A South African Super 15 bid from the Southern Kings based on the Eastern Cape will challenge a Melbourne syndicate for the open spot in an expanded Super 15 rugby competition.
SANZAR, the cooperative group which coordinates rugby competitions between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, announced on Wednesday that it had received two expressions of interest to join the expanded Super Rugby competition from 2011.
The ARU has endorsed Melbourne as its preferred location for the new Super 15 team and is now working with the three applicants from Melbourne to prepare a single application for consideration by SANZAR,” the body said in a statement.
“SA Rugby has endorsed the bid from the Southern Kings franchise based in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
“Both applicants have been invited to provide more information to SANZAR, including a formal application for entry and business plan.”
Under the existing Super 14 structure there are 14 teams and South Africa and New Zealand each have five clubs in the tournament and Australia has four.
Under the proposed new Super 15 format, the competition will be divided into three and the new team will be based in an Australian conference.
Super 15 teams will then play home-and-away against each team in their conference, as well as a round against the bulk of teams from other two conferences.
The Australian Rugby Union last week backed Melbourne as its preferred venue for the new club, and asked three seperate bidders to work together in a unified push.
South Africa Rugby endorsed a bid from the Southern Kings.
SANZAR said both applicants had been asked to submit a formal application for entry and business plan by Sept. 25.
“SANZAR will then review the information received and expects to make a decision on the location of the 15th team in October,” the statement said.
The decision on the new club is expected to be announced before October the 31st.
As the new team will play their matches in the Australian conference Melbourne are considered to be huge favourites to be named as the location of the new Super 15 team.
Whilst the Southern Kings might not have player depth problems and a brand new stadium they are geographically isolated from the rest of the teams in the Australian conference.
Also working against the Kings would be the timing as matches would be played in the Australian time zone.