Super Rugby set for expansion

The Super Rugby tournament is set for an expansion from the current 15 teams to 18.

South Africa is set to benefit extensively from the proposed expansion of Super Rugby. Picture:

CAPE TOWN - South Africa is set to benefit extensively from a proposed restructuring of Super Rugby, with the tournament set to adopt a Super 18, four-conference model in 2016.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss Bill Pulver revealed the news to the Sydney Morning Herald website on Wednesday morning, adding that the announcement of an expanded and restructured model to be taken to broadcasters is only a fortnight away.

The expanded format would see the introduction of an additional conference in South Africa, while the Australian and New Zealand conferences would remain unchanged from their current structures.

The Stormers, Sharks, Lions, Bulls, Cheetahs and the Southern Kings will be placed in two pools with a new Argentine team and a final side, which will be out to tender.

To allay concerns over excessive travelling for teams under the new format, each South African conference would face only one of the two Australasian conferences each year.

The intra-conference format would see some slight changes in Australia and New Zealand, with Australasian teams playing two less local derbies in a regular 15-match season. As a result, matches between Australian sides and New Zealand sides would increase to five over the course of the season, one more than the current four.

With South Africa providing almost half of Super Rugby's broadcast revenue, it appears that the governing body SANZAR has met those demands by agreeing on the new tournament structure.

South African Rugby Union (SARU) CEO Jurie Roux has declined to comment on the matter, beyond stating that SANZAR are to set make an announcement on Monday morning.