JOHANNESBURG – The killing off of two South African Super Rugby teams will be swift and merciless.
South African Rugby Union CEO Jurie Roux wants the execution to be done and dusted within the month.
“Australia are about to announce which one of their five teams will be cut (probably the Rebels or Force), and we must do the same soon,” said Roux on Monday.
“I don’t want us to faff around... I’m going to push (for a decision) as soon as possible. My plea is that it will be swift, at least in the next month.”
The Cheetahs and Kings are the two South African teams in the firing line as Super Rugby reverts back to a 15-team competition from next year.
Australia will lose one team, too, while New Zealand will continue to have five teams in the competition. The Sunwolves and Jaguares are guaranteed their places in the three-conference system competition.
Roux on Monday outlined the process to get to the four local representatives. “On Tuesday there will be a franchise meeting, and they’ll set the criteria, the weighting and so on, and the process to follow.
“My plea is that the decisions taken will not be political or emotional. I want everyone to know what is going on, so we’re not accused of stalling. I don’t want us to jump through 12 or 15 hoops before we make a decision, in August or September. A decision must be taken quickly.
“In terms of Saru’s constitution the General Council still has the final decision, so the process will go via the Franchise Committee to the Executive Council to the General Council.”
Roux admitted dropping two franchises from Super Rugby would have far-reaching effects, but he said it was essential for the economic sustainability of rugby in this country.
“We’re talking about people’s livelihoods. But we can sort out contracts, maybe develop alternative competitions for them, but the reality is we cannot sustain six Super Rugby teams.
“It’s high time we take the tough decisions in the interest of South African rugby. We, as elected officials, are paid to make the right decisions at the right time, and this is the time for those decisions,” said Roux.
“Will people be angry, yes. Will they be disappointed, yes.”
Roux said that with rugby now having a global season, there was a good chance that the two cut teams as well as two more teams might play in other “global” competitions, perhaps in Asia or America.
“In an ideal world, we’d like to have eight fully professional teams playing across the world, but we still have to have our 14 unions, who’ll play in other competitions on a semi-professional basis. They are the heartbeat of our game.
“But we need strength versus strength in Super Rugby. Hopefully the Franchise Committee will talk about the players at those franchises who’re going to be cut from Super Rugby and where they might play from next year, because there are certainly players in those franchises who are better than at some other teams.
“We need to keep all our best players in the country... hopefully there will be agreement that they get distributed across the country so that we have four very competitive teams going forward.”