Super Rugby denies claims clubs will leave for PRO14
By Sky Sports Rugby
Last Updated: 07/05/18 2:14pm
Super Rugby chiefs have rubbished claims that three more South African teams could leave the competition to play in Europe.
Wales Online had reported that the Durban-based Sharks would join the European PRO14 competition for 2019/20, with the Lions and Stormers potentially following suit.
This follows reports that South Africa's franchises are becoming increasingly disillusioned with competing alongside teams from New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, in time zones spread across the globe.
However, governing body SANZAAR said all of its member unions remained on board and involved in an ongoing review to determine Super Rugby's future up to 2030.
"As part of this process the member unions have fully committed to the strategy and their future participation," SANZAAR chief Andy Marinos said in a statement.
"Any talk of a change to the stakeholder relationship and partners withdrawing, creation of new teams in new markets and trans-Tasman competitions is unsubstantiated speculation and simply wrong."
Marinos said the review would "address the challenges facing our game and to clearly articulate SANZAAR's vision and purpose in terms of a sustainable future".
"Everything has been on the table - status quo, expansion, contraction, competition formats, etc - as part of our initial blue-sky thinking."
Last week, Australia's Fairfax Media cited a leaked paper titled "SANZAAR 2030 Strategy" as examining a push into North America, potentially as a contingency plan should South African teams jump ship.
It reportedly raised the possibility of a 20-team, four-conference format likely to feature at least one US team.
Already, the Cheetahs and Southern Kings, who were cut from a downsized Super Rugby last year along with Australia's Western Force, play in the PRO14 alongside teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.