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South Africa and Australia already at odds over Super 15

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The decision to look into expanding the Super Rugby tournament from a Super 14 to a Super 15  has already heightened tensions between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.


SANZAR comprised of the South African Rugby Union, the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby Union have to come to an agreement on future formats by the end of June this year when they must submit their proposals for five year period starting in 2011.


There are however a number of issues revolving around the timing, structure and the 15th team that will have to be resolved before they can submit their proposal.


SANZAR chief executive Andy Marinos who is also SA Rugby Chief and ARU boss John O’Neill are already at odds over the Australian’s decision to discuss the content of last week’s SANZAR meeting in Dubai with the Australian media.


Marinos was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and is a former Wales international player and O’Neill is a former banker.


“We felt he had too much to say in public about SANZAR,” Marinos told Sondag.


“That right belongs to the secretariat of SANZAR, which currently rests with South Africa.”


SANZAR have no central office and take it in turns to manage their tournaments and it is currently South Africa’s turn. 

 

“It wasn’t an easy meeting and we know each nation is fighting for the rights of his own back yard,”

“It is an extremely delicate time for negotiations and we don’t feel it is right to discuss all the details in the public domain.” said Marinos.


“I told him to keep quiet in the future about such matters.”


South Africa and Australia are going head to head for the 15th team that (if the expansion goes ahead) will be based in Australia as they have four teams and their partners have 5 each.


The fight over the 15th franchise could see the relationship between the two countries deteriorate further.


“It is not for John to decide who gets the 15th franchise, it is a SANZAR decision,” added Marinos.


South Africa already have plans to launch the Southern Kings – an Eastern Cape-based franchise – against the British & Irish Lions in June and Marinos hopes they will be given the nod as the 15th team.


“We (SA Rugby) believe it should go to the Eastern Cape franchise and that is where we stand,” he said.


“The days that other countries walk all over us are over.”


“We will do what we feel is right for South Africa, within the SANZAR context, and nothing else.”


A major obstacle for the new tournament is when the tournament will begin.

 

As Australia have no domestic rugby tournament like the Currie Cup and the Air New Zealand Cup they want the tournament to start in March and run until August which effectively fills their calendar.

The problem with starting in March is that the dates will clash with the Currie Cup and the Air New Zealand Cup and push the TriNations back until September.


South Africa who have already sold the TV rights to the Currie Cup are determined the new competition will not encroach on their domestic showpiece event and would prefer an earlier start.


For any changes to be adopted to the current SANZAR schedule all three parties have to agree and any one party can veto a change. Someone will have to compromise.

 

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