SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) is the body which operates Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship competitions in Rugby Union. It is a joint venture of the South African Rugby Union, the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby Union, formed in 1996.
Created shortly after rugby's move to professionalism in 1995, SANZAR's two products were the Super 12 (now Super Rugby) and the Tri Nations (now The Rugby Championship). This concept was developed by Queensland Rugby Union CEO Terry Doyle, NSW CEO David Moffett and Australian Rugby Union CEO Bruce Hayman. To fund the competition SANZAR looked to News Limited, eventually being offered $555 million over 10 years for worldwide television rights. Rian Oberholzer was the first CEO of SANZAR and the incumbent is Greg Peters.
SANZAR meets annually and is composed of the CEOs from its member unions. Argentina officially joined the Rugby Championship in a meeting in Buenos Aires on 23 November 2011. The Argentine Rugby Union will become a full member of SANZAR in 2016.
Tri-Nations and Super 12: 1996
|This section requires expansion. (April 2015)|
Expansion to Super 14: 2006
In 2007, SANZAR was criticised as being powerless due to its inability to stop New Zealand removing its top 22 players from the Super 14 competition and inability to stop South Africa from removing players from the Tri-Nations.
Potential South African departure
In 2009 there emerged concerns that SARU might opt to breakaway from the alliance over a dispute about the proposed plan to expand Super Rugby to fifteen teams in 2011, voicing its support for the concept generally but disagreeing over its length and format. On 6 May 2009, however, ARU Chief Executive John O'Neill warned that the South Africans, would be the real losers, missing out altogether and potentially losing players, if they went ahead with the split. "The joint venture must remain intact," he urged. "I have dealt with the South Africans for years in business and sport. Part of their DNA is to take it to the brink. There's a moment when they will realise they have taken it far enough." On 20 May 2009, SANZAR announced it had reached agreement on a new deal involving all three nations beginning in the 2011 season.
The Rugby Championship and Super Rugby: 2011
The new deal for 2011 to 2015 included:
- Super Rugby expanded to 15 teams, and split into three conferences, each with five teams and based in one of the three nations. The four current Australian teams will be joined by a new team in the Australia conference; this license was later awarded to the Melbourne Rebels.
- At the same time, the regular season expanded to include 16 matches (8 home, 8 away) per team, with each country playing a double round-robin within its home conference, and playing single matches against four teams from each of the other conferences.
- Super Rugby taking three weeks off in June for the mid-year Tests.
- The play-offs expanded to six teams, with the conference winners joined by the three non-winners with the most competition points without regard to conference affiliation. The two conference winners with the most competition points receive a first-round bye.
- The Rugby Championship will open each year in South Africa, and conclude with two of the three Bledisloe Cup matches between Australia and New Zealand that fall within the Rugby Championship. This will allow Springboks to be released early for their domestic competition, the Currie Cup.
Expansion to Argentina and Japan: 2016
Further expansion was agreed in 2015 to include the Argentine Rugby Union as a full member of SANZAR from 2016. Three additional teams were added to the Super Rugby competition, one each from South Africa, Argentina and Japan. Two regional groupings were formed: the Australasian Group, with five teams in the Australian Conference and five teams in the New Zealand Conference and the South African Group, with six South African teams, one Argentinean team and one Japanese team split into a four-team Africa 1 Conference a four-team Africa 2 Conference.
- Argentine Rugby Union
- Australian Rugby Union
- New Zealand Rugby Union
- South African Rugby Union
- Super Rugby
- Tri Nations
- Deges, Frankie. "Argentina is now part of Rugby Championship". Buenos Aires Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
- Stoney, Emma (17 April 2015). "Super Rugby Faces a Major Overhaul". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 April 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2015.
- Linden, Julian (6 May 2009). "Rugby-Australia warns South Africa not to split SANZAR". Reuters. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
The joint venture must remain intact," O'Neill said. "I have dealt with the South Africans for years in business and sport. Part of their DNA is to take it to the brink. "There's a moment when they will realise they have taken it far enough.
- "Super rugby expansion plans revealed" (Press release). SANZAR. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
- "Outline of the Super Rugby competition structure" (PDF). All Blacks. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.