Naas: SA's 4 best teams must play Super Rugby
Cape Town - Former Springbok flyhalf Naas Botha has shared his views following the announcement that the number of teams participating in Super Rugby will be reduced.
SANZAAR confirmed on Sunday that the 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.
“There are many ways how they can determine which teams should fall away, but all that I’m asking is that the four best South African teams remain in the competition,” Botha told Netwerk24.
Botha said it would be ideal for the six current South African franchises to play in a mini competition to determine who advances to Super Rugby.
“Nobody needs to be protected because they were a good team 10 years ago. Your geographical location should also not determine whether you stay in the competition.”
Reducing the number of teams can ultimately boost South African rugby, Botha believes.
“Maybe it’s better that our player pool only feeds four teams. You want the best 160 players in the country to feed the four Super-teams,” Botha continued.
SA Rugby will commence with internal consultations to identify its four entrants to the 2018 competition.
The process will start in Johannesburg on Tuesday (April 11), where the SA Rugby Franchise Rugby Committee will meet.
The newly-established Franchise Rugby Committee is made up of representatives of all six South African franchises.
Explaining the changes to the tournament SANZAAR chairperson, Brent Impey, commented: “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."