Sanzaar mulls options for Super Rugby, Rugby Championship

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Super Rugby organizer Sanzaar is hopeful the southern hemisphere tournament will go ahead in some form this season, possibly being played simultaneously with the Rugby Championship.

Chief executive Andy Marinos said Sanzaar would be willing to allow the currently suspended season to continue until December if necessary, though it will consider canceling the season if a resumption isn’t possible by October.

“If you start getting towards the back end of September (or) October and we still haven’t had a resumption of rugby, I think logic would say that’s when we would consider (canceling the season),” Marinos told New Zealand’s Newshub. “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 Dec. 31 to put a competition structure together and get a competition under our belts.”

International travel restrictions make it likely that if Super Rugby resumes it will be within regional conferences, with New Zealand, Australian and South African teams playing among themselves. Japan’s Sunwolves would join the Australian teams and Argentina’s Jaguares would join the South African competition, if possible.

“We will continue to work closely with all the governments and health authorities in all the jurisdictions we are playing,” Marinos said. “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.”

Marinos said Super Rugby might be played alongside Rugby Championship test matches.

“We still have time and we will certainly look at how we optimize the international and Super programs,” he said. “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?”

Australian media reports suggest Sanzaar is considering playing a shortened Rugby Championship this year with teams based at one location, likely in Australia.

New Zealand Rugby has already expressed doubt about the proposal.

“At this stage any competition options are purely speculative,” chief executive Mark Robinson said.

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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