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, 26 May 2017
Blues v Chiefs 07h45 Auckland
Reds v Force 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 27 May 2017
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 05h15 Tokyo
Highlanders v Waratahs 07h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Crusaders 09h45 Melbourne
Bulls v Hurricanes 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13h30 London
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Kings Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h15 Dublin
Jaguares v Brumbies 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 12h30 Ellis Park Stadium
Wed, 31 May 2017
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 11 4 0 7 23
Waratahs 11 4 0 7 19
Reds 11 3 0 8 16
Force 11 3 0 8 13
Rebels 11 1 1 9 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 12 0 0 54
Hurricanes 11 9 0 2 43
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 43
Highlanders 12 9 0 3 41
Blues 12 6 0 6 31
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 11 7 0 4 30
Bulls 11 3 0 8 15
Cheetahs 12 2 0 10 11
Sunwolves 11 1 0 10 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 11 0 1 51
Sharks 12 8 1 3 38
Jaguares 11 5 0 6 24
Kings 11 4 0 7 19