NSW Country Cockatoos want Super15 team




New South Wales Country Cockatoos, the “sleeping giant” of Australian rugby, have emerged as surprise bidders for a Super Rugby licence when the tournament expand to a Super 15 tournament in 2011.

Melbourne has been considered as the favourite for some time but the Gold Coast and Western Sydney are also in the running.

The NSW Country Rugby Union have, according to the Australian lodged an expression of interest to base a Super Rugby team at Bluetongue Stadium on the Central Coast.

Millionaire businessman John Singleton is believed to be interested in backing the Central Coast bid if it turns out that they have a genuine chance of success.

“We’ve done a bit of homework and we qualify as well as anyone,” NSWCRU president Bruce Worboys told the Australian. .

“In Super Rugby you have to have a minimum crowd of 15,000 at every home game or you will struggle.

“We will base the team at Bluetongue Stadium which has nice facilities.”

“We would also take games to Newcastle and Wollongong.

“The population base of the Central Coast is 300,000 and growing, but NSW Country has a 2.5m population base.”

Worboys said that the NSWCRU was the biggest union in Australia with 121 senior clubs and 80 junior clubs spread across the state.

NSW Country have produced a large number of Wallabies including Adam Ashley-Cooper, Luke Burgess, Matt Hodgson and Josh Valentine.

The NSWRU supports the Cockatoos’ bid, but the Australian Rugby Union are looking to introduce a new private ownership model for the expansion team.

The NSWCRU bid would need strong financial support as SANZAR has asked the bidders to show they could meet the operating costs of running a franchise of between $8m and $12m.

The seating capacity at Bluetongue Stadium would also need to be increased from 20,000 to meet the minimum requirement of 25,000.

The deadline for expressions of interest is tomorrow and SANZAR will select the preferred applicants by August 9. They will then proceed with their Super 15 bids and a full bid should be made by September the 18th with the final decision coming around October the 31st.

SANZAR who run Super Rugby have elected to restructure the Super 14 into a Super 15  tournament with three geographical conferences in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to increase the number of local derbies.

The plan has been criticized in some regions as it gives “more of the same” but has been largely welcomed in Australia.

The new team in the Super 15  will play in the Australian conference but it does not have to be located in Australia.

South Africa have launched the Southern Kings from the Eastern Cape and they are expected to make a bid but SANZAR have indicated that they will strongly consider the geographical location of the new team which means almost certainly that the new Super 15 team will be Australian.

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