy one and we recognise the difficulty associated with reducing the number of teams in Australia and South Africa. Naturally we understand that there will be some very disappointed franchises but the tournament's long-term future and the economic reality of the business at present is something that had to be addressed.
“The decision to retain the Sunwolves is linked directly to SANZAAR’s strategic plan for the future. The potential for growth of the sport in Asia off the back of the establishment of the Sunwolves and the impending RWC in 2019 is significant. It remains an obvious focus for the organisation and a Japanese Super Rugby franchise is key to that strategy."