A SA move to Europe would bankrupt NZ Rugby - Kiwi scribe
Cape Town - South African teams leaving Super Rugby for tournaments in Europe would have dire consequences for New Zealand Rugby, a Kiwi scribe has warned.
A recent report indicated that SA teams were planning to leave Super Rugby for the PRO14 competition in Europe.
The Wales Online website reported that the Sharks would be the next South African side to join the PRO14 competition for the 2019/20 season, with the Lions and Stormers potentially following suit the season thereafter.
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos strongly denied the report, but Mark Reason, a columnist for New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz website, feels the southern hemisphere governing body’s boss may be in for a rude awakening.
“This is feverishly wishful thinking from the chief executive of SANZAAR. The reports are full of substance and make absolutely terrifying reading for New Zealand Rugby,” Reason wrote.
“If South Africa do decide to leave but for a skeleton team or two in Super Rugby, then the competition's revenue streams will plummet. Such a fall would be enough to bankrupt NZR by 2023. At their current rate of spending, New Zealand Rugby need a significant rise in income from their next Super Rugby television contract just to break even.”
SANZAAR’s TV rights deal expires at the end of 2019 and Reason fears that South Africa will seek greener pastures in the north.
Reason also admitted that a move to the northern hemisphere would be in favour of South African rugby.
“You have to ask the question - why wouldn't South Africa go to Europe? Here are all the points in favour of a move. The compatible time zones mean that the away games will all be on TV at prime times. The flight time from Johannesburg to London is five hours shorter than it is to Auckland.
“The combination of the PRO14 competition and the European Cup are commercially way more valuable than Super Rugby can ever hope to be. It is the economics of population size.
“And of course half of South Africa's top players are already playing in Europe. But in favour of Super Rugby there is, er, taking suggestions from the back - the high standard of New Zealand teams raising standards, you say. Maybe, but I'm struggling to see that on the balance sheet. South Africa's fans don't like seeing their teams being constantly humiliated.”
In a strongly worded press statement released last week, 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," Marinos said in the 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."
READ Mark Reason’s full column on the Stuff.co.nz website