Aus and NZ need South Africa in SANZAR : Meads

The man who is arguably the greatest All Black, Colin Meads, has warned that Australia and New Zealand would be “unwise” to go it alone in Super Rugby without South Africa.

ARU chief executive John O’Neill said on Monday that Australia and New Zealand would consider creating a breakaway competition if they reached an impasse with South Africa on expanding Super Rugby.

But Meads opposed the idea of a competition that excluded South Africa on historical and financial grounds.

Meads is revered in South Africa and has strong links with the country.

“I haven’t read what John O’Neill said, but I’d tread lightly,” Meads told The Australian.

“South Africa is a power in world rugby. They are the current world champions, although that doesn’t mean anything one way or the other.

“There is a huge following in South Africa and a lot of money.

“Australia and New Zealand would be unwise to cut South Africa adrift. They raise a lot more money for SANZAR than do the other two countries.

“You always want to be careful when you are on the backfoot.

“I’m aware there are discussions going on. We haven’t heard too much from the NZRU. They are having their annual meeting next week. I’d be very wary of it. I’d stick with SANZAR and go along with South Africa.”

Main sticking points in the negotiations between the SANZAR partners are the timing, length and who gets the 15th team in an expanded Super Rugby competition that could become a Super 15.

Australia and New Zealand want the season to run from March to August, but this would conflict with South Africa’s domestic provincial competition, the Currie Cup.

The South Africans will not agree to any proposal that will negatively affect the Currie Cup .

Meads said New Zealand’s National Provincial Championship (Air New Zealand Cup) should also be taken into consideration, while Australia needed to create a third-tier competition to develop depth of talent.

“They are frantically trying to keep their Currie Cup ,” Meads said.

“We have our NPC, which we think is pretty good.

“Aussie always struggles when we (South Africa and New Zealand) are playing Currie Cup and NPC. It’s up to them to get another competition going to boost their numbers.

“They had one (Australian Rugby Championship), but they canned it.”

“It looked like good rugby. I suppose it was a financial thing, but they should have built on it.”

Meads said the southern hemisphere nations needed to remain united to counter the political influence of the northern hemisphere countries on the IRB.

“The southern hemisphere needs to stick together more than pull apart,” Meads said.

“They need to get more support at the IRB level. The home unions (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) dictate to us.

“South Africa pulling out of SANZAR would be a bad move. I’d be dead against it.”

And Meads predicted a South African victory in the Test series with the British and Irish Lions.

“South Africa will be too strong for the Lions. They will be too strong up front,” he said.

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