June Tests blocking Super15

New Zealand Rugby Union boss Steve Tew says that aside from the problem of who should get the 15th Super Rugby team if the Super 14 is expanded in 2011 the June test window is another problem for SANZAR.

Australia and South Africa have been involved in taking public snipes at each other in the media while New Zealand have stayed out of the cat fight to some degree.

Tew has reaffirmed that his organisation and Australia are looking at a Plan B that would leave South Africa in their own pool and they would then only join the tournament when the top teams have qualified.

South Africa have the largest TV market and therefore the largest portion of the money as they are in line with the bulk of the world’s population and have thus been throwing their weight around in the negotiations.

Tew however told Sunday News that South Africa’s money doesn’t mean they hold all the chips in the negotiations.

Tew added that work on a plan B option for an Asia/Oceania competition has intensified but that there is no obvious solution as to where to fit the June tests from 2011 as Australia want the expanded tournament to run through June to August leaving no gap for the June Tests.

As South Africa bring the biggest portion of money to the SANZAR partnership there has been talk in the media that they are able to call the shots but Tew denied this.

“We completely disagree with that.

“South Africa have the largest television market, there’s no doubt about that.

“But you could easily argue Australia has the greatest potential because it’s an untapped market.

“We have a significant advantage around the strength of our teams, the history we bring and the value that’s always ascribed, particularly to the All Blacks.”

Tew said that the NZRU were not nervous about the negotiations on the future of Super Rugby after 2010 as the NZRU and ARU have pressed on with a back-up option.

That back up option is for a Super 12 competition with five sides from New Zealand and Australia, one from the Pacific Islands and one from Japan.

The top placed teams from that series would then play in a series against the top South African sides.

“We’ve been talking to Australia for quite a long time,” Tew said.

“Not in too much detail, that’s really just started to become a more necessary issue in the last month or two.

“That’s just good business practice. You’ve got to have a back-up option and you’ve got to mitigate your risks in doing so.”

From a gate perspective it could be argued that the Plan B option is more appealing than plan A as historically South African teams draw smaller crowds in New Zealand than games against Australian or other New Zealand sides.

This would be a boost for the individual Unions but not as much for the national unions as the real money comes from the TV deals.

“Whatever we decide will have some advantages and disadvantages.

“An Australasian or Asia Pacific conference potentially has some advantages, but ultimately all of this will be determined by what value the broadcasters put on the offers we put.

“Because if they’re not prepared to pay enough we won’t be doing it.”

Tew then turned to yet another stumbling block with the Super 15 . If the ARU and NZRU get their way with a Super 15  from March to August there will be a big problem with when they would hold the June tests against northern hemisphere nations.

“That remains one of the big issues for us.

“We don’t see an obvious perfect solution.” he told Sunday News.

“You finish the competition before the June internationals start and then you cram them in and you don’t give yourself an oppo

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