From 2021 there will be no more Super Rugby

Forum » Rugby » From 2021 there will be no more Super Rugby

Jul 17, 2020, 17:55

The following article makes the position clear:-

New Zealand Rugby’s announcement earlier today that their Super Rugby future lay within the Australasia-Pacific region is the first concrete indication South Africa’s big rugby franchises will, possibly from next year, play in Europe, in PRO rugby.

Rumours have been doing the rounds for a while that Super Rugby – as we know it, and how it has involved, mainly, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa over the last 25 years – is dead.

Following an extensive review process undertaken by New Zealand rugby authorities, and announced to the world today, it seems New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams will align with their Australian counterparts, and include a team (or teams) from the Pacific islands to form a new inter-provincial competition from as early as 2021.

“Coming on the back of Covid-19 and its impact on future competitons, the NZR Board has committed to establishing a new professional team competition in 2021. We have also been heartened by the success of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa (in the recent weeks),” said NZR CEO Mark Robinson.

“The focus is now on confirming the licences for New Zealand's five current Super Rugby franchises and that work is now under way.  We have highly valued the partnership with these five teams over the last 25 years of the competition and want that to continue,” he said.

Robinson added a breakaway from the current Super Rugby model would allow a team from either Tonga, Samoa or Fiji to enter the market.

“There is a huge desire to have a Pasifika team involved which we think will be massive for the competition, popular with fans and is a priority for us,” said Robinson. “As we know, our Pacific nations and Pasifika players in New Zealand have added so much to the rich history of rugby in Oceania and our game here in New Zealand. To have a team that would provide an additional pathway for Pasifika players to perform on the world stage would be hugely exciting.”

Robinson added NZR would talk to Rugby Australia to find out about their franchise’s needs and wants going forward. “We are excited and interested to see what our Australian neighbours will bring to this competition." 

While nothing had been decided on the number of teams to play in a new-look Super Rugby competition Down Under, Robinson said he hoped to stage something with eight to 10 teams. “We want teams that are competitive and that fans will want to watch go head to head, week in, week out.”

South Africa’s future then almost is guaranteed to be in Europe. Indications have been strong for a while that, for financial reasons and the better travel requirements and time zones, the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions could join Pro rugby. If they do, the competition could expand from its current 14 teams to 20, or it could be an 18-team competition, were the Cheetahs and Kings to fall out, as has been suggested in some quarters.

Just two weeks ago, in Rapport, Cheetahs MD Harold Verster, wasn’t able to give any assurances that his team would be guaranteed a place in PRO rugby beyond 2022.

Discussions between South African rugby bosses and PRO rugby about six local franchises playing in Europe from next year are believed to be at an advanced stage.

 No more Super Rugby and now we will be forced to watch the dreary UK Rugby, 

Jul 17, 2020, 18:36

The travel requirements have always been a problem - and only worsened after Super12 expansion.  

Corona is a big factor over the next few years- and it does not help with the increase in infection rate in SA and South America. 

Being involved in Europe could also lead to more business opportunities in SA, just from more contact. 

Jul 17, 2020, 20:12

Pacifica this.....Pacifica that. Screw them!

Jul 17, 2020, 23:43

NZ will loose a huge amount of money every year from Supersport when they opt out of Sanzaar and that is not going to help them much.   Australia will be in worse financial trouble than they already are.  

Jul 18, 2020, 00:52

SA may have been about to leave. Who knows what has been discussed and agreed behind the scenes.
Perhaps it was mutual. New Zealand would certainly have preferred competition from SA- but the distance is so far. 

I think SA might have been caught between a rock and a hard place- and stuck in the decision- going around in circles. Maybe SA wanted more teams in Pro14+, with less in SuperRugby. 

SuperRugby has deteriorated into crap.
With more teams- as well as players leaving for Northern Hemisphere - the depth is no longer super. 

It does leave SA in a weak position to bargain with the Northern Hemisphere. They now hold all of the cards. 

As for Argentina,  they are toast. Waited so long to get the opportunity for SuperRugby and 4 nations....
It does raise questions if the 4 nations is going to continue...although I expect that will be negotiated at a later stage - post Corona. 

