The southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby tournament could continue until December, or even take place at the same time as The Rugby Championship, when sport returns after the Covid-19 lockdown, according to Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos.
The club competition, which features sides from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, was postponed after seven rounds due to the pandemic. It normally runs until July as a prelude to The Rugby Championship international tournament, which traditionally begins on August 8.
Marinos, said scheduling the two events alongside one another would allow Sanzaar to cram as many matches as possible into a short time frame, even if this meant club sides would be weakened by losing players to the international matches.
“Could you be playing The Rugby Championship at the same time as a domestic competition?” Marinos told New Zealand’s Newshub on 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?”
However, he also conceded that the Super Rugby season could be cancelled if play isn’t possible before October.
“If you start getting towards the back end of September/October and we still haven’t had a resumption of rugby, I think logic would say that’s when we would consider [cancelling the season],” he said. “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 until the end of 2020 to configure something.
“I wouldn’t want to be definitive as to when there is a point of no return. We have to work with the confines that we have and, at the moment, that looks like between May and December 31 to put a competition structure together and get a competition under our belts.”
One option to resume the competition would be for teams from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa to play among themselves in their respective regions, with Japan’s Sunwolves joining the Australian teams and Argentina’s Jaguares joining the South African competition. This sort of regional setup was also considered 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,” Marinos said.
“We will continue to work closely with all the governments and health authorities in all the jurisdictions we are playing,” he added. “We have put a revised competition format to the front of the table which is largely domestically focused and that is within the controls we can manage.”