Tokyo, LA on Super 15 radar: SANZAR - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tokyo, LA on Super 15 radar: SANZAR

18/07/2008 07:55:55 PM Comments (0)

Tokyo or Los Angeles could be part of a Super 15 by 2010 but the first step in spicing up Super rugby will be a six-team finals series from next year.

The Super 14's governing body SANZAR, made up of Australian, New Zealand and South African officials, announced the move as they eye a new broadcast deal from 2011.

The shift, which still needs to be rubber-stamped by each country's national body, will replace the current four-team playoff format, although the details of how it will work are yet to be nutted out.

"One of the ideas that we've been contemplating is going to a divisional or conference type structure which would ensure a finalist or a top six position for each of the countries," South African SANZAR boss Jonathan Stones said.

The move has come out of a three-day SANZAR workshop in Perth ahead of Saturday's Tri-Nations clash between Australia and South Africa.

Australian rugby supremo John O'Neill said further steps in revamping both the Super 14 and Tri-Nations were also on the agenda.

"Perhaps as early as 2010 you could see an expanded Super rugby competition," he said.

"We're taking the approach (that) nothing's in, nothing's out and there's the opportunity to bring additional teams in from the current territories ... or, given some of the conversations we've had with countries like USA and Japan, you wouldn't exclude Super rugby teams being located in say Tokyo or Los Angeles.

"The work going forward will be about timeframes and it might be you go to a Super 15 in a reasonably short timeframe and then aim to go to something like a Super 18 in a further period.

"The work that will be done in the next couple of months will get us to a point where on the same page ... and then able to talk to broadcasters and other important stakeholders.

"I think in the next four or five years you'll see a transformed Super rugby environment and possibly a transformed Tri-Nations environment."

Whether an expanded Tri-Nations would include emerging southern hemisphere powerhouse Argentina, though, remains to be seen.

"We've got to paint the reality picture here," NZRU boss Steve Tew said.

"They've got to be able to get their players out of the clubs in France in particular or they're not going to be competitive and that won't do them any good either."

Stones said the possibility of "accelerating" a new TV deal to bankroll southern hemisphere rugby had also been discussed.

Meanwhile, relations between SANZAR and the European unions - already strained by disagreements over the trialling of rugby's experimental laws - appear to have reached a new low over northern hemisphere sides sending second rate touring sides to play Test matches.

"There have been efforts made ... to ensure the sides that come south in the June window are the best sides available. We haven't seen manifestation of that yet," Stones said.

Asked if SANZAR's patience was running out, he said: "At some stage it has to."

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