This could take the tournament to 18 teams, in which a proposed two conference system with Australia and New Zealand combined and South Africa merged with Argentina, in place of the individual nations forming their own groups.

The notion of a Japanese team is further down the drawing board.

Super Rugby has committed to expansion after the 2015 World Cup, including the reinstatement of the Southern Kings as one of six South African teams.

But they’ll have to make the comp work within the current 21-week period, Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters admitted.

This could means, for example, all Australian teams playing each other twice and the New Zealand teams once, before merging the conferences for a finals series.

Australian Rugby Union ceo Bill Pulver said the ARU hadn’t agreed on it’s preferred format, but said five Australian teams would stay as they are.

“We’re trying to keep a very open mind to what this structure looks like,” he said.

Japan is set to host the World Cup in 2019, so there are commercial advantages in them joining the Super family, although travel would be a problem for Australia and New Zealand teams.

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