SA can support six teams
The announcement of Super Rugby expanding to 18 teams in 2016 has been met with profound and even gruff criticism.
The suggestion has been that the expanded version no longer holds the allure that captured audiences when the game went professional with the Super 12 in 1996.
SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters, in Part Two of his exclusive interview with rugby365, allayed fears that South African don't have the depth to field a sixth team or that an Argentinean team's entry into Super Rugby will make them just cannon fodder.
Peters pointed to the performances of the Kings last year and the Lions this year as evidence that South Africa will remain competitive - even if some of their teams (read Stormers and Cheetahs) drop their standards.
The SANZAR boss also said the Argentinean team will look to lure back some of their high-profile players from Europe to ensure they are competitive.
"That is the reason we haven't expanded further than we are currently doing now," Peters told this website, when asked if there is some basis for the suggestions that the competition is already too diluted.
"We believe it will be a step too far to go further than that," he said of a proposal that they should go to a 20-team competition.
"We want to maintain a competitiveness in the competition generally."
Peters was confident that the South African conferences will not drop below the standards of their Australasian rivals because of the addition of the Kings in 2016.
"If you look at how the Kings performed in their first year , they did as well, if not better than any team who came into the competition in their first ear," Peters told rugby365.
"The Lions have also done similarly well this year, coming back into the competition.
"We are confident that South Africa can support six teams and that Argentina will do pretty well with the players that they will have access to."
Peters said a key criteria for the 18th team - which they have put out to world-wide tender - is how competitive that will be.
"That is a pretty keen criteria in identifying where that [18th] team comes from."
He also said that Argentina have a core of very competitive players based in Europe.
"They will want a good number of those back to provide a backbone for the team and build around that backbone," the SANZAR boss told this website.
"They have some new and exciting young players coming through, which we saw when their Pampas team that competed in the Vodacom Cup [in South Africa] and the Pacific Rugby Cup [in Australasia].
Peters said he was "extremely excited" about the evolution of Super Rugby.
"I am excited about where we are going and the longer term vision of moving into new territories, but ensuring our rugby stays strong in the three SANZAR countries and Argentina - who are a big part of what SANZAR is now.
"It is a very exciting time for us.
"I believe that if we stand still, we will stagnate. We need to keep evolving, we need to keep developing and we need to look at new markets.
"As world rugby develops, we need to be thinking about how we can best take advantage of that for the benefit of our SANZAR partners."
By Jan de Koning
* Don't forget to read our next instalment on the Super Rugby expansion, when we bring you the view of ARU CEO Bill Pulver.