Japanese Super Rugby side Sunwolves will no longer be part of the Super Rugby competition after 2020, with SANZAAR announcing today that they will go back to a Super 14 format in 2021.
The Super Rugby competition will return to a 14-team competition, where each team will play each other once in a round robin.
"The decision to further consolidate the competition format to a 14-team round robin was not taken lightly," said SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.
"It has involved some detailed analysis and a thorough review of the current and future rugby landscape, tournament costs, commercial and broadcast considerations and player welfare in line with our Strategic Plan.
"Competition integrity, affordability and a competitive playing environment were further key drivers to ensure that an optimal player development pathway remains in place to feed into international rugby.
"Factoring in the above analysis and review, a 14- or 15-team round robin format were considered, as these models delivered best against the criteria we were seeking, including a format that would see each team playing every other team leading into a finals series."
The Super Rugby competition in 2021 will have five New Zealand teams, four South African teams, four Australian teams and the Jaguares from Argentina.
The 14-team round robin format will see the removal of the current three-conference system and will see each team play every other team, home or away, each season.
This means 13 matches for each team, with two byes, in the regular season with the number of home and away matches varying from six to seven based on a two-year alternate match schedule.
This will then lead into a new three-week, best versus best, super-charged, top six finals series.
The top two ranked teams on the competition ladder will receive a bye in week one before hosting semi-final matches against the winners from a knockout round between teams ranked three to six.