SANZAR could split over Super 15:Hobbs

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chairman Jack Hobbs says that SANZAR will cease to exist if the the problems surrounding the numerous issues are not resolved.

Officials from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are trying to find a solution to their desire to expand the Super 14 to a Super 15  in order to get more money out of the broadcasters.

An obvious solution however would be for the current tournaments controlled by SANZAR to stay as they are although that seems unlikely given the breakdown in the relationship between the partners of SANZAR – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand and Australian officials are investigating an alternative Asia-Pacific competition with Australia as they cannot come to an agreement with South Africa who want to protect their domestic rugby tournament the Currie Cup .

If SANZAR can agree on the way forward they have until June the 30th to put forward their proposal for the new broadcast deal for an expanded Super Rugby tournament.

Rather strangely there has been almost no talk of expanding the  TriNations which is also part of the SANZAR deal and is in need of a revamp in contrast with the Super 14 which fans outside of Australia seem to be happy with.

South Africa’s domestic Currie Cup competition stands in the way of the expansion and earlier this week the provincial unions in New Zealand who do not have Super 14 teams wrote a letter to the New Zealand Rugby Union stating their unhappiness with the Super 14 being expanded to a Super 15.

This means that the provincial union in New Zealand and South Africa are not happy with the Super 14 being expanded as it will have a knock on effect on the domestic rugby in each nation.

One of the problems with expanding the Super 14 is that there is no available time in the South African rugby calendar to expand in to. New Zealand but even more so Australia want the tournament to start in March but this means that the expanded tournament will finish in August will therefore clash with the Currie Cup .

Another issue is the June window for international matches with Northern Hemisphere teams such as the British and Irish Lions and the nations they make up.

If the Super 14 is expanded there is also the problem of who will get the 15th team as both South Africa and Australia want the team and they are the two Rugby Unions who are getting along the least presently.

Hobbs said on Thursday he could not give assurances the impasse would be resolved.

“There a couple of outstanding issues. We have narrowed them down, but unless they are resolved it is likely SANZAR relationship will fold,” he told AAP during a break at the NZRU’s annual meeting in Wellington.

“That is not our hope, that is not what we would wish for, and not what we are working towards achieving but it is a possibility.”

He said New Zealand officials had been quite open with South Africa and that, while negotiating with it on an expanded Super 14, they were also looking at alternatives such as an Asia-Pacific competition with Australia.

“That is not our preference. Our preference is that SANZAR does stay together.

“We think that is best for rugby and the best way forward. We have a couple of hurdles to get over and we have to get over them very, very quickly. Time is ticking.”

However he said that having worked on the 2005 SANZAR negotiations h

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