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Australian teams concerned over Sunwolves


Australian teams have concerns over Sunwolves' demise

NSW coach Daryl Gibson has expressed concern that the sounding of the Super Rugby death knell on the Sunwolves could lead to less games for the Waratahs.

“We need rugby. That’s the important thing,” Gibson said ahead of Friday’s expected announcement from SANZAAR that the Tokyo-based franchise will be cut with the competition to revert to 14 teams from 2021.

A 14-team competition – after the completion of the current broadcast deal in 2020 – would likely result in a return to a round-robin format, also marking the end of the unpopular conference system.

But such a development would also mean the Waratahs – and all other teams – would only play 14 games during the home-and-away campaign, rather than the 16 they’ll play this season.

“It’s hard to say what the format is going to be. Is it going to be a round robin, is it going to be biannual home and away, who knows?” Gibson said.

“It’s certainly been a big issue for the competition in making sure the format is correct and that we do have a format where you’re not away from your home base for, say, four or five weeks on end.”

As will be the case this year when the Waratahs go four weeks between home games during a three-game spell in South Africa and Queensland.

Gibson said NSW Rugby had always supported the Sunwolves’ inclusion in the competition and would like the states to have more of a say in the running of the competition.

Having played the Sunwolves in Tokyo three weeks ago, he felt Japanese rugby fans had embraced the expansion franchise.

“They’re getting excellent support,” Gibson said.

“The crowd numbers have probably gone through that period where you’ve got an expansion team trying to forge a new market and that’s something the four franchises here in Australia have done well in establishing with them.”

SANZAAR said in a statement on Wednesday it would make an announcement on the future format of Super Rugby on Friday at 2pm ( ADET).

The announcement is again expected to come via a press release, rather than a media conference.

Queensland Reds utility back Isaac Lucas:

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Australian teams have concerns over Sunwolves' demise