More mind games from O’Neill as he calls SA’s bluff

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss John O’Neill has reiterated that he still wants the three-nation provincial Super Rugby  competition to continue but called South Africa’s bluff by saying that he has no problem switching to a Trans-Tasman competition with NZ.

O’Neill says that South African rugby would suffer the most if their “brinkmanship” led to the break-up of its partnership with Australia and New Zealand however the reality is that a tournament without South Africa would bring in significantly less broadcasting dollars.

O’Neill says that South Africa’s tactics are to blame for the current Super Rugby expansion impasse which has left SANZAR with no agreed deal to submit to broadcasters by their June 30 deadline.

South Africa run the world’s oldest running rugby tournament the Currie Cup which gets excellent ground attendances and they have refused to expand the Super 14 if it comes at the expense of the Currie Cup.

The Currie Cup has been a breeding ground for Springboks for over 100 years and contributes greatly to the participating Unions annual income.

Australia are desperate to expand the Super 14 into a Super 15 as they have no significant domestic tournament after the TriNations  and therefore have nothing to lose by the expansion.


They did have the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC) but O’Neill cancelled it after it’s first run and opted to focus on the expansion of the Super 14 rather than trying to make the ARC a success.


“The joint venture must remain intact,” O’Neill said. “I have dealt with the South Africans for years in business and sport.

“Part of their DNA is to take it to the brink.

“There’s a moment when they will realise they have taken it far enough.”

“Usually it’s on the steps of the court,” he added, raising laughter from fellow administrators at a televised discussion involving officials from Australian rugby, league, AFL, soccer and cricket.

“If Australia and New Zealand go their own way in a competition with five teams each, and then bring in two teams from Japan, we will live well off that,” O’Neill said.

“But it will be a bad state of affairs for the South Africans.”

“They could run the risk of losing players.”he is quoted by the Daily Telegraph.

South Africa bring the most value to the SANZAR broadcasting deal financially due to their alignment with the bulk of the world’s rugby viewing population in time zones which means that a Trans-Tasman competition with NZ would generate a fraction of the value that a deal which included South Africa would generate.

O’Neill said it was time South Africa’s rugby bosses realised Australia and New Zealand had already given all they could at the negotiating table.

However since Australia have no rugby product after the TriNations to lose South Africans feel that they are doing all the giving and that Australia have given little.

South Africa have come up with several options in order to accommodate Super Rugby’s expansion but they have been rejected by Australia and have subsequently said that if Australia and New Zealand go it alone they will look at playing their rugby in Europe.

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