The Trans-Tasman deal on the future of Super Rugby doesn’t appear to be a mile away, but the potential inclusion of Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua franchises and the lingering specter of Covid-19 mean the final competition format is not yet concluded. .
Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos spoke to reporters on Monday morning about the competition, confirming that much of the groundwork on governance has been done but discussions are underway on “different options”.
âTo be honest with you, we just worked on the duration of the competition,â said Marinos.
“It’s pretty hard to land on this final structure whenâ¦ we’re just waiting for the final clarifications in terms of the roster, and whether there will be 10 or 12.
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“I had conversations with Mark [Robinson, NZ Rugby chief executive] regularly, reviewing the different options.
“We’re talking about different options, but nothing has been tabled before either party at this point.”
The Trans-Tasman Super Rugby format was firmly back on the agenda last week when Rugby Australia President Hamish McLennan said Thing that its board was “divided” over the future of the competition.
This prompted a sort of rebuttal from Robinson, who said he was “confused” by McLennan’s remarks and that the format was almost accepted.
However, Marinos again indicated on Monday that at least some water must flow under the bridge before any final agreement.
When asked if a âsplitâ competition – with two conferences of six teams – was still to be negotiated, Marinos said: âWe have worked a lot to finalize a lot of the governance documents and all the preparatory work around it. the structure of the competition.
âI think the last piece of the puzzle is agreeing on how long the competition will last, how many weeks is it going to last and what the final structure of the competition is, what it’s going to look like.
âWe haven’t done it yet, but we’re not far from each other. We are not far from both sides.
“We’re just waiting to see where the two new teams fit in the decision-making framework from New Zealand.”
NZ Rugby is expected to make a final decision on Moana Pasifika and Fidjian Drua’s offers this week, although Marinos said Covid-19 also continued to create uncertainty.
At present, neither New Zealand nor Australia have the vaccination rates necessary to ensure uninterrupted travel between countries, while ongoing travel restrictions with Fiji could lead to the Fijian Drua is based in Australia.
âWe need to be aware that Covid-19 will more than likely play a role in our competitive structure next year,â Marinos said.
âIt’s definitely something on both sides of Tasman that we’re very aware of.
âYou want to have a structure that mitigates that as much as possible. This comes back to my take on the possibility of the Fijian side moving to Australia, which would greatly reduce that risk.
âIt’s much easier to control teams in your own geography than it is to work on three.
“As we saw this year with the Trans Tasman, as certain as it was with the borders open, we had this unfortunate outbreak in Melbourne and we had to quickly pivot and reset.”
The possibility that Fijian Drua would be based in Australia increased on Sunday, when the Australian government announced its support for the Fiji Rugby Union’s high performance programs.
While two separate conferences would create a different set of issues – particularly with McLennan arguing for guaranteed finalists from each group – Marinos said the benefits of Fidjian Drua being based in Australia were obvious.
âFrom a logistical point of view, it could make sense for next year,â he said. âWe just don’t know what the impacts of Covid will be.
âIt doesn’t look like these borders are going to be opened and freedom of movement is going to occur. We would more than likely see the location of the Fijian team in Australia and play in Queensland or New South Wales.