Wallabies great Tim Horan has called for Pacific Island nations to be part of a new-look Super Rugby model, with their teams based out of cities in Australia and New Zealand. The SANZAAR competition looks set to undergo a major revamp from next year, with New Zealand Rugby having announced a wholesale review into every aspect following the outbreak of Covid-19.
International travel has been an exorbitant feature of the competition and with many flight paths currently closed off by the coronavirus crisis, there is widespread speculation the teams from South Africa and Argentina will be omitted from an Asia-Pacific model of Super Rugby.
Horan suggested teams from those continents could play in their own conference and potentially meet the best Asia-Pacific teams in a playoff series. The dual World Cup winner told The Breakdown on New Zealand’s Sky TV that Japan would ideally remain involved and eventually the United States should be welcomed.
He also said the Pacific Island teams should finally be given a regular role in a prominent rugby competition, although he accepted they couldn’t be based in their home countries for financial reasons.
“We’ve got to keep supporting them. Whether we potentially have one of them in next year… can you base Tonga in Auckland? Can you base maybe Samoa on the Gold Coast for a period of time? The financial model has to stack up going forward because the broadcast revenue is not going to be there as much as it used to be.”
Could we see @StevenLuatua back in a @BluesRugbyTeam jersey? ? Luatua sat down with The Breakdown tonight to share his goal of reaching the ? game milestone with his former @SuperRugbyNZ team ? pic.twitter.com/vYV9woZL8P
— Sky Sport NZ (@skysportnz) April 28, 2020
Horan added it would be important to retain close ties with South Africa and Argentina at Test level. Meanwhile, the man leading New Zealand’s review, lawyer and Blues chairman Don Mackinnon, said a more localised Super competition will be strongly considered, along with the introduction of the Pacific Islands.
He told Newshub the reopening of trans-Tasman travel may prove to be the core element of any competition revamp. “It could be possibly with or without Australia, depending on the (travel) bubble that is being talked about,” Mackinnon said. “A whole lot of issues flow from that, but that’s probably the most obvious immediate change we need to consider.”
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