Super Rugby Aotearoa: Revamped competition could stay for 2021 season

Super Rugby Aotearoa was created to fill a temporary void left by the COVID-19 pandemic - but the NZ-only competition could continue beyond 2020.

Newshub can reveal the worsening coronavirus situation in Australia is causing a major rethink between the respective unions and Sanzaar over the future of Super Rugby.

That could see the proposed trans-Tasman competition put on hold.

The revamped domestic format has breathed new life into a competition that had long struggled for engagement.

"Of the 48-odd match, I think most of them have been won by a matter of inches and I think that's been really, really exciting," says Crusaders chief executive Colin Mansbridge.

But Super Rugby Aotearoa was only ever intended to fill a temporary gap, with NZ Rugby preferring an 8-10 team trans-Tasman competition from next year.

But those hopes are fading further and further from reality, as Australia's COVID-19 crisis worsens.

Newshub understands Sanzaar and the respective unions have met to discuss several options, including both Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU continuing as they are, but in a longer format.

Chiefs are still winless in Super Rugby Aotearoa
Chiefs are still winless in Super Rugby Aotearoa. Photo credit: Photosport

Or if a trans-Tasman competition remained a viable option, they could follow the NRL's lead and base all teams in one country.

"If borders don't allow that to happen, the you have to be able to go to Plan B," says Mansbridge. "Plan B is you've got what we've got, which isn't a bad Plan B."

But the toll of Super Rugby Aotearoa is being felt by the players. Forty-five are injured across the five franchises and changes to the format are being encouraged, if the competition is to continue.

Crusaders first-five Richie Mo'unga has a simple solution.

"Maybe another bye," he suggests.

"The tanks run out very quickly," adds Mansbridge. 

 But players may need to get used to it, with the coronavirus crisis leaving unions with few other options.

Join us at 7pm Saturday for live updates of the Hurricanes v Chiefs Super Rugby Aotearoa clash

Super Rugby Aotearoa: Revamped competition could stay for 2021 season