SYDNEY, Australia, Apr 9 – Two South African teams and one from Australia will be axed from the 2018 Super Rugby competition, governing body SANZAAR said on Sunday.
The current 18-team competition will be streamlined to a three conference, 15-team format with five teams from New Zealand, four from Australia, four from South Africa, one from Japan and one from Argentina, SANZAAR said.
SANZAAR has left it to the national rugby unions involved to announce the teams to be cut, although Australia’s Western Force and South Africa’s Southern Kings and Central Cheetahs are widely regarded as the most vulnerable franchises.
The drastic restructure comes amid financial losses and fan discontent over the confusing and unbalanced competition.
With games played in cities straddling 17 time zones, travel schedules can be intense, while the quality of play has been criticised and the tournament is also hard for fans to follow.
Argentina’s Jaguares and the Sunwolves of Japan, admitted last year along with the Kings, will stay in the revamped 15-team Super Rugby tournament.
“This assessment highlighted a need to adjust and strengthen Super Rugby in the short-term to ensure a robust and sustainable tournament meets the requirements of all stakeholders in terms of high performance pathways, game development, commercial revenue and fan engagement,” SANZAAR said in a statement.