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Super officials mull expansion into US, Japan


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.

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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