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White : South Africa shouldn't have a sixth team

Brumbies Super Rugby coach Jake White

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Article Published: Friday 30 August 2013|

Brumbies Super Rugby coach Jake White says that South Africa should not have a sixth Super Rugby team and they should stick with the current 15 team succesful format.

Super Rugby organisers SANZAR will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the future format for Super Rugby when the current broadcast deal expires at the end of 2015.

South Africa applied for a sixth team - the Southern Kings - when the tournament expanded for the last broadcast deal but the franchise was awarded to the Rebels in Melbourne instead.

At the end of 2012 the Lions who finished last in the South African teams were relegated for the 2013 season and replaced by the Southern Kings.

The Lions however regained their Super Rugby status earlier this month when they beat the Kings in a series of home and away promotion and relegation matches.

The Southern Kings are now a Super Rugby team without a tournament and although they will play the last placed South African team next year to try and win back their Super Rugby status many of their players have already left.

Rugby bosses in South Africa have insisted that they want the Southern Kings and the Lions included in Super Rugby from 2016 and they are in a position of power in SANZAR as they have largest viewing numbers and could threaten to break away from the partnership if they do not get their way.

Currently each SANZAR nation - South Africa, New Zealand and Australia - has five teams in three geographical conferences so adding one more team will create an imbalance in the conferences.

White is back in his home country South Africa and in an interview with Ballz Radio he was asked whether South Africa warranted a sixth Super Rugby team he said, "No, no, no."

White said that if one nation had more teams that another it would not be a "true reflection" of playing talent.

The Brumbies coach said that he fears that rugby bosses in South Africa could "bite the hand that feeds them" if they insist on having six teams.

White said that he is concerned that South Africa have been threatening to leave Super Rugby for many years and the tournament could end up being contested by teams from New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Argentina while South Africa play their rugby in the Northern Hemisphere.

"South Africa could go North and see whether its better in the North and see whether the Euro is stronger and whether they can keep their players in South Africa," said White.

"I think that (playing in the northern Hemisphere) could be worse for them, as all the players will start playing in the northern Hemisphere and go there."

There has been much speculation over the future of the Super Rugby format and there are reports that South African rugby bosses are considering leaving Super Rugby and playing a separate tournament with France and Argentina.

The world cup winning coach warned that leaving the SANZAR partnership and Super Rugby could harm South African rugby.

"South Africa must be very wary of the fact that they are in a position of strength now because they were world champions and because they had the Bulls who were dominating Super Rugby know things might change," cautioned White.

"In two years time when they haven't won a title, when they are not the current world champions and then they go to the bargaining table and they sit down and all of a sudden the brand they are trying to sell isn't the same brand that they negotiated five years ago."

White added that he "does not see teams jumping up and down to maybe making South Africa much more wealthy than they are in the position they are now playing Super Rugby."

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