Australia call to suspend SANZAR

Australia have called for the suspension of the Sanzar working party agreement as the three countries continue to fight and fail to find common ground on the way forward for Super Rugby.

South African rugby have stated that they will continue to work to preserve the Sanzar alliance, despite the organisation facing the gravest challenge in its 14-year history, Andy Marinos, the acting managing director of SA Rugby told a media briefing in Cape Town.

Marinos said that SA Rugby remained committed to Sanzar and believed that every avenue should be explored by the parties before the June 30 deadline to present an agreed competitions structure to potential broadcasters.

The work of a Sanzar task team intended to devise a structure for Super Rugby on which all three parties could agree has been suspended at the request of Australia.

“We’re committed to the Sanzar relationship and have no desire to walk away from it, but it is a cause for concern that Australia and New Zealand have advised SA Rugby that they will be exploring the option of establishing a purely Trans-Tasman competition,” said Marinos.

“That is their right but the Super Rugby format that is currently on the table now has only one stumbling block.

“If we can’t negotiate our way past that, we’re happy to put both models before the broadcasters for their input – or follow Sanzar protocols and go to mediation and arbitration on the issue.”

Marinos said that the sticking point centred on differing attitudes to playing Super Rugby in the June in-bound Test window.

“We’re all agreed on expansion and lengthening the Super Rugby season,” he said.

“To accommodate that, Australia and New Zealand want to continue playing Super Rugby with weakened teams during the June in-bound Test window.

Whilst two of the partners of SANZAR seem happy to play internationals in the June Test window it would seem that little research has been done on this in particular as one can hardly imagine that the likes of England, Ireland, France and Wales would be happy with being reduced to being treated as mid-week teams in favour of a provincial tournament – even if they do tour in June with second stringers.

The Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies could end up with no one to play in June if the Northern Hemisphere nations do not agree to be reduced to mid-week teams.

“We prefer to start earlier – in mid-February – and then suspend playing Super Rugby during the Test window. But because of declining crowds in Australasia – particularly at the start of the season – they would like to delay kick off until March.

“We’ve suggested that South Africa starts the schedule two weeks earlier, while they start in March. But Australia and New Zealand are not prepared to compromise on that idea as they say the break would be an advantage to South Africa.

“For the last 14 years South African teams have been annually disadvantaged by the length of our tour so we know better than anyone about ‘disadvantage’, but there’s simply no way that Australia or New Zealand would be disadvantaged to anything like the same extent by this structure.

“It was their initiative to play through the June Test window but we believe that playing rounds 14 to 17 without the leading players could significantly skew positions on the log and affect the integrity of the competition.”

Marinos explained that the South African position had been thoroughly workshopped with the Super 14 provinces. “We’ve got 14 provinces all playing in two senior domest

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