Super Rugby’s expansion revealed



Australian Rugby Union Boss Bill Pulver has revealed details about the proposed expanded format for Super Rugby from 2016.

Super Rugby’s organizers SANZAR want to expand the 15 team tournament as they believe it will bring in more money for the South African, Australian and New Zealand Rugby Unions.

Pulver says that he has backed a format with 18 teams in a four conference format from 2016.

There are currently 15 teams divided into three equal geographic conferences made up of five teams.

Pulver says that from 2016 the New Zealand and Australian conference will remain at five teams but South Africa will have two conference of four teams.

South Africa currently have five teams and the Southern Kings, and a new Argentine team and another side – possibly from Asia – will be added to make eight teams.

These eight teams will be divided in two two groups of four and are expected to be based in South Africa.

Those two four-team conferences will only face one of the two Australasian conferences each year, which reduces the amount of travel.

Currently Australian teams only play four of the five New Zealand teams a year but that will be increased to five matches.

Australian teams will also play two less “local derby” matches a season – dropping from eight to six, and meaning one less home game every second year – and this has upset the Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies who believe it will see them go bust.

Pulver however said that less was more for the Melbourne Rebels and Western Force.

“In Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra they work very well,” he said. “In Melbourne and Perth those two franchises aren’t too excited in home derbies.”

“It’s likely to be a four-conference model and this will be finalized in the next couple of weeks to be announced,” Pulver told AAP.

Pulver has backed the proposed changes as the best model to improve the competition and importantly boost broadcasting revenue.

“I’m more than happy to go along with it,” said Pulver.

“I think it will be a terrific structure for the game.”

Currently the top team from each Conference qualifies for the Super Rugby finals so if the rules are retained then South Africa will almost certainly have two teams in the Super Rugby finals each year.

One of those qualifying teams will have a considerably easier route to the finals as they would have missed out on playing one of the Australasian Conferences.

Figures released last week suggest Super Rugby’s viewer numbers are down almost 10% in South Africa where most of the broadcast money comes from and overall interest in Super Rugby appears to be waning.

The two bottom teams currently in Super Rugby are from South Africa. When the Southern Kings played in Super Rugby last year they finished last.


Teams: 18 – current 15 plus Southern Kings (RSA), Argentine team, plus one more

Conferences: 4 – Australia (5 teams), New Zealand (5), two based in South African (4 each, including one expansion team)

Matches: 15 per team

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. Figures released last week suggest Super Rugby’s viewer numbers are down almost 10% in South Africa

    Of course they’re down, 4 of the 5 South African teams are in the bottom 6 on the log. Don’t need rocket science to figure out why 75% of SA fans are not that interested in this years competition anymore.

  2. So if i get it right.

    The SA teams will play 6 derby games inside their conference and 4 games against the other SA conference. Then 5 games against either the NZ or Aus teams, alternating annually.

    The Aus teams will play 6 derbies, 5 games against NZ and 4 against one of the SA based conferences.

    Tours will be alternating 2 weeks or 3 weeks for SA based teams and 2 weeks for the Aus & NZ teams.

    The positives are then:
    -More equity in travel loads.
    -More games in SA and in the richer SA & EU television time zones. Hopefully more of the big audience play-off matches also.

    The challenges will be the so called Arg and Asia teams. Where will they play home games? Who will watch their matches, locally or on TV? Teams not based in a home market is unheard of in sports. If SA rugby manage to pull it off successfully it’ll be something for the history books.

  3. Come to think of it, forget Asia.

    Bring in a bunch of dark skinned blokes from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji and let them play home games at Orlando stadium Attract whole new demographic to rugby.
    Or alternating at the nice new stadium for Cape based All Black fans.

    Argentina is a bit too much of a white country for the Black African market. Perhaps they should play as a travelling circus in the smaller SA cities. Nelspruit, Witbank, George and so on. Take Super rugby to the long neglected fans.

  4. @Timeo: Timo how can it be ggod for our rugby if you only play against one of NZ or Aus per year?

    The whole idee for me about Supershit is that players get experience to play against the best players and teams in SH.

    Yes our tour schedule is better but the games and experience we will get will be less.

    If they do this they can through the CC away because it will become useless.

  5. @Timeo:

    With permission from the soccer team, name them the Orlando Raiders. Black and white strip. Pirate/headhunter logos.

    Genuine professional, with a very rich flamboyant (preferably black) owner and no historical apartheid or amateur white rugby baggage.

