Melbourne storms to the lead for Super15

Even though SANZAR has agreed to keep the details of the Super 14’s future – possibly to a Super 15 – a tight secret, details of the future of Super Rugby have been leaked.

Australian newspaper The Sun-Herald has revealed that a 15th team will be included in the Super Rugby competition from 2011.

SANZAR met in Dublin this week and after the meeting South Africa confirmed it would remain in the Super Rugby competition.

Last week Reds rugby boss Peter Lewis demanded Australian teams play each other twice in the regular season to boost patronage and revenue with local derbies.

A source close to the SANZAR camp confirmed to the paper that that this would, in fact, be the case.

All 15 teams will play each other once, while the regular season will be extended by three rounds, during which teams will play three other sides from their respective pools for a second time.

In Australia for example it would mean that the Waratahs would be likely to have home and away matches with the Reds, Brumbies and Force.

Instead of having six home games one season and the seven the next, it’s believed all teams will have eight home matches a season, creating three extra revenue-making opportunities over two years.

The good news for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans – who last week gave his public support to expansion – is that the 15th team is all but certain to be based in Melbourne.

The length of the Super Rugby was a big talking point at the meeting, Australia making no secret of its intention to extend the season and start it later to compete with the NRL and AFL.

South Africa was opposed to the suggestion, which would affect its prized domestic Currie Cup season, but the two nations and New Zealand were able to agree on a likely four-week extension.

Final details are still to be nutted out but it’s believed the season could be pushed back a week to start on the second last weekend in February.

If the bye rounds remain as expected, this would push the regular round robin season back until the final weekend of May – the same weekend on which this year’s grand final will be played.

Regardless, all three nations have agreed on an overhaul of the finals system, doing away with the four-team structure to make a six-team finals series.

In the model, teams No. 1 and No. 2 would automatically progress to the grand final qualifiers and teams No. 3 and No. 4 would play teams No. 6 and No. 5 respectively. The winners would go on to battle for a grand final berth against the top two teams.

To accommodate the extra two teams, the finals series will be extended by one week, meaning the Super Rugby calendar could run until the end of June, or at least into the third week.

ARU chief executive John O’Neill said from Dublin that although he could not go into the fine details due to the parties agreeing on a pact not to reveal the details, “It is fair to say that Super Rugby will have a significantly bigger footprint from 2011, compared to the past 13 years.”

“The Super Rugby competition will run deeper into the season,” O’Neill told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We will have a massive entertainment presence that will enable us to compete with the other codes from a stronger and more compelling position in the Australian marketplace.

“This is further evolution for our game an

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