SA Rugby reject Trans-Tasman solution for Super Rugby

South African Rugby bosses have rejected a proposed idea for Super Rugby that would have seen Australia and New Zealand almost go it alone a trans-Tasman Super rugby competition but say that they are willing to work together in order to solve SANZAR’s problems.

Since the announcement at the start of March from Dubai that SANZAR would investigate expanding the Super 14 into a Super 15 ahead of their June 30th deadline there has been little else other than unrest within SANZAR with a steady escalation of tension.

South Africa in particular have been portrayed in the media spat as being beligerent but it should be noted that they are simply protecting their own assets – the Currie Cup.

Australia and South Africa are at loggerheads over which country should be awarded the 15th franchise in an expanded Super Rugby competition.

New Zealand and Australia want the new tournament to start in March so that it can run until August although they have yet to come up with a solution for where to fit in the June Internationals that currently generate a large income.

South Africa have refused to move the Currie Cup which is the world’s oldest running rugby tournament even though ARU Boss John O’Neill says that South Africa should just drop it as there is no room in the calenday for a second tier tournament.

O’Neill told the same thing to New Zealand with regards to their Air New Zealand Cup but his comments are easily said when you have no second tier tournament to lose like Australia.

As the SANZAR partners were at loggerheads over the expansion Australia and New Zealand started investigating a trans-Tasman competition also involving teams from the South Pacific and Japan to begin in 2011.

South Africa would then join the tournament later on in the calendar when their top teams would progress into a finals series to face the top teams from the Australasian conference.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian yesterday, SA Rugby’s acting chief Andy Marinos said that the trans-Tasman option was a non starter as far as South Africa are concerned.

“I don’t think playing in a championship final between Australasia and South Africa would be attractive to SA broadcasters or the SA public,” Marinos told The Australian.

What this means that there are just three ways forward for SANZAR. The first is to leave the tournaments as they are which would gain much support from many fans who appear to be happy with the existing format.

The second option would be for South Africa to go it alone in Super Rugby and perhaps play in a European competition of some sort.

The third option would be for the SANZAR partners to cool down and reach a compromise.

Marinos is an advocate of reaching a compromise and he says that a compromise could be reached on all the major sticking points and even denied that there is an impasse.

“I wouldn’t necessarily view it in that dramatic a light,” Marinos said.

“What we’ve clearly got is three countries that have very different backyards and very different competition structures that they’ve been dealing with and it’s never easy to get it to sync into one happy format.

“The reality is that there is going to have to be some compromise on all fronts to make sure it goes forward.”

South Africa are however sticking to their guns on the Eastern Cape Team the Southern Kings inclusion even though they have agreed that the new team will be in the Australian conference as it would make three pools/conferences of five in each country.

Asked how that would work, Marinos replied: “I don’t see it as any different to a Japanese, or Canadian, or for that matter New Zealand team playing in the Australian conference.”

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