SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said the length of the S15 and playing the TN are vital for economic success.
Greg Peters has defended the length of the Super Rugby competition and the decision to play the Tri-Nations during a World Cup year, saying they were vital for the economic success of the three southern hemisphere unions.
SANZAR, comprising of the South African, New Zealand and Australian rugby unions, expanded the Super Rugby competition to 15 teams and 21 weeks, prompting criticism that the tournament was leading to player burnout.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has criticised the decision to play the Tri-Nations during a World Cup year, even though SANZAR has shortened it from nine matches to just six games this year.
“We hear the concern about player welfare and it is of huge importance. But without the money from the Tri-Nations this year, because there are no June in-bound Tests in a World Cup year, the SANZAR unions would have suffered significant losses,” Peters said on Thursday.
“The economic reality is that Super Rugby also drives revenue into the three countries and to their franchises, and is an important business model for them too,” Peters told.
“It’s the scheduling and the time of our southern hemisphere season that makes it difficult. The question is where we should position these competitions.”
FAVOURING THE AUSSIES
Peters deflected suggestions that the new Super Rugby format, based on a conference system, favoured Australia, whose Reds won the competition by beating New Zealand’s Crusaders 18-13 in the final.
“Super Rugby is a joint venture between three partners working together for the strength of that competition. That has happened and, although there’s no doubt the new format suits the Australian market – 21 weeks being similar to the ARL (Rugby League) and AFL (Australian Rules football) – South Africa and New Zealand derive enough benefit from it as well,” Peters said.
Peters is on a tour of the three countries to review stakeholders’ feedback on the 2011 Super Rugby competition.
“We’ve sold this format to the broadcasters for five years, so there won’t be any fundamental changes and neither should there be after just one year of a new competition.
“There may be some small changes, but the fundamental goal of SANZAR is securing financial success and growing crowds and fan appeal. I’d say the new format gets an A+ in Australia and a pass mark in the other two countries,” said Peters.