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NZR considers trans-Tasman replacement for Super Rugby

New Zealand players perform a haka during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Bronze Final match versus Wales (by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby is considering abandoning Super Rugby and replacing it with a trans-Tasman tournament, local media has reported.

NZR has been reviewing its participation in Super Rugby in a process named ‘Aratipu’. According to a report by New Zealand media agency MediaWorks, one of the options under consideration is a new competition involving Australia, New Zealand, and “a team from the Pacific”.

Sanzaar, the alliance of southern hemisphere rugby unions that runs Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship national team competition, would be left to run just the latter.

However, the New Zealand Herald reported that Sanzaar chief executive Andy Marinos said his organisation continues to plan for a Super Rugby season in 2021 as normal. Next year’s competition is planned to involve teams from Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, and South Africa, with Japan’s Sunwolves dropping out after five years in the tournament.

The Aratipu review wants any new club competition to feed into a bigger international tournament, possibly involving playoffs against champions from other countries.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government said it is working to establish a ‘travel bubble’ with Australia to play this year’s Bledisloe Cup national team series, which has been pencilled in for October.

New Zealand’s Sports Minister Grant Robertson said: “I absolutely want to see that happen, like all New Zealanders I want to see sports teams travel here, alongside tourists and business people as well.”

Robertson also announced his government has released the first instalment of a NZ$265m ($174m/€154.2m) funding package to help the local sports industry cope with the financial impact of Covid-19. The initial NZ$80m tranche will be used to boost community sports, help sports organisations run national leagues, and upgrade facilities for global sporting events.