Rugby bosses discuss state of the union

Western Force players react after going down to the ACT Brumbies on Friday night. The Force are among the teams in danger of being cut from the Super Rugby competition.
Western Force players react after going down to the ACT Brumbies on Friday night. The Force are among the teams in danger of being cut from the Super Rugby competition. LUKAS COCH

RUGBY UNION: The shape of Australian rugby could be decided as early as this week after a meeting of the game's power brokers in London over the weekend.

Sanzaar, the group in charge of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship released a statement which says the future of Southern Hemisphere rugby will be unveiled after member countries have been given the time to discuss plans with respective stakeholders.

Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos said there was plenty to come out of the summit.

"Following two days of robust discussion there are a number of tournament considerations that now require further discussion and consultation," Marinos said.

"This includes final consultation within the national unions and discussion with key stakeholders that would allow the adoption of changes proposed by the strategic plan.

"Sanzaar will make a formal statement on the future of the organisation, Super Rugby and the tournament format in the coming days once these further meetings have been concluded."

The Sanzaar meeting was held after the group last year commissioned a consultancy firm to lay out what the competition could look like in 10 years.

The consultancy firm was also asked to look at whether there should be changes to the current Super Rugby competition before the TV broadcast deal, which is in its second year of a five-year run, ends.

It appears that New Zealand rugby wants a change as it believes the current set-up is not fair in regards to the pathway teams have to the playoffs.

There has been plenty of talk about how Super Rugby should now shape up, with the favourite format seemingly a competition which goes back to 15 teams.

It is also being reported that New Zealand, which filled all four semi-final places last year and had the eventual champions, the Hurricanes, is lobbying hard for the removal of one of Australia's five teams and two of South Africa's six.

The Waratahs and Queensland Reds would seem to be safe in that scenario,

Axing the Brumbies, Australia's best-performing team over the past couple of years, would be harsh too.

That means this country's newest franchises, the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels, would be most at risk.

The Brumbies have the best record of Australia's teams, with titles in 2001 and 2004.

They have also won four other grand finals and took out the Australian conference last year.

But things are not altogher rosy on and off the field with the Canberra-based club.

The Rebels can hold their own on the financial front but results this year have been shocking and they sit dead last.

The Force has been better this season but nas not reached the finals in its 10 years.

Those problems, added to the poor form of both the Reds and the Waraths this season, does not help the hopes of keeping five teams in the Australian conference.

Topics:  melbourne rebels rugby championship sanzaar super rugby western force

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