The tournament will be reduced to 15 teams next season
The fall-out from Super Rugby's decision to cull three teams and restructure the competition has begun.
The South African Rugby Union have agreed to reduce their participation from six teams to four with Australia due to lose one of its franchises as well. The new additions from Argentina and Japan will remain but it appears Super Rugby's grand vision of expansion over the next decade has come to a shuddering halt.
The new format of the tournament will be split into three conferences of five teams, with each team playing a guaranteed 16 games with eight of those coming in home-and-away matches against teams in their conference.
New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew has denied that his union insisted that Australia had to lose one of its franchises next season. Speaking to local station Radio Sport he said: "There will be pain and there's going to be a lot more emotive commentary in Australia and it's not unusual for us to get the blame.
"We had the figures in front of us, that's what some of the more emotive commentary won't take into account," he added.
Australian rugby has seen a lull in fortunes over the last 12 months. The national side lost more games than they won in 2016 which included a clean sweep by England on home soil last June.
So far this season, the five Australian Super Rugby teams have played a total of 31 games losing 23.
The South African rugby Union has agreed to let the newly formed Franchise Rugby Committee decide which teams it will enter for the 2018 season. The Australian Rugby Union have yet to decide how they will proceed.