SANZAR keen to get Argentina in Super Rugby

Super Rugby organisers SANZAR have confirmed that they are considering proposals to include an Argentinean team in an expanded tournament.

The current broadcast deal expires at the end of the 2015 season and a new deal will be in place for the 2016.

The tournament’s expansion is being driven by South Africa’s insistence on having six teams in Super Rugby instead of the current five teams from each nation as it is now.

The situation has been created by political pressure within South Africa which has led to the creation of the Southern Kings.

As South Africa only have five spaces currently the Southern Kings replaced the Lions for the 2013 Super Rugby season and the Kings will sit out 2014.

The Kings are expected to play a series of promotion relegation matches with the lowest placed South African team at the end of next season to determine who will play in the 2015 tournament.

Earlier this week the NZHerald reported that New Zealand coaches were backing the idea of a Pacific Islands team based in Auckland and a Japanese team based in Australia could take the number of teams to 18 in 2016.

Instead of the current three conference model a two conference model is on the table and is SANZAR’s preferred plan.

SANZAR CEO Greg Peters says that while the two-conference model was their preference, the other guiding principle was the inclusion of a franchise based in Argentina.

Logistically speaking adding another Super Rugby team in an area nowhere near the other participants is easier said than done.

“There have been two cornerstones that we have been guided by, one is that South Africa will have six teams and the second is that we’ll use our best endeavours to include Argentina if that’s at all possible,” he told the NZHerald.

Peters said that he had not yet seen the proposal that included Pacific Islands and Japanese teams.

“The models we’re working on endeavour to include Argentina because they play in one of our competitions now and it’s logical to include them in the other one to create a professional rugby base for the future development of professional players out of Argentina,” Peters said.

“They would come through to the Pumas and the Rugby Championship. That is not without its logistical and geographical problems, but we are endeavouring to include them if at all possible.”

One of the major concerns for SANZAR is increasing the amount of travel that players have to do in the Super Rugby season and including a team based in Argentina would significantly increase the travel.

“The problem for us is one of our primary considerations is player welfare, we’re not extending the number of weeks (of the competition), there’s no doubt about that,” Peters said.

“We are also concerned about the integrity of the competition and how that might be viewed by fans,” added Peters.

“In an ideal world, and unfortunately we aren’t operating in an ideal world, every team would play everyone else.

“Under the constraints of the weeks available, the desire to retain the derby matches, player welfare and ideally reducing the travel component, that’s not possible.”

“It’s not possible under 15 teams (currently) so it’s therefore not possible with more teams.”

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