Super Rugby silence is frustrating but necessary - Tew
Wellington - New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew has
conceded that the silence surrounding the proposed changes to Super Rugby is
frustrating but said discussion with a "large number" of affected
parties was necessary before they could be finalised.
SANZAAR, made up of the South African, New Zealand,
Australian and Argentine rugby unions, met in London two weeks ago to address
widespread criticism of the unwieldy 18-team format of its provincial
Fevered speculation about the shape of the agreement
followed with media reports in Australia and South Africa indicating that a
total of up to three teams from those two countries would be axed for 2018.
SANZAAR, though, has failed to provide any further
information and left the guesswork to grow unchecked.
"I accept that, I think it was called the 'golden
silence' in one media report, is frustrating but (until) we have confirmation I
can't say any more," Tew told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
"There have been some tough decisions taken. But they
require consultation and sign-off from a large number of parties and that work
is underway and largely out of our hands."
Media reports indicate that the teams most at threat are
Australia's Force, Brumbies and Rebels as well as South Africa's Kings and
A 16-team competition, or a reversion to the 15-team format
that prevailed before 2016, would allow organisers to axe the confusing
conference system that has created an imbalanced playing schedule and ensure a
straight round-robin format.
Tew would not be drawn on the substance of any changes,
although he did say he was happy with the new format.
"We are very comfortable that the decisions made in
principle in London will be good for the competition and good for New Zealand
rugby," he added.
"We would all have empathy for anyone who is subject to
a change process but sometimes it’s necessary to make tough decisions and you
have to work through it."
Tew's comments came hours after the coach of the Perth-based
Force said the uncertainty was making player recruitment and retention for
beyond this season very difficult.
"The frustrating thing is we haven't been able to
finalise those things because of the uncertainty with SANZAAR," Dave
Wessels told reporters in Perth.
"That leaves the rest of our group feeling a bit upset
Wessels urged SANZAAR to finalise discussions as soon as
possible to end the uncertainty not only for players but for administrative,
coaching and support staff.
"In behind this are people with families," Wessels
"That's everyone who works in our organisation, as well
as the Rebels and Brumbies. And for that matter the Cheetahs and Kings.
"So you're talking about a substantial amount of people
who are affected by this uncertainty. The sooner it can be settled, the better