Gold Coast & W.Sydney should wait for Super18




Melbourne has won the backing of the Australian Rugby for the right to be host the 15th team when Super Rugby expands to a Super 15 in 2011 but the Super Rugby dream is not over for Western Sydney, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.

SANZAR has indicated the expansion of Super Rugby will not necessarily end with the move to the Super 15 teams in 2011 as a Super Rugby may be on the cards as early as 2018.

A new competition format ‘ where five teams will play in an Australian Conference, five in a South African Conference and five in a New Zealand Conference ‘ will offer the option of increasing those numbers to six or more per Conference at a later stage.

Other expansion options would also be available if teams outside the SANZAR nations were to be included in the competition.

“We believe Western Sydney, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast all have great prospects for the future,” Mr O’Neill told The Daily.

“At this stage, though, Sunshine Coast does not have a stadium.

“Gold Coast and Western Sydney certainly had strong applications and we are absolutely determined to grow the game in the western suburbs of Sydney where the junior numbers are strong and the population continues to increase.

“This is not the end of the aspirations those regions have to be part of Super Rugby.”

While the 15th team will play in the Australian Conference as part of a revamped and extended Super Rugby format, interested parties in South Africa and New Zealand are also bidding to have the side based within their national boundaries.

“It was for this reason that the ARU Board accepted a recommendation from Management to put forward only one bid to the next stage of the selection process,” ARU managing director and CEO John O’Neill said.

“The decision to be made by SANZAR before the end of the year is not where in Australia the team will be based ‘ but in which country.

“Therefore, it will be in the ARU’s best interests to proceed with what we consider to be our best and most compelling option.”

“At this stage in the evolution of Super Rugby, we believe Melbourne has the best chance of success,” O’Neill said.

“We are in a three-nation race for the licence and we want the 15th team in Australia. So we need to focus our energy on what will be our most compelling bid.

“However, that is not to say we are turning our backs on other areas that we consider extremely important to our strategic plans and future development.”

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