Southern Kings

Hoskins admits Southern Kings Super15 defeat




South African rugby boss Oregan Hoskins has all but given up on South Africa having the extra team when Super Rugby expands to a Super 15 in 2011 but still holds hope that his South African players will be able to play for the new Melbourne team.

SANZAR are expected to announce before the end of next month that the new Super 15 team will be based in Melbourne or Port Elizabeth but Hoskins has admitted to the Australian that it is hugely unlikely that his team will win the vote.

For the Southern Kings team to be named as the new Super 15  team all three parties would have to agree but South Africa appear to be resigned to losing the vote.

“We’re outvoted anyway, we always are,” Hoskins told The Australian.

Hoskins was then asked if he was implying that Australia and New Zealand always ganged up on South Africa in crucial SANZAR votes, Hoskins replied with a laugh: “Oh, absolutely! You know that.”

It is highly unlikely that New Zealand would vote for South Africa as it would mean that their team would spend an extended period of time in South Africa when the teams do go on tour. The amount of travel involved would be greatly increased if the team were based in South Africa in contrast to Australia.

It has already been agreed that the new Super 15 franchise will be required to play out of the Australian conference, but even Hoskins was at a loss to explain how the Kings would fit into a round-robin series against the Waratahs, Brumbies , Reds and Western Force.

The functionality of having a foreign team based in what was meant to be a local conference baffles the mind.

Would, for instance, the Australian teams be required to travel to South Africa for some matches or would the Kings be based in Australia for the conference stage of the tournament?

“I really haven’t looked at it very closely, but I just thought it was possible they could spend time in both countries … maybe even more time in Australia, seeing they are playing in the Australian conference,” said Hoskins.

“But I’m not sure if this whole idea will get past first base anyway, because Australia is keen on having its own team in the competition.

“I haven’t given up. I thought we might actually be able to have a combined franchise.”

The Australian put to Hoskins that a combined franchise would not work and he said, “At first glance, it might not but we need to explore the possibility of thinking outside the box and stop thinking tribalistically.”

However when Hoskins was asked whether he would back the idea of Kings players joining the Melbourne Super Rugby team. “Absolutely,” Hoskins said.

“That possibility exists. We’re open to that. Certainly our players are.” which suggests that Hoskins has discussed the seemingly inevitable franchise loss to Australia with member of the Southern Kings.

“It would still give them the opportunity to play Super rugby, even if they are based in Melbourne for that season.”

ARU chief executive John O’Neill has proposed the potential relaxation of rules within SANZAR that would allow Australian, New Zealand and South African players to move freely within the SANZAR alliance and still be eligible to play for their country and Hoskins seems to be behind this idea so if South African players do end up playing in Melbourne they could still be eligible to play for the Springboks.

The same would apply to New Zealand’s players if the rules were relaxed so Melbourne could make someone like Dan Carter an offer to play offshore and he would still be able to play for the All Blacks.

Southern Hemisphere rugby bosses are looking at kinds of ways that will keep their players available to play for the national teams and to keep the talent in the Southern Hemisphere.

“It is important for us in the southern hemisphere to not just catch up,” he said. “We’ve lost big ground.”

“We need to catch up and once again set the pace or else we are just going to see a massive exodus of our players to the northern hemisphere.

“We can’t afford that.” he added.

ARU chief executive John O’Neill has in the past suggested that the expansion to a Super 15 is merely the first in a series of further expansions with the next change coming in 2013.

Hoskins added that he is backing the idea of not only admitting a full-strength Argentina to an expanded Four Nations tournament in 2012, but also calling for the inclusion of Japan, the Pacific islands and even the Americas — the US, Canada and, presumably Uruguay — in an even larger Super rugby tournament played in conferences.

Hoskins confirmed a recent reports that the sale of broadcast rights currently under way would deliver a jump in TV revenue.

“It’s a substantial improvement on the last time,” he said. “I think it’s good for all countries involved that television has voted in favour of the brand.”

Hoskins said that the idea of Argentina coming in to form a Four Nations tournament that, despite the extra team would be more compressed because it would permit two matches each weekend, had been well received by broadcasters.

Although South Africa has received the lion’s share of television revenue in the past because it provided more product, its private sale of its inbound Tests and the Currie Cup tournament meant that all three SANZAR nations would receive an equal split of the money this time.

“I think it’s fair — on Australia and New Zealand anyway,” Hoskins said.

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