Jul 18, 2020, 11:13

Super Rugby had financial benefits for Australia and New Zealand which will vanish now.    SA has much more to offer the UK and France than you accept.   Negotiations has been ongoing and the NH clubs will not be to keen to take on SA Sides in their competitions.  

In any event we will have to wait and see what happens .next.   Decisions will have to be taken soon - since the  NH competitions start in a months time or so.        

Jul 18, 2020, 11:40

I've no ill will towards Super Rugby but I'll happily welcome more South African teams to the Pro 14. I think the addition of the 4th current South African super rugby teams to the Pro 14 would make it the strongest rugby league in Europe.

In addition if I was SA rugby I'd strongly push to be eligible to qualify to play in the European Cup. This way South African teams have a chance to also pit themselves against the best in England and France.

That will be somewhat tricky as though I'm sure the Pro 14 (or whatever it will be called) would be happy to allow it, its up to the powers that be in England and France to decide if they want you in that tournament as well. They might not be thrilled with the idea of traveling to SA for away games.

Interesting times ahead.

Jul 18, 2020, 14:17


I wanted to insert a sentence about the European Cup bit thought it would be about far-fetched.:D

I think it would be better to re-structure of the GP14 on a pool basis with 4 teams in a pool and each side must play pool games home and away.   

That would mean each pool would have 12 games per team and then their would be the play-offs - meaning that in a season a maximum of 16 games would be played per team in a season,  

Jul 18, 2020, 16:31

So I assume your expecting the Cheetahs and the Kings to be cut. Would be rather harsh on the Cheetahs.

As it stands in the Pro 14, you play each team in your conference home and way and each team in the other conference once (with home and away alternating each year). In addition Ireland and Wales play 2 additional  matches again the two teams from the same nation in the other conference while South Africa, Italy and Scotland play two additional games with the team from the same nation in the opposing conference, this was done to ensure the traditional derby games where protected.

Gives a regular season of at least 21 games, and potentially 3 more games the quarter finalists and potentially 2 more for the semi finalists.

Getting rid of the Kings and the Cheetahs I suppose a similar set up could be used with two conference of 8, with the Derby games now working the same for SA teams as they do for Irish and Welsh teams. Season would increase to 24 games in a regular season. I think that's now the very upper limit of how many games can be played in a season but might just be viable.

If they are keeping the Cheetahs and the Kings they are going to have come up with some other system. I don't conferences are well liked but a two conference system is tolerable, I don't think a three conference system is and would probably just be a repeat of the mistake Super Rugby made.

Jul 18, 2020, 18:29

Super Rugby should have had 1 team from Argintina. 3 from Oz and four each from SA and nz. 12 teams. That would have worked fine. 

Between France and the UK 6 SA sides could be accommodated and will enrich the competitions. 

The money should be a lot better, as will travel and the ability to retain our players. 

Oz rugby  is suffering after the disastrous efforts of nz goth woman Raylene and the spectacle of that great player and great man Falau being fired. 

The poor kiwi bird brains will be left financially strapped and playing against themselves. Too much ballerina rugby will soon become a total bore and they will turn to watching NH  rugby and in particular the very dynamic SA sides and their awe inspiring rolling mauls. 

The kiwis will console themselves watching replays of who had the best hahahahaka! 



Jul 18, 2020, 18:45

If South Africa shifts north Europe,  as in soccer, will become the epicenter. Money will be vastly bigger....the best NZ players will be caught in a vice of  income vs national Jersey.


Jul 18, 2020, 19:07

Folk will be asking who are the wee abs in years to come! ??

 The wee abs and the Pacific Ilanders - enjoy!

JW time you started supporting the Mighty Stormers. 

Jul 18, 2020, 22:42

It could turn into touch rugby without the physicality of South Africa. :D  The SA cheerleaders could bully the Australian SuperXV teams.

It is not clear how much preparation for test rugby it will be...

