Super Rugby: Australia poised to reject NZR's proposed trans-Tasman, Pacific model

Australia seems poised to reject a proposed trans-Tasman Super Rugby format and create its own professional competition.

This week, Newshub revealed NZ rugby's 'Aratipu' review had recommended replacing the current SANZAAR model with one consisting of New Zealand, Australian and Pacific Island teams.

But the Sydney Morning Herald reports that at least half the NZR board favour an eight-team competition with the five existing Kiwi franchises, a new Pacific entry, but only two Aussie sides.

That hasn't gone down well with Rugby Australia, which apparently spurned a three-team option earlier this year.

Sources have told the SMH that the balance of the NZR board prefers a 10-team, but if the more limited proposal wins out, the Aussies would have no option but to devise their own model based on the Big Bash cricket concept.

The Australian teams would open up their rosters to players from South Africa, Argentina and Japan, who would no longer have teams in the southern hemisphere competition. 

The SMH reports a planned conference call among the 10 NZ and Australian Super Rugby chief executives has been postponed indefinitely, adding to the suspicion across the Tasman, where retaining current teams is seen as crucial to the code's survival.

A potential stand-off over the future of Super Rugby is further exacerbated by uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit South Africa hard and threatens a second wave in Australia.

New Zealand and Australia have already begun their own domestic versions, and may have to extend those into next year, while the world continues to battle the coronavirus.   

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Super Rugby: Australia poised to reject NZR's proposed trans-Tasman, Pacific model