Whilst it is acknowledged that the impact of COVID-19 has presently brought unprecedented change to the world of rugby as we have known it, any changes to the Vodacom Super Rugby structure this year and into the future are matters that are currently being discussed in detail by all the joint-venture, national union stakeholders: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The stakeholders are all committed to the joint-venture through to 2030 and once consensus is agreed upon by all the stakeholders it will then be communicated by the SANZAAR Board.

With respect to 2020, it is likely that once the green light is given to commence the playing of rugby matches in the various stakeholder territories, that a revised Vodacom Super Rugby competition format will be implemented.

In all likelihood, this will mean a strong domestic focus in each territory given the travel, border and government restrictions that we believe we will have to adhere to. SANZAAR will in due course make the appropriate announcements on the restart of rugby matches.

As to the future competition structures in 2021 and beyond, SANZAAR has already sold to broadcasters a 14-team Vodacom Super Rugby cross-border tournament format as well as the four-team Castle Lager Rugby Championship, within the stakeholder core markets.

Again, where any changes to these competitions is required, as a consequence of any ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, these will be decided upon by the SANZAAR board.

SANZAAR CEO, Andy Marinos, said: “Having spoken with my SANZAAR Board members I can confirm that none of the suggested models or structures that have been commented on recently, such as stand-alone Trans-Tasman formats, have been agreed by any of the SANZAAR unions individually or collectively. All such reports are merely speculative and have no basis to them.

“This is not to say that we are not having realistic discussions on what may have to eventuate should COVID-19 restrictions continue beyond 2020. We are presently looking in detail at various competition formats, but any agreed format will include teams from all four stakeholder national unions.

“Due to uncertainty over what various government restrictions, if any, may look like next year including international travel, no date has been set yet as to when a decision will be made on 2021 and beyond.

“A major consideration is that we also have an obligation to discuss any contingencies with our broadcast partners in the first instance after which we will make public comment.”