The tournament will need to find more sponsors without SA paying 75% of the revenue. Surely Japan is a better option than the Pacific Islands who will probably not have enough money for a decent team. Although maybe New Zealand and Australia will sponsor one of the teams to plunder and raid their talent before young players are capped. 

Jul 19, 2020, 08:53

The following statement was issued by SA Rugby:-

SA Rugby says it has been "kept abreast" of plans for a new-look Super Rugby competition that could exclude the South African franchises. 

This comes after New Zealand Rugby on Friday announced plans to enter its five franchises into a new version of the tournament from 2021 that would exclude participating sides from both South Africa and Argentina. 

Nothing has been officially confirmed yet, but the announcement made New Zealand's position on the need to move the tournament forward without South Africa very clear. 

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux is expected to hold a press conference next week where further information is expected, but on Friday the organisation released a short statement in response to the news out of New Zealand, acknowledging that it had been informed of New Zealand's plans. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive human impact and, in our sport, has asked fundamental questions of the viability of competitions and fixture scheduling," the statement read. 

"SA Rugby has been kept abreast of the thinking in New Zealand and of the outcomes of the Aratipu Report to address the immediate challenges of travel restrictions that may stretch into 2021.

"As part of the SANZAAR joint venture we will be examining how the mooted new competition will fit into the existing contracted competitions."

While competitive rugby has returned in both New Zealand and Australia, South Africa's professional sides were only confirmed to be back at training from Friday as the country navigates its way through the coronavirus pandemic."

We will probably get more clarity before the end of the week as to hat is happening,   

Jul 19, 2020, 09:08


As far as I could make out Supersport's to the costs of the competition was $1,6 billion.  Foxsport has withdrawn from sponsoring rugby in Australia.   the contribution to SA Rugby was $600 million - the other money went to Australasia, Argentina and  Japan - with the bulk being shared by Australia and New Zealand, 

The Aussies and Australia would have to find a nice sponsor or sponsors for about $1 billion and they will find it a hard one to overcome.   In Australia rugby is a minor sport and New Zealand is a small country with a small population.   So where will the $1 billion come from?  



Jul 19, 2020, 11:51

$1.6 billion, that's a staggering number. Over how many years was that spread out?

Jul 19, 2020, 12:25


It is spread over four years - that is the contract period for each cycle of Super Rugby.   The latest cycle ran from  2016 to 2020.  

As SB said they covered 75% of the cost of the tournament.    Natpers - the owner of Supersport - is particularly active in China, Scandinavia and Russia and in various other countries,  In China they have a 30% in Tencent - the biggest cell phone market in the world.  

Natpers is quoted both on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Amsterdam.   One of the major shareholders is Johann Rupert - who made a R1 billion donation to help small companies survive in the coronavirus pandemic,  Rupert and his partner Motsepe - the brother-in-law of President Ramaphosa who also donated R1 billion  for the same purpose - own 74,5% of the Bulls Rugby Club.

Rupert also appointed Schalk Burger to co-ordinates him and Motsepe's rugby activities - huge influence in SA Rugby as well.              

Jul 19, 2020, 12:39

I don't know what to recommend to my kiwi friends. 

Their rugby is doomed and there isn't much else they are vaguely good at BUT! - How about dancing. I am basing my assessment of talent on the hahahahaka!

Psst kbbs put Raylene in charge of your rugby finances! 

Jul 19, 2020, 14:17

Do SA Super Rugby teams not get a significant cut off that money? Whats the yearly operating budget of the SA Super Rugby teams?

Like that amount of money sounds well beyond what we have up north, so one wonders why the constant migration up north of South African players for a better pay check.

Jul 19, 2020, 16:07

The cost of operating the matches is very high- especially with regard to travel and accommodation.

South Africa has a weird system.   Sport is run by SARU with two arms - the professional one on one side and amateur club rugby on the other side,   The Board is made up of amateurs - so the clubs get most of the money - while the professional arm is neglected.     

Jul 20, 2020, 12:55

Well, I will not get too carried away about our prospect of playing in Europe. A lot of teams in the UK have gotten rid of a lot of players and reducing their wages. 

It is an extremely long season for bot the UK and French teams given that they play 4 competitions at the same time. 

