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ARU & NZRU commit to Super 14 rugby

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The Australian Rugby Union has dismissed media reports it is a party to plans to replace the provincial Super 14 competition with an annual tournament that excludes South African teams.


New Zealand newspaper the Dominion Post reported Tuesday that leading New Zealand provincial clubs North Harbour, Wellington, Canterbury, Auckland, Waikato, Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Southland have been meeting in recent weeks to discuss a restructure of Southern Hemisphere and domestic rugby.


The report said that ARU boss John O’Neill was “briefed” over the weekend on plans drawn up by the provinces that support replacing the Super 14 with a 14-team “trans-Tasman” tournament that comprised Australian and New Zealand clubs to the exclusion of South African sides.


“The understanding that I was briefed on this group’s plans is incorrect,” O’Neill said, adding that he was casually handed a paper and did not read it for two days.


“Expanding Super rugby is what the game needs,” he said. “There is no deviation from that aim.” The NZRU later Tuesday confirmed it will not back any push for a replacement of the Super 14 rugby competition that excludes South Africa.


NZRU general manager of professional rugby, Neil Sorensen, told the NZPA news agency that such a restructure would be at odds with the union’s preferred position.


“Sanzar’s current position is that it is a very much a three-country expansion of Super rugby with South Africa involved,” Sorensen said.


“The trans-Tasman idea does not include South Africa and that is absolutely not the NZRU’s preferred position at the moment.”

 

SANZAR, comprising the ARU, the New Zealand Rugby Union and the South African Rugby Union, administers the Super 14 and Tri Nations competitions with a broadcasting deal with News Corporation that ends 2011.

The Dominion Post reported that in addition to the trans-Tasman competition, a new Heineken Cup-style tournament would be introduced with matches played every four weeks between 24 teams.


These would include the top sides from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan, the United States, the Pacific Islands and possibly Hong Kong.


Sapa-AP – Super14.com

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