  6. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Where do you get this idea that we are better because we play them every year?
    We’ve played them every year since 1996 and there is no evidence of this supposed improvement. Not against NZ, not Aus and neither against the NH teams.

    And even if this high amount of high quality opponents serve to faster develop SA players, the same high intensity and high travel serve to shorten careers and drive players to Europe in Japan. Quality players are leaving as fast as the current setup produces them. The net benefit to SA rugby stays ziltch.

    CC has been pretty useless for some years now. The effect over what we have right currently will be negligible. In fact the number of SA v SA derby matches (8) will stay the same, but will be between 6 teams instead of 5.

  7. @Timeo: I respectfully disagree…

    Development have been preach to us for so many years that because we play against the best we get the best exposure for young talent coming through as they play against some of the best players week in and out…..

    Each team will play 15 matches still so players getting tired and moving aboard will still happen and if you believe players go to UK and Japan because they play to much then you are wrong they go becayse they earn a shit load of money.

  8. Well done SARU your bowing to politics and an extra team has now degraded your current super rugby itinerary and bettered the nzar's format. Not only that but this paves the way for an easy transition to excluding rsa down the line…

  9. You can never please people…

    I am with Timeo on this for a couple of reasons.

    1) Our elite players will play each other (in derbies) more often, which is why people used to love the Currie Cup of old that nowadays sees the competition run minus the Springboks (our best).

    2) Tours will be 2 weeks – no need to explain the benefit in that.

    3) Since we have 2 conferences, our teams will play both Oz and NZ every year, but alternate which conference plays each country every year. I have heard often enough how we have degraded the rivalries and that there is nothing special about playing one another anymore because we play each other too often. Now we still play them, just not as often.

    4) There will be one less game, and the competition length will be shorter.

    5) Japan (Asia team touted) can put one mean mutha fluffing outfit together (combined Asian team) given all the Saffa’s, Aussies and Kiwi’s playing in their leagues – we will perhaps now even see our Saffas over there in Super Rugby again.

    6) With two conferences, SA is guaranteed of two teams in the play-off’s (8 team play off scenario in this format) – I cannot understand how the Aussies let that slide…

    The way I see it, SA is only benefiting with NZAR having to concede a hell of a lot.

  10. @Morné:

    I read through the document last night and is also happy with this format.

    All I want to see is the CC being incorporated into this competition so we dont have a re-run sans Springboks later on.

  11. @Cheetah Glory:

    Currently Aus teams play 2 matches in SA and 2 in NZ.

    Under the new format they will still play 2 in SA, but alternate 2/3 in NZ. Trans ocean travel stays the same. Trans Tasman travel increases by 5/4.

    For SA teams trans ocean travel is reduced by a factor of 5/8.

    Aus players will play 25 matches against NZ teams and 15 matches against SA teams every year.
    SA players will play 15 matches against NZ and 15 against Aus teams every year.

  12. And then there is the question of the make-up of the “Asian” team that will play 6 matches against SA teams.

    It may include a fair number of Kiwis, PIs and Saffas.

  13. @Timeo:

    precisely. Ozzie teams will be strengthened slightly cause they get more exposure to NZ, while we will struggle a bit cause we not only play kiwis less but also play two weaker teams (in short term – hopefully)

  14. But all in all its a good thing for our game, provided we can somehow build our Curie Cup into it.

  15. I will go with this. The travel burden will now be more on the Anzacs than our teams. Spending a maximum of only two short weeks down under rather than the four week bore is a major win for the players. Then looking forward to expanding our conferences to include up to 8 SA provincial teams and two more Argie teams in our conferences. This will fit nicely into future Heineken cup competitions with our European friends as well with an option to dump the convicts.

    As Jurie said we got everything we asked for.

  16. Forget the expansion do something about the blatant home side refereeing otherwise we must leave this shit comp. I like to call it cheating but we wont today.

    It will go ahead so I hope we include CC as an extension, as mentioned above, as the relegation/promotion for Supershit.

  17. There are some reservations.

    Apparently they guaranteed the Aus/NZ conferences 5 of the 8 quarterfinal spots.


    And then there is the question of travel. If the Arg and the Asia teams choose to play there home-games in Arg and Asia (the logical thing to do) then the “less travel box” was certainly NOT checked.

  18. There is a poll out on one of the sites.
    I added my vote in the KAK IDEA category.
    I see I’m with 70% of the fans.