March 14, 2017 / 3:05 AM / 5 months ago

Rugby-Super Rugby to be cut to 16 teams - Cheetahs boss

MELBOURNE, March 14 (Reuters) - Super Rugby will be cut from 18 teams to 16 for next season following a meeting of governing body SANZAAR in London last week, Harold Verster, chief executive of the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs told South African media.

SANZAAR, which is made up of the South African, New Zealand, Australian and Argentine rugby unions, met last Friday to address widespread criticisms of the unwieldy 18-team format, which was introduced last year.

Online news portal Netwerk24 cited Verster as saying one of South Africa's six teams and one of Australia's five would now be cut from the competition for 2018.

"There was even speculation that we would return to a Super 12, but my information is that it is going to be reduced from the current 18 to 16 teams, which means the Cheetahs are safe," told .

"There is much discussion about the current series and the format and that two South African teams and one Australian team would drop out.

"All I can say is that we are safe. I keep my ear to the ground."

The chief executives of Australia's five teams were to hold a conference call with the national rugby union later on Tuesday.

SANZAAR said on Saturday it would issue a statement "in the coming days" on the future of the competition after stakeholders hold 'final' consultations this week. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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