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Pacific Islands discussed as revamped Super Rugby participants

New Zealand Rugby are discussing Pacific Islands inclusion as part of their Super Rugby review, while a two-time World Cup winner has called for the islands to be involved in a revamp of the competition.

The suspension of play forced by COVID-19 is forcing rugby stakeholders to consider how they want the game to look when it comes out the other side and professional matches can resume.

With New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchise licences up for renewal this year anyway, a review of how the competition should look in 2021 and beyond has been launched, with Blues chairman Don Mackinnon at its head.

International travel restrictions will be in place for an undetermined amount of time, so Mackinnon told Newshub the possibility of domestic Super Rugby next year is under consideration.

"That could be possibly with or without Australia, depending on the bubble that is being talked about," he said.

"There is the potential here that, out of the crisis, we can come up with a model that's really exciting for our fans and sponsors, and all other stakeholders."

And that model might just include a team representing the Pacific Islands, which Mackinnon confirmed to be part of the review.

"It's definitely on the agenda. NZ Rugby has publicly stated the importance of working more closely with the Pacific Islands, so it's certainly on the list of issues to discuss."

That news would be welcome to former Wallabies second five Tim Horan, who spoke to Sky Sports NZ’s Breakdown programme about how a Super Rugby revamp will be needed even after international borders reopen, given travel costs mean including Argentina and South Africa make the current competition difficult to sustain.

“I think Super Rugby as we know it is going to be difficult to continue,” Horan said.

He sees an Asia/Pacific competition model as the best way forward, with the key inclusion of Japan and eventually the U.S.A.

“But also the Pacific Islands, we can’t forget them, we’ve gotta keep supporting them.

“It’s going to be interesting times because the financial model has to stack up going forward. Broadcast revenue’s not going to be there as much as it used to be, sponsors are they going to back off a little bit.

“I still think Super Rugby’s got a place in the game, it just has to be remodelled.”

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