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New Zealand clubs push to shake up Super Rugby

Super Rugby has been through a number of changes during its 25-year history © AFP / Patrick HAMILTON

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Apr 27 – New Zealand’s five Super Rugby clubs eyed a shake-up of the competition Monday, announcing a review they say is designed to keep it relevant and sustainable.

New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson said the review will look at a range of options that would be beneficial for New Zealand, while remaining committed to Super Rugby’s governing body, SANZAAR, and its broadcast partners “for the next five years”.

“The review is about ensuring our Super Rugby remains relevant, sustainable and our fans are entertained and engaged,” he said.

The 25-year-old competition, currently involving 15 teams and spread over 16 time zones and five countries, has been widely criticised for its unwieldy and frequently changed format.

Robinson said a recent study had highlighted areas of opportunity for Super Rugby in terms of revenue and cost and “we are now also factoring in the impact of COVID-19 to look at a range of scenarios for the clubs and competition”.

The review, called Aratipu, the indigenous Maori word for “growth”, will be conducted by representatives of the five New Zealand Super Rugby clubs and their stakeholders.

The Auckland Blues’ delegate on the review committee, Don MacKinnon, said the ongoing suspension for COVID-19 presented an ideal opportunity to reshape New Zealand’s role for the next 25 years.

The impact of the virus “means we need to take a broader look at how we continue the 25-year legacy of Super Rugby for New Zealand”, he said.

“The scope of Aratipu will include the New Zealand Super Rugby competition — local and offshore — clarify Super Rugby’s role in the domestic high-performance pathway, review the ownership and equity structure, and digital rights.

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“We will consult widely and think broadly.”

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