After around 25 years, South African Rugby looks likely to leave Super Rugby for good & head towards Europe.
They will expand their sides from two to four, which will plan to become PRO 16 & play in the summer months.
It’s easy to say that The Sharks in Durban, Bulls in Pretoria, Lions in Johannesburg & Stormers in Cape Town are the frontrunners.
So pretty much well-known teams played Super Rugby for a long time & ready to play up north rather than stay south.
We all know that the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth are broke and can’t resume playing PRO 14 forever.
The only question mark will be what will happen to the Cheetahs if SA Rugby can only squeeze in just four instead of five?
The Bloemfontein-based team deserves something better to keep playing in a thoroughly professional competition, dumped by Super Rugby at the end of 2017.
And now it’s going to be a hard decision to make.
But sacrificing quantity for these soon to be former Super Rugby teams facing the elite European sides is doable.
Will this boost every South African team’s chances on a level-playing field of winning the PRO 16 tournament?
Though, the question is, what will happen if these SA sides do play either the European Champions Cup/Challenge Cup/Continental Shield competition.
The long-running domestic Currie Cup competition will be unaffected during the second half of each season.
If not, do we see the two best SA sides end up in the PRO 16 first qualify for the proposed Super 8 Intercontential tournament v two best New Zealand, Australian & Argentine & Japanese team?
SA Rugby, SANZAAR & the European Rugby governing body would need to consider integrating the current SA Super Rugby sides into the PRO 16 competition ASAP.
For now, it will be sad to see SA Rugby leave Super Rugby after a half a century battling the Australian and New Zealand teams to see who is the best of the rest in the Southern Hemisphere.
They’re the only organizing body to give SANZAAR its lifeblood thanks to the big TV money from SuperSport.
But realistically, the quality of the Super Rugby competition combined with low crowds, long travel trips & TV ratings would see South Africa split from their Southern Hemisphere cousins.
And the Australian and New Zealand standalone competitions have worked this term anyway, with local derbies played twice every weekend a great way to gather national interest.
We don’t know how will Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby do about for 2021.
Either a Trans-Tasman format or having a separate eight-team competition is one of their two long-term solutions that will benefit fans, players & broadcasters.
Plus, no more split or difficult random time zones to tune in like me, who currently lives in Sydney, Australia.
Overall, with SA Rugby teams gone from Super Rugby & do wish them well. A regular close Trans-Tasman or state-based rivalry is what I’m comfortable in the hope of finally answering one of Rugby Australia’s long-running issues.