ARU eye Newcastle as venue for Super 15

Newcastle could come into the reckoning as a host city for a Super Rugby expansion team when SANZAR meet in Dubai next week to consider the future of the southern hemisphere provincial series.

For those that don’t know the Newcastle metropolitan area is the second most populated area in the state of New South Wales and is 162 kilometres north of Sydney.

Next week SANZAR executives will meet in Dubai (coincedentally the location and time of the Sevens World Cup) in order to discuss the way forward for SANZAR and Super Rugby.

ARU boss John O’Neill has already described the meeting as “make-or-break time”.

“That’s not an alarmist statement,” said O’Neil.

The ARU boss knows that they have until June the 30th to agree on a proposal to put forward to the broadcasters for the next five years.

The new broadcast deal will decide how the TriNations, Super14, Air New Zealand Cup and even the Currie Cup will look from 2011 onwards.

Super Rugby is the big issue as it will decide how the road ahead looks. If Super Rugby  is expanded or moved to start in March it will have a knock on effect on all of the tournaments that follow it in the calendar.


The Air New Zealand Cup and Currie Cup could even fall away if one idea is taken up as SuperRugby could be extended to 23 weeks leaving not enough time for other tournaments.


Expanding the Super 14 does not appear to be in the player’s interest though as 15 All Blacks failed to get through the first two rounds of the Super 14 due to injuries from the increased amount of rugby being played.

“We need to get our ducks in a line as a joint venture. The world economic environment is a whole lot different to what it was 12 months ago, and we have to be very realistic about the market,” O’Neill told the Australian.

Last week South Africa expressed their commitment to SANZAR but the Australian says that Australian and NZ officials will still head to Dubai next week uneasy about what surprises the South Africans might spring on them.

It is believed that South Africa have their hearts set on expanding Super Rugby but not to Japan where Australia have been pushing hard. SA Rugby plan to launch a sixth Super Rugby  team in the Eastern Cape against the British Lions  on June the 16th.

South Africa have committed to doing their best to get that 15th Super Rugby team into Super Rugby which will not please O’Neill as it would mean that South Africa have six teams and Australia four while New Zealand have five.

By rights if any expansion is to take place it should be in Australia as they currently have the least amount of teams and they are in the middle of New Zealand and South Africa.

O’Neill said the decision made would be in SANZAR’s best interests.

However speaking with his ARU hat on, he said a whole range of options opened up if Australia’s push for the inclusion of Japan was accepted.

“The team could be Tokyo-based or based in Australia, from the Gold Coast to western Sydney to Melbourne. And with the Energy Australia Stadium in Newcastle set to be boosted to a 40,000 capacity to support Australia’s FIFA World Cup bid, who knows, you might end up with a Super rugby team based there,” he said.

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