Singapore in line to join Super Rugby in 2016

Singapore has emerged as the favourite Asian region to be included in an expanded 18 team Super Rugby tournament from 2016.

SANZAR are looking at proposals to expand Super Rugby after the current broadcast deal expires at the end of 2015.

A sixth South African team the Southern Kings has been promised and SANZAR are looking at ways to include Argentina.

SANZAR announced last month that they had agreed on a proposed format but that it needed approval from the Unions.

The inclusion of the Kings and the team from Argentina would take the number of teams in Super Rugby from 15 to 17 which is not divisible by three for the current conference format.

SANZAR have suggested that the current format would be amended and the conferences might not have equal numbers in them.

The inclusion of an Asian team would however boost the number of teams to 18 which is divisible by three so each conference could have six teams.

Japan has long been regarded as the favourite Asian team to be included in Super Rugby in the future while Hong Kong has also been linked to expansion due to their highly successful sevens history.

However The Australian reports that Singapore has emerged as the leading Asian Super Rugby destination.

The Rugby in Singapore is not as strong as in Hong Kong or Japan but there is a national competition.

The case for Singapore being included in Super Rugby has been boosted by the construction of the Singapore Sports Hub, which will feature the 55,000-seat National Stadium.

The hub will open in June and host a wide range of sports, including rugby, tennis, soccer, swimming and badminton.

Singapore’s bid to be included in Super Rugby is understood to have strong financial backing by the city-state which is one of the world’s leading commercial hubs.

Super Rugby has always been a Southern Hemisphere tournament since it’s inception in 1996 and Singapore, which share’s the same time zone as Perth, is 137km north of the equator so it would make the tournament a cross hemisphere tournament.

The Australian understands that SANZAR’s proposed 18 team model has been designed to accommodate further expansion in 2021 when further teams from Asia and North America will be considered.

The South African Rugby Union will consider the proposed model on Thursday but it would have to be ratified by SARU’s general council.

The South Africans are not in favour of the extra home derbies and would prefer a format that sees every team playing each other.

SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters refused to comment on the potential inclusion of Singapore before the SANZAR partners had considered the model.

“As the CEO of the joint venture, it would be inappropriate of me to comment until all three partners have had the opportunity to consider the model in front of them,” Peters told The Australian.

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