Millions in Europe a temptation, Lions boss admits
Cape Town - Large sums of money could sway South African teams to ply their trade in European competitions in future.
SANZAAR’s current Super Rugby broadcast deal expires in 2020 and according to Lions president Kevin de Klerk, the "millions of pounds on offer in Europe" could influence SA Rugby’s future decision-making.
This comes after a report over the weekend indicated that three more South African teams could leave Super Rugby to play in Europe.
The Wales Online website reported that the Sharks would be the first to join the European PRO14 competition for the 2019/20 season, with the Lions and Stormers potentially following suit the next season.
In an interview with Britain’s Daily Telegraph, De Klerk said market forces could force a move by South African teams to a northern hemisphere competition.
“Maybe ultimately, the millions of pounds on offer in Europe will influence the decision. There is nothing concrete at the moment. When this broadcasting deal comes to an end, there’s going to need to be some close negotiations with SANZAAR,” De Klerk said.
De Klerk added that he “would like to see South Africa remain in Super Rugby, but the European currency is making it difficult.”
However SANZAAR, the southern hemisphere's governing body, remains confident that South African teams will keep playing Super Rugby.
In a strongly worded press statement released on Monday, SANZAAR said all its member unions were still on board and involved in an ongoing review to determine Super Rugby's future up to 2030.
"As part of this process the member unions have fully committed to the strategy and their future participation," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said in a statement.
"Any talk of a change to the stakeholder relationship and partners withdrawing, creation of new teams in new markets and trans-Tasman competitions is unsubstantiated speculation and simply wrong."