Powerbrokers discuss options for trans-Tasman Super Rugby in 2021 – Sydney Morning Herald

At the bare minimum, Australian clubs anticipate the winner of Super Rugby AU will face the winner of Super Rugby Aotearoa at the end of their 12-week seasons.

But multiple sources have told the Herald Super franchises from both countries want more than just the one crossover match, before a full return to a trans-Tasman tournament in 2022.

The Brumbies beat the Reds in September's Super Rugby AU final.

The Brumbies beat the Reds in September’s Super Rugby AU final.Credit:Getty

Multiple formats have been discussed by clubs for next year, all of which would require free trans-Tasman movement being opened up.

Several formats for an extended cross-over finals are being looked at, and so too is a trans-Tasman knockout competition, which would take place after the respective domestic seasons.

Formats are also being discussed that would see Australian and New Zealand teams play in regular-season competition, albeit within the framework of a shortened season.

One of the formats would see Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa played for a period before two trans-Tasman competitions are run side-by-side, with the 10 Australian and New Zealand franchises split into pools of five.

After playing a round-robin, either the top two from each group could square off in the semi-finals, or the winner of each pool would simply face each other in a grand final.

RA chair Hamish McLennan is a strong advocate for a trans-Tasman competition in 2021 and Highlanders CEO Roger Clark also revealed his thoughts on the concept late last week.

“I think in ’21, you’ll find it will be us and the Australians and in 2022 you’ll find Fiji and a Pasifika team fall into that competition,” Clark said.

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It’s believed Nine – who are closing in on a broadcast rights deal with Rugby Australia – are also eager for a trans-Tasman competition to take place.

Meanwhile, the Wallabies will almost certainly be without Lukhan Salakaia-Loto for the fourth and final Bledisloe Cup Test of the year.

The towering lock suffered an ankle injury in the 43-5 loss to the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday. Coach Dave Rennie has called in Cadeyrn Neville as second-row cover.

Rennie will have to choose between veteran Rob Simmons, uncapped Rebels prospect Trevor Hosea or Neville as his replacement for Salakaia-Loto, who was one of the Wallabies’ best ball carriers in the first two Bledisloe Tests.

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Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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