The expected changes to next year’s Super Rugby tournament were confirmed on Sunday morning – and it’s bad news for South Africa.
Here’s a quick explainer on the relevant tweaks.
Has the number of teams been reduced?
Yes. Next year’s tournament will feature 15 teams, down from 18.
How does it affect South Africa?
Sanzaar, the governing body of Super Rugby, has decided that TWO South African sides will have to be eliminated.
The other relegated team will be from Australia.
Who will those two teams be?
It’s expected that it will be the Kings and Cheetahs.
The Kings are currently a financial black hole because the South African Rugby Union (Saru) needs to bankroll them (the Eastern Province Rugby Union is bankrupt).
However, the Cheetahs aren’t in the cross hairs necessarily because of poor results but rather because Bloemfontein, apparently, doesn’t have a big enough market to raise attendance figures.
But aren’t the Bulls perhaps in danger?
The Blue Bulls Company this week revealed at Saru’s annual meeting that its finances are in trouble – not because of poor management but because no-one wants to watch the Bulls play anymore.
And who can blame fans, given how poorly the team is performing at the moment?
That said, the Bulls’ fan base is still very diversified, meaning they, still represent a bigger market than the Cheetahs.
When will we know which teams are cut?
Saru’s new competition sub-committee meets on Tuesday, 11 April to discuss who gets the chop.
Why can’t Japan’s Sunwolves be done away with?
Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos has the answer for that.
“The decision to retain the Sunwolves is linked directly to Sanzaar’s strategic plan for the future. The potential for growth of the sport in Asia off the back of the establishment of the Sunwolves and the impending Rugby World Cup in 2019 is significant.”
How do the new conferences look?
There are now only three.
New Zealand conference: Highlanders, Blues, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Chiefs.
South African conference (expected): Stormers, Lions, Sharks, Bulls, Jaguares.
Australian conference (expected): Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies, Rebels, Sunwolves.
And, yes, you still don’t play all the teams…