SUPER RUGBY REVAMP: 'Don't blame us' says NZ

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 08:18
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REACTION: New Zealand is not to blame for the problems that are forcing Australia to axe one of its five Super Rugby teams, New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew said on Monday.

Amid anger and finger-pointing on the Australian side of the Tasman over the decision announced Sunday, Tew admitted Super Rugby over-reached by expanding to 18 teams last year.

But he denied reports in Australia that New Zealand was the driving force in pruning the competition back to 15 teams and had insisted one Aussie team must go.

"There will be pain and there's going to be a lot more emotive commentary in Australia and it's not unusual for us to get the blame," Tew told Radio Sport.

Tew said the SANZAAR nations that run the competition made a collective decision, adding: "We had the figures in front of us, that's what some of the more emotive commentary won't take into account."

He said viewer numbers in Australia and South Africa were concerning in the first year of the expanded competition, then "plummeted" this season.

In addition, he said market research had shown fans were concerned about too many lop-sided mismatches, reinforcing the need to revamp the competition.

Under the new structure, there will be 15 teams, with two cut from South Africa - rumoured to be the Southern Kings and Cheetahs - and one from Australia - either the Western Force of Melbourne Rebels.

Two of the teams introduced last year, Argentina's Jaguares and the Sunwolves of Japan, will remain.

Tew said South Africa had "taken note of reality" by agreeing to reduce its teams from six to four amid financial pressures and difficulty retaining top players.

When the 18-team blueprint was released in 2014, Tew was among those touting the possibility of even more expansion further into Asia and North America.

But he conceded it was now apparent that Super Rugby had been too "bullish" in taking the game to new frontiers 

Tew expressed sympathy for the team's facing the axe.

"Just think about the human element," he said. "You've got fans, you've got established team structures, you've got players and families, there's a whole lot of stuff going on."

Agence France-Presse

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10