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Super Rugby bosses mulling further expansion

American Todd Clever played for the Lions in the Super 14

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Article Published: Thursday 24 January 2013|

Super Rugby could become more of a global tournament and games could be played in new territories such as Canada, the United States and even Japan in the future.

Canada and the United States have been included in this year's Pacific Nations Cup this year bringing them closer to SANZAR Rugby's territory while Argentina were included in the expanded TriNations tournament the Rugby Championship from last year.

Super Rugby expanded from a 14 team format to a 15 team format in 2011 and the current broadcast deal is a five year agreement which expires in 2016.

The 2013 Super Rugby season will have a new Super Rugby team in the Southern Kings who have replaced fellow South African team the Lions but they will play a promotion/relegation match later this year to decide which of the two teams plays in the 2014 Super Rugby tournament.

South Africa, like their partners Australia and New Zealand, have their own conference with places for teams but South Africa have six Super Rugby teams.

Starting with the Super 6 in 1992 just about every new Super Rugby broadcast deal has brought expansion with it and the body that runs Super Rugby SANZAR will have to decide this year whether expansion is necessary for the new deal for the 2016-2021 period.

"We are considering whether or not we will include new territories in Super Rugby and one of the factors we'll be weighing up is their competitiveness," SANZAR boss Greg Peters told The Australian.

"Super Rugby in its present form is a pretty successful model ... and we are not going to water it down."

"But we'd be derelict in our duty if we didn't consider expanding into areas."

"The United States is a very big market and so is Japan and Asia generally."

"Ultimately it all comes down to what is in the best interests of the three SANZAR parties."

Peters said that the travel factor would form a major part of the decision on whether to expand or not as Super Rugby already involves the most travel of any sports league in the world.

"Player welfare is a big consideration. That said, the conference system does provide us with a degree of flexibility, either in terms of adding new conferences or adding new teams to existing conferences."

South Africa are ready to add one team to their Super Rugby conference which takes the total number of teams to 16 but if SANZAR want to keep the conferences balanced the Australian and New Zealand conferences would each need to add another team taking the "Super 15" to a "Super 18".

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