New Zealand Rugby has proposed three draft options for a new professional competition to replace Super Rugby in 2021.
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The main stakeholders have been presented with a proposal. Source: 1 NEWS | Sky
Documents obtained by 1 NEWS confirm the union’s wishes for the competition of eight or 10 teams with the season starting at the end of February or early March and ending with the June 19 final.
The simplest choice is the eight-team format that will make each team face off and on for 15 weeks of the regular season. With the semi-finals and finals, that means 59 matches played in total.
New Zealand Rugby insists the five New Zealand clubs currently remain involved and, after showing a desire to also include the Pacific Islands franchise, the eight-team format will leave only two places available for Australian involvement. Australian Rugby has confirmed that finding such an option is not fun.
The two remaining options make allowances for 10 teams, but both create an imbalance with a draw. The first choice will see each team play four teams twice and five teams once, the second will reverse that order, with each team playing five teams twice and four teams at once.
Including the semifinals and finals, option one will create a season of 68 matches, all option two will increase that number to 73 matches. Both options can make room for up to four sides of Australia if the parties can agree to the terms.
The deal with Australia is just one of the challenges for Rugby New Zealand as they continue to advance with the development of their own competition. The national body has not clearly established what entities will be created to manage and control the commercial interests of the competition, and this has caused tensions in negotiations with private investors in the New Zealand franchise.
License to run and market the clubs for renewal; private investors demand clarity about what form of “Competition Company” will be formed by NZR.
Another important point is the ongoing discussion at the Rugby World level regarding an efficient global calendar. The 2021 season provides leeway for playing test matches in July, followed by The Rugby Championship and a traditional tour late in the north.
That could change in 2022 with the ‘SANZAAR’ window open mid-July to October followed directly by a cross-section window that runs until the end of November.
New Zealand Rugby has expressed interest in creating a ‘cross-border’ competition in 2022 where the top four teams from their new tournament will face teams from other club competitions, potentially in a knock-out format.
This could open the door to Japan’s Top League, or potentially US MLR, with insiders hinting at a more ambitious global approach.
Super Rugby Aotearoa concluded in only three weeks, which means New Zealand’s Rugby must immediately provide certainty to private investors at this time for next season. It is understandable that they want private investors today to sign new, lasting, licenses.
Investor representatives demanded more details about competitive entities, while some also demanded conditions to increase their capital commitments.
New Zealand Rugby and club representatives are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss the new format and license renewal.
2021 STRUCTURE OF DRAFT COMPETITION:
The match will start in late February / early March with June 19 scheduled for the finals
Play all the teams at home and away.
Play 4 teams twice, 5 teams once
Play 5 teams twice, 4 teams once
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