Tensions between Australia and New Zealand over the future of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman reportedly look set to re-emerge as the two nations jostle for bargaining positions.
Previous indications were that New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia could reach an agreement on a future Trans-Tasman tournament by July, that would also involve a Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua team.
However, according to the latest report in Stuff.co.nz, “significant differences” remain between the two organisations over the tournament.
This comes after a one-sided Trans-Tasman competition, where New Zealand teams won 23 out of 25 games against their Australian rivals, while the final was contested between the Blues and Highlanders.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan told Stuff that this resulted in a drop in TV audiences from the highs of their own domestic competition.
“Trans-Tasman currently feels pretty imbalanced,” McLennan said. “We’re not changing our five teams so we need to work out an equitable attribution to running the competition. New Zealand’s [TV] ratings went up during Trans-Tasman, whilst ours went down.”
According to the report, there is still no agreement over what the future Trans-Tasman tournament could look like, while Australia feels that their teams are undervalued and are concerned over the competitiveness of the Pacific Island teams.
Australia reportedly wants to see a conference model implemented, where the winners of each conference would progress to the final, guaranteeing that there will be an Australian team in the final. However, given New Zealand’s dominance of the latest tournament, that would raise questions over the integrity of the future competition.
“The RA board is divided on the best competition structure and we need some time to think it through,” McLennan added. “[RA chief executive] Andy [Marinos] has some innovative ideas on a new, suitable competition.”
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