NZ Rugby is content with its Australian counterpart's involvement in Super Rugby, despite the competition becoming heavily lopsided in Kiwi favour.

As NZ Rugby and Rugby Australia chief executives Mark Robinson and Phil Waugh meet in Auckland, along with Super Rugby Pacific interim chair Kevin Molloy, the long-term strategy for the competition was a main point of the involved parties.

The competition is moving towards a completely independent governance model, free of the two respective national bodies, which have often failed to see eye-to-eye.

Becoming fan-centric is a clear objective from all parties to see Super Rugby Pacific remain strong moving into the future, but the topic of Australia's representation stands out as a stickingpoint.

Since Super Rugby reformed after COVID-19, Australia has had five teams - NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies, Western Force and Melbourne Rebels.

That 2020 restructure saw South Africa's five teams move north to play in the newly formed United Rugby Championship, leading to a severe dilution of quality and New Zealand teams dominating the competition.

An Australian side last won Super Rugby in 2014, which was also the last time any of its sides reached the final. New Zealand teams have reached the competition final since 2011 and won nine of the 11 available titles. 

Consensus dictates that five Australian teams are too many, with the national talent pool stretched too thin across too many sides.

Given the need for Australia's presence after South Africa's departure, that likely won't change soon, with the current competition format locked in until at least 2030.

Robinson insists Australia's place in Super Rugby Pacific is vital and it will be afforded time to return to its former glory.

"They've got a huge talent pipeline in Australia, we all acknowledge that," he said. "They're working really hard to create that parity and consistency across all their environments, we all understand that.

"They're clearly working through some more immediate challenges that they're developing a plan around. We think, clearly, with scale of population, how they're orientated to the Pacific and other parts of the world, they will bring a huge amount to the table.

"We acknowledge that they need a bit of time in a couple of areas at the moment to work through that."

As the All Blacks eligibility laws remain an issue, given captain Sam Cane's call to see players remain available despite playing overseas, Robinson hints a change could come - but not any time soon.

Asked if NZ Rugby would allow players to be based in Australia, while remaining eligible for the All Blacks, Robinson concedes openness to those ideas was vital from all sides.

"Certainly, there's always an open-mindedness to considering conversations like that," he said. "However, at the moment, we're also quite clear that our eligibility protocols are very clear.

"We, from time to time, have conversations about those and we'll be willing to do in the future, but we think there are other opportunities in the sector to look at this competition that we can focus on at the moment."

2023-12-11T05:32:20Z dg43tfdfdgfd