Super Rugby is about to undergo another massive format change.
The 2016 Super Rugby season was not the success organisers had hoped for when they adopted a new format following the introduction of the Sunwolves, Jaguares and the Kings.
Following on from the 2015 World Cup, there was a great deal of optimism surrounding the inclusion of the Japanese and Argentinian franchises.
However, Sunwolves struggled to compete against the southern hemisphere’s elite club sides and the Jaguares were underwhelming, despite fielding the majority of Argentina’s test team.
In addition to the number of one sided results last season, the format of the competition was far too complicated, and didn’t see the kiwi franchises rewarded for their dominance of the preliminary round.
Consequently, three of the four quarter finals saw one sided results and left neutral supporters struggling to get behind the competition’s later rounds.
All of that could be about to change however, after the Sydney Morning Herald reported that two franchises could be axed in a radical tournament shake up.
The must likely victims of the cull are the Western Force, who are struggling both on and off the pitch after being bailed out to the tune of $800,000 by the Australian Rugby Union.
In a move that would have been unthinkable a few short years ago, Australia could lose a second franchise, as the Melbourne Rebels are being propped up by private investment after posting a loss of over $1 million last year.
Indeed, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, it would seem that the ARU are committed to cutting at least one franchise, having been involved in lengthy and serious discussions regarding the future format of Super Rugby.
If the Australians sacrifice one franchise, it is expected that the South Africans would follow suit, returning Super Rugby to a more manageable 16 teams.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena