SANZAAR rejects report of South African exodus

SYDNEY (AP) Super Rugby organizers SANZAAR have issued a statement dismissing a British media report that some South African teams are planning to quit the southern hemisphere tournament to play in Europe.

Wales Today reported that the Durban-based Sharks, Johannesburg-based Lions and Cape Town-based Stormers were all planning to leave Super Rugby within the next few years to join the European Pro14 competition.

But SANZAAR chief executive Andy Marinos said the report was incorrect and South Africa was committed to Super Rugby.

”SANZAAR, through its joint venture partners Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa, is currently engaged in a detailed strategic planning process that will deliver a road-map for the organization, Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship from 2018 to 2030,” Marinos said.

”As part of this process the partners have fully committed to the strategy and future participation.

”Any talk of a change to the stakeholder relationship and partners withdrawing and so-called trans-Tasman competitions is unsubstantiated speculation and simply wrong.”

South African teams have often been linked with moves to European competitions because the time zones are more favorable for television audiences than in Super Rugby, which includes teams from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Japan.

The Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs and the Port Elizabeth-based Kings have already joined the Pro14 competition after being ejected from Super Rugby at the end of the 2017 season.