It’s been a tricky year for most sporting leagues around the world. Super Rugby, the franchise run by SANZAAR, has always been a combination of Rugby Union provincial or regional teams from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
Over the years, there have been entries such as the Jaguars from Argentina and the Sun Wolves from Japan. However, it is predominantly those three nations.
In 2020, the tournament was completely derailed by COVID-19 lockdowns in all of the participating countries. New Zealand was the first to get back to playing and managed to run their own tournament – Super Rugby Aotearoa – with their five franchises. Australia also managed to complete a similar tournament – Super Rugby AU.
South Africa finally managed to get going with their own tournament a couple of months later – Super Rugby Unlocked – which included more than just the usual Super Rugby franchises. It was more like a combination of the local Currie Cup and Super Rugby.
A Shake Up For 2021
Despite all three nations rising above the trying times, there has been a lot of talk about what it all means for the coming years. The tournament itself has been under heavy criticism by players, franchises and fans for some time now. There has also been a heavily speculated rift growing between the nations.
With the enforced break, SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) has taken some time to look at the format of the competition. Andy Marinos, CEO of the organization that looks after both Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, had previously announced that the format of the franchise tournament would be shaken up and consolidated to a more streamlined event.
South Africa Walks Away From Super Rugby
In a move that didn’t really surprise many of the experts, current World Cup Champions South Africa announced in October 2020 that they would be leaving Super Rugby. They have chosen to rather take part in the Guinness Pro 14 in Europe, saying that the time difference and travel requirements would be a lot easier for the players. If you’re looking to wager on these games, one of the best tips for you would be to pick the team that’s not got jetlag!
This left the future of the tournament in doubt. It was always billed as a showcase of the best of the best in the southern hemisphere – often seen as quite a different rugby style to that of the northern hemisphere. However, chief executive of the Highlanders in New Zealand, Roger Clark, has let the cat out of the bag somewhat. He was talking about the crossover matches between his country’s franchises and those from Australia, when he started talking about the future of Super Rugby.
It looks like next year will feature a tournament that is just between Australia and New Zealand franchises. Things will expand in 2022, with teams from Fiji and the Pacific region being included for the first time. Fans can also expect a possible inclusion of South African teams every couple of years, as well as a matchup between the Super Rugby champions and the European champions happening every four years.