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Super Rugby boss rules out Japan or US teams

By AAP
(Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos has ruled out involvement by teams from Japan or the US in Super Rugby in the near future, saying fans want consistency in the competition.

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The chairman of Japan’s Top League Genichi Tamatsuka floated to AAP the idea of a cross-over tournament with Australian and New Zealand teams which would help boost the local coffers.

The proposal followed a stand-off between RA and their Kiwi counterparts, with Australian chair Hamish McLennan threatening to walk away at the end of current contract in 2023 with the uneven split of broadcast dollars a sticking point.

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Announcing the competition draw on Sunday, the parties declared they were back at the negotiating table ready to nut out an agreement for the competition’s future beyond next year.

“We’re both committed to continue to grow rugby across the Asia-Pacific region, we’re speaking all the time, and we’re pretty confident we’re going to get to a resolution pretty soon,” Marinos told reporters.

Having seen Super Rugby’s popularity wane in the last decade with teams dropping in and out, Marinos said while involvement from Japan and the US – who will host the 2031 Rugby World – was enticing, it was time to consolidate the current 12-team competition.

“Growing new markets are very much part of our longer-term thinking,” Marinos said on Monday.

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“But with all the dislocation we’ve had in Super Rugby – the separation from South African and Argentinians and the fact that next year will hopefully be the first year of Super Rugby Pacific not impacted by other forces (COVID-19).

“We really want to settle in and bed this competition model and structure down before we start looking to quickly evolve and expand.

“That’s been a criticism… where the old Super Rugby competition continually felt needed to expand and add while the fans just wanted consistency in format and performance.”

The Waratahs were the surprise packets of the 2021 competition making the quarter-finals under new coach Darren Coleman after failing to win a match in 2020.

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Playing all home games at the rebuilt Allianz Stadium after four years away, Waratahs CEO Paul Doorn said they were targeting a top-four spot.

“We see ourselves next year going to the next level and improving on 2021 and that’s top four,” Doorn said on Monday.

“It’s a big step up from where we finished last year but you can see that the home ground advantage in the first week of finals makes a substantial difference so that’s the goal we’ve set ourselves.”

Doorn told reporters they were in talks with Allianz officials to remove seats at one end of the ground to create a party zone on the hill, which proved a success at their temporary home at Leichhardt Oval last season.

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