They simply have to do it in order to survive. A club Leicester would normally play 35 games a season. 

That said, the French and English clubs have moaned for a while about Lenister and Munster winning most European championship because they have fewer games. 

Not sure how they will allow SA teams to get involved given that I can't see our teams play more than 18 to 20 games vs 35 

Although, it would be great to see them play in the cup games instead as some of the top teams are worth watching

Further, I think a lot more players in NZ will opt to go abroad to make some money. Hopefully if SA rugby can get a cash injection that we will be able to bring our best players home again 

Jul 20, 2020, 13:34

Given my great compassion for the kbbs, I suggest in good faith that they reconsider the folly of their ways. 

Where is Justin Marshall when you need him. 

Jul 20, 2020, 14:48

There is no chance South African teams will be allowed into the English and French domestic leagues. They have never expressed any desire to expand their leagues and as kingcorn said they already have an incredible congested seasons. Not to mention the 2nd divisions in both countries would likely protest foreign teams being parachuted into the leagues above them as well.

Yeah the English and to a lesser extent French have complained that the Irish team have an advantage in the Champions cup because the Irish teams rest their star players more often and focus on the Champions Cup over the Pro 14. But then again the English have a massive inherent advantage in the player pool to chose from and some of the French Club operate on a larger budget than the the Irish national and 4 provincial teams combined they can go moan somewhere else.

Leinster are a bit of a freak job in terms of being in the province with a decent size population and have one of the best academy systems in the world. They also operate on a budget only slightly less than the UK teams though.

I'd be all for the SA teams been given the chance to qualify for the Champions Cup. Would really make the top 6 qualifying spots very competitive.

Jul 20, 2020, 15:58


I saw an article somewhere where a suggestion is is made to exclude all SA teams from the PRO14 (also the Cheetahs and Kings) and reduce the number of competing teams to 12,    Do you think that would happen?


Jul 20, 2020, 17:05

Where did you see that?

Well the Pro 12 is what we had before the Cheetahs and Kings joined, but I've heard nothing about returning to it.

There was suggestions earlier in the year with CVC buying an equal 28% share in both the Gallagher Premiership and the Pro 14 the two leagues might merge and form a British and Irish league with  the Italians left out and I would assume the South African teams as well. Such a move might be popular with the Welsh fans who for various reasons have never been overly enamored with the Celtic League/Pro12/Pro 14.

I'd say the Pro 14 would prefer going the route of including the South African teams, it would improve the standard of its league while the Pro 14 wouldn't have to risk becoming the junior partner in any potential merger.

Jul 21, 2020, 23:13

If there was no prior discussion, this decision seems very abrupt....literally throwing South African rugby under the bus. A change of this magnitude should probably have been made with 3 years notice, which would have given South Africa a better bargaining position going up north.

Does this also end the Rugby Cup....does the Southern Hemisphere still have winter in July?

Jul 22, 2020, 09:26

It looks to be a short term solution until the Covid issue has been resolved....lets wait and see what's in the pipeline.

Jul 22, 2020, 12:33

Now - we still have not got the full picture of what NZ and Australia have in mind.   There program for 2021 entails no  inclusion of SA in the Super Series based entirely on the Covid 19 problem - but no real plan after that.   They seems to believe that SA will struggle to get the pandemic under control before 2021.   Everybody hopes that a vaccine will be available by early 2021 and that from that year normal rugby will be played again. 

We will have to see whether SA will buy into that story,

Jul 23, 2020, 15:29

Super rugby without SA sides in it will kill off the competition. The Kiwi’s are obviously too fucking stupid to pick up on this fact.

As originally planned the Super rugby competition should have been overhauled doing away with the stupid conference system and getting back to each side playing every other side, getting rid of the stupid schedule where the local sides play eachother twice home and away.

Unfortunately the alternative for SA sides looks like a very poor option. The Pro 14 is a crap competition that excludes English and French clubs and the Irish and Welsh sides tend to often play their reserve players in this competition - evidencing the low value placed on it

It’s one big fuck up all round for SA rugby

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