O’Neill hails SANZAR Super Rugby agreement

The Australian Rugby Union on Friday hailed a deal among the three SANZAR unions of the Super Rugby competition that will safeguard the structure beyond 2011.


A split among the three leading southern hemisphere rugby nations –Australia, New Zealand and South Africa — was avoided after talks in Dublin.


ARU Managing Director John O’Neill said final agreement with New Zealand and South Africa was a significant development for the game in the southern hemisphere.


SANZAR will table their plans to broadcasters before the end of next month, ahead of the expiration of the current deal at the end of 2010.


“The ARU said from the outset its first priority was to expand the Super Rugby competition in conjunction with our SANZAR partners, New Zealand and South Africa,” O’Neill said in a statement.


“After what has been a long and at times robust process, that ambition has now been realised.


“We are excited about the future as SANZAR prepares to present to broadcasters by the end of next month.”


New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew has indicated the Super Rugby competition would be expanded in 2011 to 15 teams from the present 14.


“We have previously outlined the Super 15 option and that will be part of the detail, but I’d rather not go further than that at this stage,” the New Zealand Press Association quoted Tew as saying in Dublin on Friday.


“We had a productive meeting, all three parties came to Dublin to try and find a solution and we are delighted to have been able to do that.


“Everyone had to make some compromises, fair to say we are all satisfied — there is no-one overly joyed and no-one bitterly disappointed.”


South Africa had fallen out with the other two nations over details of the plan to expand the Super 14 to 15 teams from 2011 and there were fears that they would break away from the competition.


South Africa wanted to retain the February start to what would be a longer competition with an added team, while New Zealand and Australia wanted a later start which would impinge on South Africa’s Currie Cup and cut into the international season.


Australia and South Africa were also competing for the 15th team.


Sapa-AFP

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