Super Rugby will retain the same structure for 2017 but there is an acceptance that it is not perfect and changes are possible for the following season, SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said on Monday.
The 2016 season was the first with 18 teams, including new franchises in Argentina and Japan, and there were some major mismatches as well as criticism of a conference system which allowed home advantage in the playoffs to some teams despite them having a worse records than others.
“Looking at the overall structure, the competition is locked and loaded for next year,” Marinos told a media briefing.
“But we are looking at all the anomalies and see how we best can correct it. I’m not saying we will get everything right, but at least we can have a good crack at addressing it.”
Nothing would be “off the table” when it came to proposed changes to the structure of the playoffs, he added, but expansion meant there could be no return to the days when each team played everyone else.
At a meeting with the national unions, Super Rugby coaches and TV broadcasters in Sydney last week, Marinos said the main concerns expressed had been over the competitiveness of some teams.
“If the teams are all competing well, that does go a fair way towards managing people’s expectations around the integrity of the competition,” he said.
“The big thrust there is getting the competitiveness back to where it was.
“It’s a damned good competition,” he added. “The competition is in a very good space. We had a global audience of 50 million and two million came through the turnstiles.”
There were reports earlier this week that SANZAAR had approached PRO12 chiefs about a possible super tournament and Marinos has not ruled out moving into new countries.
Marinos said that the Australia, New Zealand and South Africa markets were reaching saturation point and the only way to drive “exponential” growth was to move into new countries.
The United States was “attractive” but, Marinos said, the lesson of bringing Argentina into SANZAAR had been that expansion should not happen overnight.
“You’ve got to get in there and strategically invest to build sustainability over a period of time so that when they do compete at the top table they are competitive,” he said.
What do you think should be done to improve Super Rugby and to a lesser extent, the PRO12? [SuperSport]