The planned expansion of the Pro12 to include the two SA franchises that have been culled from Super Rugby has spawned a suggested new revision to Super Rugby.
The Australian RU Players Association is pushing to keep all 5 Aussie franchises and to compete in an exclusive trans- Tasmanian league.
The Australian Rugby Union Players’ Association believes the impending move of two South African Super Rugby franchises to European competition is a perfect reason why Australia should not cut a team of its own and instead push for a trans-Tasman competition.
With two South African teams set to leave Super Rugby next season, reports indicate the two sides will go north and feature in the Pro12, a competition made up of teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
While nothing has been confirmed, there are rumours South Africa is on the outer with other southern hemisphere nations, given they are happy to shift teams to the northern hemisphere.
If other South African franchises were to follow suit, as is being assumed, it could leave Super Rugby in disarray, creating the possibility of an exclusively Australian and New Zealand competition.
It is a scenario RUPA chief executive Ross Xenos says makes sense.
“The prospective decision to move two teams into the Pro12 has significant and direct consequences for Australia and Super Rugby,” Xenos told Fairfax Media. “It is now very apparent that SARU are testing the waters on the long-term option of their teams playing in European competitions full-time from 2021.
It may well be that Xenos is simply being devilish – but what if he is right and the SA franchises really are planning to move ‘north’ after the next World Cup?
This could affect the Pro league, Premiership, Top 14 and indeed the 6 Nations! It would also leave Super Rugby in even more of a mess.