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, 23 June 2017
South Africa A v French Barbarians 18h00 Orlando Stadium
Sat, 24 June 2017
Fiji v Scotland 02h30 Suva
Japan v Ireland 04h40 Tokyo
Australia v Italy 05h00 Suncorp Stadium
New Zealand v B&I Lions 07h35 Eden Park
South Africa v France 15h00 Johannesburg
Canada v United States 19h00 Calgary
Argentina v Georgia 19h15 Estadio Ciudad De La Plata
Tue, 27 June 2017
Hurricanes v B&I Lions 07h35 Westpac Stadium
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 13 6 0 7 33
Waratahs 13 4 0 9 19
Force 13 4 0 9 17
Reds 13 3 0 10 17
Rebels 13 1 1 11 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 14 14 0 0 63
Hurricanes 14 11 0 3 54
Chiefs 14 11 1 2 53
Highlanders 14 10 0 4 46
Blues 14 7 1 6 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 0 5 30
Cheetahs 13 3 0 10 16
Bulls 12 3 0 9 15
Sunwolves 12 1 0 11 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 12 0 1 56
Sharks 13 9 1 3 42
Jaguares 12 5 0 7 24
Kings 12 4 0 8 19