O’Neill getting tired of SA’s Super stalling

Australian Rugby Union boss John O’Neill says that he is fast losing patience with what he is looking at as South Africa’s stalling to expand the Super 14 into a Super 15.

There have been reports that the South African Rugby Union will sign off on a later start for the  Currie Cup but O’Neill says that he has not ruled out going it alone with New Zealand.

O’Neill says that he remains frustrated that negotiations seem to be moving at a snail’s pace and is treating South Africa with caution.

“We’re still talking. It’s very ambiguous at the moment.

” I think all the moving so far has been by Australia and New Zealand, that’s the truth of it, and you get to a point where you can’t move any more,” O’Neill told NZPA in Sydney on Monday.

“Australia and New Zealand have shifted, and all we have out of South Africa is the press release that came out, which I’ve held up to the light and I still don’t understand it.

“I’m sure we’ll hear more this week, but it’s a very difficult negotiation.”

SANZAR who own and manage the Super Rugby and the  TriNations have met in Perth and in Johannesburg want to expand the Super 14 but have yet find common ground which is preventing the expansion.

Australia has largely been the driver behind the Super14’s expansion as they have no significant domestic rugby tournament following the TriNations.


Expanding the Super 14 would push the Super 14 to August, the TriNations to September and then the end of year tours would follow on from there.

The stumbling block is South Africa’s and the world’s oldest running rugby tournament the Currie Cup for which South Africa have already sold the television rights to and Saru has said its provinces are reluctant to shift.

Attendances in Currie Cup matches are still strong and provide much needed income for the country’s provinces. Those attendance figures would drop if South Africa’s star players were not playing in the Currie Cup and playing in another tournament.

Should the Super 14 be expanded to a Super 15 the tournament would be broken into geographic conferences and would start in early March and end in early August, which was a non-negotiable for New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew says that a compromise is not ideal but that is potentially a workable and innovative solution, O’Neill remained unmoved.

“Inevitably you always have a plan B. Our preference is still very much a Super 15, a round and a half (24 weeks), what we call the Perth outcome,” O’Neill said.

“We’ve been absolutely consistent about that. We shifted to the Sandton option which was a compromise and we’re still waiting to hear what conditions that South Africa is attaching to the Sandton option.

“But if you end up with a complete impasse, we’ve got a game in Australia and New Zealand that requires a big chunk of mass entertainment product.

“If it can’t include South Africa then trans-Tasman and Asia-Pacific options have to be looked at.”

Once the Currie Cup obstacle has been negotiated then there is the problem of when to play the June Tests and then the issue of who will get the 15th team as South Africa have insisted that they should have it even though it will be based in Australia.

Many fans are against the expansion of the Super 14 as they feel that the standard of rugby dropped when Super Rugby was expanded from a Super 12 to a Super 14.


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