Super Rugby Team Officially Axed As Competition Reverts Back To 14-Team Format
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Japanese franchise the Sunwolves have officially been axed from Super Rugby in favour of a 14-team competition, SANZAAR announced today following a substantial review.
Super Rugby will be reduced from 15 sides back to 14 in 2021, with the Tokyo-based Sunwolves set to depart at the end of the 2020 season, which will be their fifth in the competition.
“The decision to further consolidate the competition format to a 14-team round robin was not taken lightly. It has involved some detailed analysis and a thorough review of the current and future rugby landscape, tournament costs, commercial and broadcast considerations and player welfare in line with our Strategic Plan,” SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said in a statement.
“Competition integrity, affordability and a competitive playing environment were further key drivers to ensure that an optimal player development pathway remains in place to feed into international rugby.
“Factoring in the above analysis and review a 14 or 15-team round robin format were considered, as these models delivered best against the criteria we were seeking, including a format that would see each team playing every other team leading into a finals series.”
Once the Sunwolves have departed, Super Rugby will scrap the current conference system and revert back to a round-robin format – which sees every team face each other once. The 14-team Super Rugby will comprise of five existing teams from New Zealand, four South African sides, four Australian clubs and Argentina franchise the Jaguares.
The decision to leave Super Rugby was ultimately made the the Japan Rugby Football Rugby Union who could no longer “financially underwrite” their participation in the competition.
“SANZAAR was advised by the Japan Rugby Football Union [JRFU] in early March that they would no longer be in a position to financially underwrite the Sunwolves’ future participation post 2020.
“The future of the Sunwolves will now be determined by the JRFU which has determined that Super Rugby no longer remains the best pathway for the development of players for the national team,” Marinos added.