Broadcasters hold key to Super Rugby change

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A new Super Rugby format may be announced in ‘coming days’, but an announcement will hinge on talks with broadcasters after critical SANZAAR meetings.

While it is believed the SANZAAR countries did reach a consensus at their executive meeting, that stretched into the late hours of Friday night in London, and it seems unlikely that agreement would have maintained the current format.

The story is far from over, with any decision needing to be ratified by various groups before it becomes official.

Any change would depend upon talks with stakeholders when the delegates return to Australia, with the broadcasters holding the "keys to the castle".

The current broadcast deal runs until 2020 and that deal was contingent on the current format of the competition and its number of teams, with any change potentially having a significant financial impact.

The Super Rugby governing body released a statement on Saturday morning, saying that a public call would be made ‘in the coming days’.

"Following two days of robust discussion there are a number of tournament considerations that now require further discussion and consultation,” SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said in a statement.

“This includes final consultation within the National Unions and discussion with key stakeholders that would allow the adoption of changes proposed by the strategic plan."

Interestingly, the statement referenced more than simply the Super Rugby format.

"SANZAAR will make a formal statement on the future of the organisation, Super Rugby and the tournament format in the coming days once these further meetings have been concluded," Marinos said.

The partner unions agreed against issuing any individual statements following the meeting, leaving the competition’s fate and that of under-fire franchises publicly in limbo for a little bit longer.