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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's five Super Rugby franchises have shut up shop over the possibility that at least one of their teams will be culled in a proposed restructuring of the competition.
SANZAAR, which is made up of the South African, New Zealand, Australian and Argentine rugby unions, met in London last Friday to address widespread criticisms of the unwieldy 18-team format.
They reached an agreement on the future structure of the competition but refused to announce any details until their stakeholders, including commercial sponsors and broadcasters had been consulted.
Media reports out of South Africa, however, have suggested that up to three teams could be cut though the Cheetahs chief executive Harold Vester also told reporters only two teams, one from South Africa and one from Australia would be cut.
The lack of information from Australia, however, has created a frenzy amongst the country's rugby media, with one of either the Western Force, Melbourne Rebels or ACT Brumbies reported to be in the firing line.
The chief executives of all five franchises issued a joint statement on Thursday calling for the speculation to end.
"The CEOs of the five Australian Super Rugby teams will respect the request from SANZAAR and the ARU not to comment on the ongoing discussions in relation the future of Super Rugby competition," the statement read.
"Given that so many peoples livelihoods could potentially be at stake, the CEOs are respecting the ongoing process that SANZAAR are going through and that speculation of a future format does not help any team."
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom