The evolution of Super Rugby is set to expand into Asia with SANZAR confirming that tenderers from Japan and Singapore will vie for the license to run a team when the competition grows to 18 participants in 2016.
Following an initial expression of interest process, SANZAR has created a shortlist of these two Asian-based applicants that best meet the criteria required to successfully run a Super Rugby franchise and will subsequently proceed with the full tender before a decision is reached in September/October.
SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said, “We are now able to confirm that two parties from Asia will compete for the opportunity to join an expanded Super Rugby competition in 2016. Asia is a region that has been the focus of considerable investment by the International Rugby Board in recent years and is a strategically sound location for the evolution of Super Rugby.
“We were happy with the number of responses received, however the two stand-out expressions of interest that were most attractive to the SANZAR Unions were received from Japan and Singapore. “Each bid has the support of the respective National Unions and includes other interested parties who will provide commercial and business support required for a venture of this nature.
” The two bidders now have until mid-August to submit formal tender documents, outlining why they are best-positioned to join the world’s premier international provincial rugby competition when it expands to 18 teams in 2016. The bids will be assessed against the key criteria of commercial value, infrastructure, geographic location, rugby readiness and ongoing sustainability.
The return of the Kings from South Africa’s Eastern Cape and a team based in Argentina have already been confirmed by SANZAR when the format was announced in May. Outline of the Super Rugby Competition Structure The four conference, two group future of Super Rugby will be structured as follows, with each team playing 15 games and having two byes across a 17-week Regular Season:
Super Rugby Finals Series The Regular Season will be followed by a knockout Super Rugby Finals Series featuring eight teams; the four conference winners plus the three next highest-ranked teams from the Australasian Group and the next highest-ranked team from the South African Group.
Conference winners will be seeded 1-4 based upon overall points from the Regular Season and the highest-ranked team will play at home in each match-up. The Super Rugby Finals Series will be structured as follows:
The Evolution of Super Rugby at a glance:
- Expansion to 18 teams from the 2016 season
- New teams to come from South Africa, Argentina and Japan OR Singapore via a tender process
- Four Conferences in Two Groups:
- Australasian Group: Australian Conference, New Zealand Conference
- South African Group: Africa Conference 1, Africa Conference 2
- Existing Australian and New Zealand Conferences to remain in their current form, comprising the Australasian Group
- Existing South African Conference to expand to eight teams and be split into two Conferences of four teams each, comprising the South African Group (composition still to be determined)
- 15 Regular Season games per team (8 home/7 away or vice-versa over a two-year cycle)
- Two byes per team
- 135 Regular Season and 7 Finals matches (up from 120 and 5 currently)
- Eight-team knockout Super Rugby Finals Series to be staged over three weeks (5 qualifiers from the Australasian Group and 3 from the South African Group)
- The four Conference winners automatically qualify for the Finals Series, along with the next three highest-ranked Australasian Group teams and the next highest-ranked South African Group team