Decision time looms for Sanzar
Decision time looms for Sanzar

Sanzar bosses are getting closer to unveiling their future vision for the Tri Nations and Super Rugby.

Officials from the New Zealand, Australian and South African rugby unions will continue their top-level discussions in Perth on Friday.

Sanzar has given themselves a September deadline to come up with their future vision of their flagship competitions, with the existing broadcasting deal ceasing at the end of 2010.

But changes could be made before 2010 depending on how far talks proceed in Perth on Friday.

Options include the widespread expansions of both the Super Rugby and Tri Nations tournaments, including moving into new markets in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Argentina and North America.

That was a proposition which has won the support of veteran Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock.

"From my perspective, I think all the additions they are looking at putting into place are extremely exciting," Mortlock told Yahoo!Xtra.

"The possibilities of having an extended Super series, bringing in some more teams, possibly going up to Japan or having Argentina involved sound really exciting.

"Then the possibility of hopefully having maybe an extended Tri Nations is great.

"The more games at the higher level would be a real positive for rugby in the southern hemisphere. It is an exciting time."

Sanzar is carrying out a series of summits with rugby administrators from unions hoping to be included in future restructured Super Rugby or Tri Nations competitions.

The NZRU gave an insight into the detailed discussions in its franchise structure review document, released publicly last week.

And it made it clear that significant changes could be made as early as next year, dependent on agreement with Sanzar's broadcasting partners.

It stated: "Sanzar is required to present its product offerings in terms of international competitions beyond 2010 to News Limited by 2009.

"With the agreement of the broadcasters, there is the potential that any changes to the current Super Rugby and Tri Nations competitions could be incorporated in 2009 or 2010 (whether in whole or part).

"For this reason the NZRU has commenced a review of its Sanzar competitions and is actively engaged in discussions with its Sanzar partners, as well as other national unions that may be interested in participating in these competitions in the future."

Points up for debate in terms of the future of Super Rugby include; extending the competition (including more local derbies), new teams in new markets, the season structure (including timing and the introduction of conferences) and an extension of the finals series.

The Tri Nations debate includes; the ability to introduce new teams, the number of times each side plays each other, the structure and season timing and the format in years which clash with British Lions tours or World Cups.

Rugby bosses are also looking to see if there was the "ability to incorporate tours into the competition".

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