Super Rugby 2021: Trans-Tasman bubble essential for success of NZ-Australia format

NZ Super Rugby sides will play an additional five games against Australian opponents on top of Super Rugby Aoteaora next year.

A crossover tournament at the conclusion of the respective domestic competitions has been confirmed, with teams playing their counterparts from across the ditch, before the top two play a final.

But without an NZ-Australia travel bubble, the entire concept may still fall flat.

In a year when trans-Tasman tensions reached new heights, the rivals are presenting a united front and a resolution for Super Rugby next year.

"This is sort of like icing on the cake," says NZ rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

Says Blues CEO Andrew Hore: "Absolutely delighted."

Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge: "Stoked."

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman will feature all five Australian sides playing all five New Zealand sides.

Every team will get two home matches, with one round to be played at a neutral venue, before the top two teams meet in a final.

"It's critical that we make it a fantastic starting point and then we see what happens from there," says Robinson.

But the entire concept relies on a trans-Tasman bubble.

Newshub understands if borders don't open, officials will consider basing all teams in Australia or revert to a third round of Super Rugby Aotearoa instead.

"There may be something better," says Hore. "We cross that bridge when we come to it.

"There is a fall-back position, but we're always looking for something better."

But at least for now, it's a big win for all franchises who were starved of usual revenue this year.

More home games in 2021 will provide a welcome boost.

"Six is really important," says Mansbridge. "Seven, eight, nine would be even better, but six is really, really important."

Teams could get as many as eight, if they manage a home final in both competitions, but franchises are adamant - at least for now - that's not quite on the radar.

"You're probably best to chat to Colin about that down at the Crusaders," says Hore. "I'm sure he's probably factored it in."

Says Mansbridge: "There's a few mind games going on there and I think he's just trying to mess with our minds."

Regardless of who gets bragging rights, just having a trans-Tasman element is a big win for players.

"I can't imagine playing three rounds of bashing each other in New Zealand, so I'm pretty exciting to have the opportunity," says All Blacks captain Sam Cane.

Done right, it could be the ideal precursor for the future of Super Rugby.