Domestic derbies key to allowing Reds to play

Super Rugby bosses are investigating an emergency redraft of the competition with domestic derbies only which would limit the financial turmoil for teams.

Whiteboard plans are in the formative stage but it would mean the Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels, ACT Brumbies and Japan's Sunwolves, currently based in Australia, only playing matches among themselves.

Left-field thinking from ruling body SANZAAR is needed to solve the complex issue of a 15-team competition played in five countries when border and travel restrictions have been tightened to limit the coronavirus scourge.

 

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Stadiums Queensland, which manages and promotes major facilities across the state, has convened a sports summit at the Gabba on Tuesday for representatives of teams like the Brisbane Broncos, Brisbane Lions, Brisbane Roar and Reds to discuss the complex issues that have been triggered.

"It's a collective issue for sport, and all businesses, not just for us feeling the pinch," Queensland Rugby Union chief executive David Hanham said.

SANZAAR has said it will "explore" ideas to keep rugby alive so whether Argentina's Jaguares are even willing to relocate to play only in South Africa is a hurdle when health is the No. 1 priority.

Only 47 games of the season have been completed which is a long way short of the 127 promised to broadcasters for the $57 million-a-year deal that nourishes every level of the code.

Super Rugby has already been suspended "for the foreseeable future".

Having to repay any of those monies because of a cancelled competition would be a disaster so finding a way to play as many games as possible, even in empty stadiums, is essential.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has already suggested "innovating", by only playing internally in New Zealand, would have his support if the four other Kiwi sides were the only opponents.

"The key for us is to understand what is the possible future for the competition and how or if it can continue," Hanham said.

"Credit to Stadiums Queensland for leading the discussion because it has to be a collaborative response.

"You talk to publicans on Caxton Street near Suncorp Stadium, caterers and so many other groups and the ripple effect is significant just looking through the sport's lens on this major issue for the community."

Ground rental relief would be one idea to ease the financial burden on clubs expecting to play in empty stadiums or even a delayed payment of payroll tax.

Hanham said there would be a QRU hook-up with club officials today to decide whether Saturday's opening round of Premier Rugby went ahead or under what guidelines.

Sunwolves chief executive Yuji Watase said his team, which has already played two games in Australia that were relocated from Japan, wanted to play on.

"Everything will be decided by SANZAAR but the team wants to keep going, we'd like to take a swing," Watase said using a baseball analogy.

 

Originally published as Domestic derbies possible solution for Super Rugby as travel restrictions bring competition to standstill