July 15, 2020 / 1:13 AM / a month ago

Super Rugby needs strong, viable sides - Foster

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - All Blacks coach Ian Foster has joined in the broadsides being fired back and forth across the Tasman Sea about the future of Super Rugby by warning that any revamped competition needed to be competitive and financially viable.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - New Zealand Press Conference - The Lensbury, London, Britain - November 6, 2018 New Zealand assistant head coach Ian Foster during a press conference Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

New Zealand Rugby are poised to release their preferred competition format this week, with just a trans-Tasman structure involving at least eight teams expected to be unveiled.

Rugby Australia, however, have said they are annoyed the format would include the five existing New Zealand teams and have just two or three Australian sides.

But Foster said the competition needed to be relevant to players and fans.

“This is not a charity. We’ve got to actually make sure they’re feasible, they’re financially viable and the public are going to really get in behind them,” Foster told NewsHub, speaking about limiting the number of Australian sides.

“We’ve seen in the past that if you let in teams that actually can’t survive, then you’ve got to keep changing the competition around.”

The war of words between the two countries over the competition future has been ratcheted up in the last week with various current and former officials voicing their opinions.

One of the biggest concerns in New Zealand has been the strength of Australian teams. Super Rugby sides in Australia haven’t challenged for the title since the New South Wales Waratahs won the competition in 2014.

The only Australia teams to make the playoffs since 2016 have been the domestic conference winners. New Zealand sides have also dominated their Australian counterparts, with one winning streak lasting 40 games and more than two years.

“We’ve got to do whatever we can to get competitive teams against our teams,” Foster said.

“We’re pretty secure in our five so once they (Australia) get their number, I guess we sit around and have a conversation.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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