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Sanzar gets go ahead for Super 14

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The SANZAR rugby alliance has struck a five-year, 323 million US dollar broadcasting rights deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced Wednesday.

The deal will allow SANZAR — the alliance between the South Africa, New Zealand and Australia rugby unions — to press ahead with plans to expand the Super 12 competition into a Super 14 with additional teams in the West Australian city of Perth and in South Africa in 2006.

It replaces a 10-year 555 million dollar broadcast rights agreement which expires next year and represents a 16 percent increase on an average annual basis over the existing contract.

ARU chief executive Gary Flowers said the agreement was a major vote of confidence in rugby that would allow SANZAR to move ahead with its expansion of the Super 12 and Tri Nations series.

“This agreement secures the future of rugby in Australia, both at an elite level and a grassroots level,” Flowers said.

“It allows us to expand the Super 12 from 69 matches to 94 Super 14 matches from 2006 onwards. It allows us to expand the Tri Nations series from six Test matches to nine Test matches and importantly, it will enable us to fund the continued growth of the game at the grassroots level.

“In spite of talk of a depressed global sports rights market and the odd doomsayer, the new SANZAR broadcast agreement is well in excess of the original deal that has served rugby and its broadcasters so well.

“Super 12 and Tri Nations crowd figures and television audiences have grown at phenomenal rates over its nine-year history. With participation also growing at record rates and now with News Ltd giving rugby this major vote of confidence, the future of the game is very bright indeed.”

News Limited acquires the rights for New Zealand, Australia and Britain, with Supersport acquiring the rights for Africa, the New Zealand Rugby Union said.

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