SARU had to be honest with themselves when SANZAAR discussed the new format for 2018 and one of the major considerations was to admit that the challenges of sustaining six strong South African teams was unsustainable for SA Rugby.
South African team has not won the Super Rugby title for seven years and the spreading of talent across six franchises at a time when the lure of the Euro and Yen has never been stronger has changed our environment and we have to recognise and respond to that.
Argentina is a a full member of SANZAAR and their participation in both Super Rugby and Rugby Championship is not up for discussion. Their Jaguares team has also been competitive this and last year and will only get better.
The question is why keeping the Sunwolves in a competition which they are not even close to be competitive enough. Winning a once off match here and there is surely not a reason to keep them?
But SARU explained the potential for growth in Asia of rugby and SANZAAR competitions is significant. It remains a focus for the organisation and establishing a Japanese Super Rugby franchise is key to that strategy.
Loosing two Australian teams was not on the cards as Australia is in a highly competitive sports market and needs to retain as broad a footprint as possible; reducing to three Australian teams would damage not just Australian rugby but all of SANZAAR in their view.
At this stage there is no relegation or promotion option in Super Rugby although there will be changes in years to come.
The new format for next year will see teams will play 12 of the other 14 in log play which means you will not play all teams in the regular season.
This new format will be in place until 2020 so we will have three years at least of this new format.
The new format also mean that the SA rugby community has more concentrated financial resources to contract the better players at fewer franchises. SANZAAR did not consider a two division format becuase Vodacom Super Rugby is already the most logistically expensive team sport in the world and to create two divisions would add to that expense while the potential appeal of what could be regarded as a second-rate lower tier of the competition is far from proved.
At the end we all were calling for less teams and more competitive rugby, in some sense we reach that with the new format but at the end money is ruling decisions and something fans need to expect to sustain the game not just in our country but also in the world.