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Pacific Island and Japan could join Super Rugby

Super Rugby could become a Super 18 in 2016

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Article Published: Wednesday 2 October 2013|

Reports from New Zealand suggest that a Pacific Island conglomerate team playing out of Auckland could be added to Super Rugby in 2016.

Super Rugby organisers SANZAR are considering expanding Super Rugby again when the broadcast deal is renewed for the period between 2016 and 2021.

South Africa currently have six Super Rugby teams but only five places in the Super Rugby tournament. In 2013 the Southern Kings replaced the Lions and in 2014 the Lions will replace the Southern Kings.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald the idea has been put forward by the New Zealand Super Rugby coaches for an 18 team format.

As South Africa have six teams, Australia five and New Zealand six a further two Super Rugby teams will need to be formed.

One of those teams could be a Pacific Islands team and the other could be a Japanese team.

The Pacific Islands team would be based in Auckland and aligned with the New Zealand teams while the Japanese team would be aligned with the Australian teams.

There has been much speculation that Argentina could form a team to join Super Rugby but it appears that they are not yet ready to host a team so Super Rugby franchises will be allowed to sign Argentine players.

The addition of a Pacific Islands team would be a major boost for regions such as Samoa, Fiji and Tonga as they struggle to retain their players due to the poor infrastructure and lack of meaningful competition.

The move to expand is being driven by South Africa's insistence that all six of their teams play in the tournament instead of the five teams that Australia and New Zealand have.

Under the proposal teams would be split into two conferences based on their performances the year before and teams from each country would play each other home and away, as they do now, plus the other teams in their conference once.

Another big change would be that the tournament reverts to a standard quarter-final, semifinal, final system (as used in the Rugby World Cup) with the top four teams in both conferences progressing to the play offs.

The current Super Rugby finals qualifying system gaurantees that each country has a place in the finals as the top team in each country qualifies for the play offs.

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