Rugby: SANZAAR faces axe as details of NZ Rugby's 'Aratipu' review emerge

Southern hemisphere rugby could be set for a major shakeup, with doubts emerging over the ongoing existence of SANZAAR. 

Sources tell Newshub that the governing body could disband altogether to leave international unions to go it alone in one of a handful of key recommendations to come from the 'Aratipu' report, commissioned by NZ Rugby in April. 

Newshub can reveal that SANZAAR's days of running the competition appear to be over from next year. 

As it stands, Super Rugby involves teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina. 

The draft 'Aratipu' review recommends major changes from 2021 - namely a trans-Tasman competition with the addition of a team from the Pacific. 

Without teams from South Africa and Argentina, SANZAAR's governance of the competition would inevitably cease.

The proposed changes to the competition have been welcomed by those involved. 

"As long as it keeps the qualities that are making this competition really successful - strong teams right across the board, strong games," says Blues coach Leon MacDonald.

"There's a little bit of a recipe here that, as long as they don't deviate too far away, would be well received."

But the 'Aratipu' review highlights the need for Super Rugby to be a feeder into something with much broader international appeal. 

It's understood the missing piece to the Super Rugby puzzle was identified by review chair Don Mackinnon from the outset.

"Do we look at a Heineken Cup-type playoff model in the short-to-medium term, whereby we're looking at the best of the best playing," Mackinnon wondered at the review announcement in April. 

Three-time champion Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has also expressed his desire for something more for the Super Rugby winners. 

"I love the idea of how we can connect up, if we have a competition down here and then we can link to the north," Robertson suggested in May. "That would make it pretty special." 

SANZAAR's sole purpose moving forward would be to oversee the Rugby Championship, but latest developments suggest that after quarter of a century, southern hemisphere rugby's united front could soon be over.

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