New Zealand Rugby announce Super Rugby review

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

New Zealand Rugby has announced a wide-ranging review of Super Rugby that will involve some of the game's most senior figures.

NZR has established a committee that will include CEO Mark Robinson, chairman Brent Impey, the chairs of the five New Zealand Super Rugbyand private investor representative Liz Dawson.

Blues chairman Don Mackinnon will head up the committee that will look over a broad range of factors when considering the direction of Super Rugby in New Zealand.

Monday's announcement comes after much discussion around the format of Super Rugby both amid the pandemic and even in the longer term.

Australia and New Zealand have been some of the best-performing countries when it comes to containing outbreaks of COVID-19, creating hope that the two countries could play Tests later in the year.

With international travel restrictions in place across the world, it is much less likely that matches could be played against South Africa or Argentina in the short-term, maybe even affecting the 2021 Super Rugby season.

Some of Australia's key stakeholders have been vocal in their support of a trans-Tasman only competition due to the timezone complications that come with playing against South African teams.

Mackinnon said in Monday's statement that the "Aratipu" review would look at areas across the Super Rugby spectrum from high performance pathway to digital broadcast rights.

"The work we are announcing today will look at a range of options for the future of Super Rugby in New Zealand with the goal of offering a competition that engages fans, is financially sustainable whilst continuing to develop outstanding players ready for national representative rugby," he said in a statement.

“All of the Super Rugby licenses were up for renewal in 2020 and a review was already underway as part of that, however the impact of Covid-19 creates another dimension and means we need to take a broader look at how we continue the 25 year legacy of Super Rugby for New Zealand.

“The scope of Aratipu will include the New Zealand Super Rugby competition (local and offshore), clarify Super Rugby’s role in the domestic high-performance pathway, review the ownership and equity structure, and digital rights. We will consult widely and think broadly.”

NZR has signed a five-year broadcast deal with SkySport for the current Super Rugby format and Robinson it was committed to that but needed to ensure the competition stayed "relevant".

“NZR is committed to SANZAAR and our broadcast agreement with Sky TV for the next five years. The review is about ensuring our Super Rugby remains relevant, sustainable and our fans are entertained and engaged.

“The recent Review of Rugby highlighted areas of opportunity for Super Rugby in terms of both revenue and cost. We are now also factoring in the impact of Covid-19 to look at a range of scenarios for the Clubs and competition to keep the Super Rugby legacy strong and fit for purpose.

“Aratipu is fitting as it symbolises development and growth in a new direction, and this review is about NZR and the NZ Super Rugby Clubs coming together in the spirit of regeneration and reinvigoration for the competition.

“This is an important piece of work for Super Rugby in New Zealand. I am encouraged by the discussions we have already had that demonstrate a real desire to drive positive change in the way Super Rugby is administered and played.

"It is a hugely positive signal for the game that clubs, investors and NZR are coming together to do what is in the best interests for Super Rugby and rugby in New Zealand.

“Super Rugby is a vital part of our rugby eco-system and has a solid 25-year track record as a strong and admired rugby competition that has valuable intellectual property and a legacy of world class rugby.

"We are committed to setting New Zealand Super Rugby up to continue this success for another 25 years.”

The group is aiming to produce a report by the end of June with recommendations on the next steps.