Cheetahs, Kings to lose Super Rugby status?
Cape Town - The Cheetahs are believed to be one of three teams who could lose their Super Rugby status if the competition is reduced from 18 to 15 teams next year.
SANZAAR bosses met in London over the weekend to discuss the future of the tournament’s format, which has come under fire since it was expanded last year.
"Following two days of robust discussion there are a number of tournament considerations that now require further discussion and consultation. This includes final consultation within the national unions and discussion with key stakeholders that would allow the adoption of changes proposed by the strategic plan,” SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos commented via a press statement.
"SANZAAR will make a formal statement on the future of the organisation, Super Rugby and the tournament format in the coming days once these further meetings have been concluded," added Marinos.
However, it is believed that the most popular proposal put forward was that three teams be scrapped from the tournament.
According to the Stuff.co.nz website, New Zealand's preference is for a 15-team model which retains the Sunwolves and the Jaguares, and involves South Africa dropping two sides.
Changes, however, can only be made with unanimous agreement from all SANZAAR partners.
The Australian Rugby Union is thought to be open to dropping one team - which in all likelihood will be a toss-up between the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels.
According to Sunday newspaper Rapport, SA Rugby’s representatives lobbied for a 16-team competition, which would only see one South African team scrapped from the competition.
But it appears the other SANZAAR members were in agreement that three teams should exit the tournament, with two of those being South African teams.
The Kings would be the first South African team to be eliminated, while the Cheetahs are seemingly also in trouble, the Afrikaans newspaper reported.
The Cheetahs' position is weakened because they don't have the economic power of the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers regions, the report stated.
For example, if only 10% of potential rugby viewers in and around Pretoria attended a match at Loftus, the stadium could be filled six times over. In contrast, 10% of potential rugby viewers in and around Bloemfontein would only attract about 15 000 to Free State Stadium.