Super 15 teams still in the dark

Teams hoping to be considered for the Super 15 when Super Rugby is expanded in 2011 have yet to receive crucial documentation to allow them to bid for a place in the tournament.

Super Rugby‘s governing body SANZAR will submit its proposed 24-week competition to bank-rolling rights holder News Limited on Tuesday.

News Limited has the first right of refusal on the proposed tournament, which would begin in 2011 after the current rights deal expires at the end of next season.

The decision on where to base the 15th team was never going to be made the June 30 deadline, but Australian Rugby Union officials had previously said bidders would receive the criteria they are expected to meet before then.

The expansion team will play in an Australian conference and a bizarre South African bid with Melbourne and the Gold Coast in the running for the place.

The teams in the running are reluctant to criticise the bidding process but are said to be perplexed that they have not yet received the crucial criteria.

“We’ve had no indications on anything so we’re just sitting and waiting to see what happens,” Gold Coast bid team chief Terry Jackman told AAP.

“It seems a bit strange. They’ve had a few Test matches to worry about I guess.”

Victorian Rugby Union president Gary Gray added: “We are looking forward to soon receiving the SANZAR criteria for the expression of interest process.

“We can’t go as far as we’d like to until we understand what the criteria is and all of the details surrounding it.”

ARU deputy chief executive Matt Carroll said bidders could expect the criteria as early as next week, “depending on SANZAR”.

The bidding teams are are keen to find out their fate so that they can start planning, recruiting players and staff as soon as possible.

“Obviously the later it gets in the year the more pressure it puts on the winning consortium … to properly prepare,” Gray said.

“The longer it goes, your opportunities become weakened to maximise the strength of your team.”

South African side the Southern Kings are reportedly so confident they will get the go-ahead to be the fifth “Australian” side, they have started recruiting players.

“I don’t know how that will work but we respect their right to have a crack and that will create good competition and keep everyone on their toes,” Gray said.

The Victorians say that they will search the world for a high profile coach should they get the green light.

“Melbourne will need headline coaches and headline people related to the team in terms of players,” Gray said.

“This is an international game as has been proved by the decision, which was a fantastic one, for Robbie Deans to coach the Wallabies.

“Some of the best Australian coaches are currently coaching overseas.

“We could have a South African, we could have an Englishman, it’s a question of getting the right person that fits into the culture of the team.”

Gray also hinted the defunct Australian Rugby Championship’s Melbourne Rebels could be revived as a Super 15 outfit, although he said no decision had yet been made on a team name or colours.

“We’ve already got some equity in that brand,” he said.

“It’s a positive in Melbourne, it was seen as successful.

“It fits very well in terms of its values, it’s sort of an underdog which Melbourne will always be in the rugby community.”

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