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Super officials mull expansion into US, Japan

Date

Duncan Johnstone

"I don't think anything is off the table at all post-2015" ... Peters.

"I don't think anything is off the table at all post-2015" ... Peters. Photo: Getty Images

SUPER RUGBY looks ready to take the next step and extend into new territories beyond Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The potential riches on offer in the American and Asian markets could prove irresistible.

It's not a new concept, but the timing could finally be right. A new broadcasting deal must be struck for 2016 and that coincides with rugby's reintroduction to the Olympics when they are held in Brazil that year.

There is also the lure created by Japan's need to push its game up another level as it readies to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

And importantly, unlike in the past, Super Rugby now has a format that allows extra teams because of its conference system.

Internal expansion does not appear likely. Despite South African pleas for a sixth team, there is a feeling the playing depth in New Zealand and Australia has been exhausted.

It's the money that might be too good to ignore, however. Tough economic circumstances have stretched local markets. Fresh fields represent new gold, especially those on either side of the North Pacific.

''From broadcast revenue and commercial revenue perspectives, there are some very big markets out there that are potential markets that SANZAR [South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby] might want to explore on the back of the growing impact of Sevens and the Olympics,'' SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said. ''There are absolutely possibilities within the [United] States and Japan for increased television revenue and a lot of that has to do with Sevens being in the 2016 Olympics.

''I don't think anything is off the table at all post-2015, and, particularly with the conference format, you can add other conferences or … teams to the current conferences. There are lots of different things that can be done with the format….

''But I don't think anyone, particularly in New Zealand or South Africa, would want to see more weeks of rugby. So it's how you structure what you have got into those weeks. We always have to remember that we do this for what's in the best interests of rugby and commercial revenue for the three SANZAR countries.''

There is also the appealing opportunity to place at-risk or surplus players in offshore teams in a SANZAR competition rather than have them nabbed by rich European clubs.

''That could well have some legs,'' Peters said. ''But the key for it to be successful, as you see in Japan, is it has to have a majority of local players. That's where the States becomes more attractive because they have the athletes, NFL guys that don't make it, we just need to make sure they have the skills that rugby needs.''

Football has taken a long road to establish itself in the US but Major League Soccer is now a respected competition. Peters felt the long-term potential of rugby there was similar and believed Sevens could start that push. ''You know what the attraction of an Olympic gold medal does for those big countries,'' he said. ''They get right behind it.''

There is also the important question of where SANZAR's blossoming relationship with Argentina goes next. The Pumas join the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in the Rugby Championship this year and clearly have the potential to operate at the level below that.

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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