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15.04.2020 Africa

Southern hemisphere considers Tests, Super Rugby side-by-side

By AFP
LISTEN APR 15, 2020
"At this point we'd be silly to rule anything out," says SAnZAAR chief Andy Marinos. By Matthew MOHAN (AFP)

The southern hemisphere's Super Rugby competition and the Rugby Championship could be played simultaneously to cram in as many fixtures as possible when sport resumes after the coronavirus suspension, SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos suggested.

Marinos said the governing body was "hell bent" on continuing Super Rugby in some form this year and also wanted the Rugby Championship to proceed, adding that the season could be extended until December.

He said SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) was exploring the prospect of playing the competitions concurrently, even though Super Rugby teams would be weakened by the loss of their Test stars.

"Could you be playing the Rugby Championship at the same time as a domestic competition?" Marinos told New Zealand's Newshub late Tuesday.

"It's not trying to rubbish one for the other, it's how do we get a sensible solution in what may be a restricted time frame?"

Super Rugby was originally scheduled to end in June with the four-nation Rugby Championship being played in August and September.

Marinos said the Rugby Championship could be played in a single country, with players and officials confined to a competition-wide "bubble" in a similar arrangement to that proposed by Australia's National Rugby League (NRL).

"Logic would suggest, if there is an ability to create -- like what we've seen with the NRL -- around a bubble, if it's all in one location, it seems a bit easier," he said.

"At this point in time, we'd be silly to rule out anything."

He said if Super Rugby were to resume, travel restrictions would mean changes to the usual border-hopping format involving 15 teams from five nations

Instead, there would be three "domestic" competitions of five teams apiece in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, with Argentina's Jaguares playing in Africa and Japan's Sunwolves based in Australia.

Marinos said matches could be played until the end of the year if necessary.

"We have a calendar that can now go up until the end of December and our players are now on an extended period of rest, so we have till the end of 2020 to configure something," he said.

Meanwhile, Rugby Australia reported "good progress" in talks with the players' association over the need for pay cuts because of the coronavirus crisis.

The governing body has reportedly asked players to take a 65 percent cut over the next three months.

The matter is yet to be resolved but Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said talks held on Tuesday had been constructive.

"Both parties appreciate what is at stake and the players recognise their role and shared responsibility in securing the future and helping the game navigate through this unprecedented challenge," she said in a statement.

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