Mehrtens: ‘Stupid’ Super Rugby system doesn’t need SA
Cape Town - Former All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens has suggested a Super Rugby competition without South African and Argentine participants.
Mehrtens was commenting after 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.
Media reports from New Zealand indicated that the competition will be reduced from 18 to 15 teams, with an Australian team and two South African teams axed.
However, locally, there were reports of a 16-team competition, with one Australian and one South African team scrapped.
Changes, however, can only be made with unanimous agreement from all SANZAAR partners and the southern hemisphere governing body said it would make an announcement on the matter in due course.
Mehrtens, who played 70 Tests for the All Blacks between 1995 and 2004, has called for a more radical change.
Speaking on Fox Sports' Super Rugby: Kick & Chase programme, Mehrtens suggested there was no need for South Africa and Argentina to be part of the competition.
"I think the competition is stupid at the moment," Mehrtens said on the programme.
"There's no way, in 10 years' time that we're going to be looking at a competition that covers three massively distinct time zones.
"Our best thing is to go just within this time zone here. It makes it a lot more logistically easy to manage for the teams and players.
"You fly overnight, a 10-hour flight to Japan, you can handle that because the time difference is not massive.”
Mehrtens called for the introduction of Pacific Island nations like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to join the competition.
"In Asia and Australia and New Zealand and the (Pacific) Islands is where the future of this competition lies for us. The sooner we can get there the quicker we can develop it and the better."
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos commented on the situation following last weekend’s meeting in London.
"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,” Marinos said 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.