Flawed Super system stays
NEWS: The much-criticized 18-team Super Rugby system will remain unchanged for at least another year.
SANZAAR Chief Executive Andy Marinos confirmed that there will be no change to the structure for 2017, but admitted changes will be made "sometime in the future".
Marinos, addressing the media, admitted the 2016 version was "not perfect" and changes are possible for 2018.
The 2016 season was the first with 18 teams - including new franchises in Argentina and Japan.
Numerous mismatches in a heavily diluted competition and the seriously flawed play-off system - which drew most of the criticism from New Zealand - are among the biggest concerns.
"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."
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."
Australia's ability to maintain five teams and South Africa six was a "concern", Marinos said, but any contraction or further expansion of the competition would have to wait until at least 2018, if not 2020 when the current TV contract expires.
"There has been that conversation [of reducing teams, however] it's really important we have a strong base from which you can have an expansionary model, if that's what we're looking at," he said.
"We've looked at all options. The only way in which you can look at an expansion model is if you've got strength in your core markets.
"It's like building a house on the beach; you build a house next to the beach on concrete so that it's going to stand. It's important we get the base strong."
However, SANZAAR is in the middle of a major independent review into the structure of the Super Rugby competition, trying to work out the perfect number of teams from a commercial point of view.
the best players for as long as possible,' he concluded.
Sources: Reuters & Sydney Morning Herald