Gold Coast’s Super 15 dream comes to an end

The Gold Coast’s dream of hosting the 15th Super Rugby team when Super Rugby expands to a Super 15 in 2011 has ended after the Australian Rugby Union this afternoon endorsed Melbourne as the nation’s sole Super 15 bid.


Melbourne  was chosen by the ARU ahead of bids from the Gold Coast, West Sydney and the Sunshine Coast while NSW Country withdrew last week.


The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said Melbourne would be its sole candidate to host a new 15th team in the Super 15 competition.


The proposed Melbourne franchise will have to fend off rival bids from New Zealand and South Africa for a place in the expanded Super 15 competition from 2011, the ARU said.


Chief executive John O’Neill said Melbourne was chosen over applications from western Sydney and rural New South Wales, as well as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions in Queensland.


He said the ARU board unanimously decided that Australia’s second-largest city, which missed out to the Perth-based Western Force when the competition last expanded in 2006, had the best chance of success.


“We are in a three-nation race for the licence and we want the 15th team in Australia, so we need to focus our energy on what will be our most compelling bid,” he said.


Super Rugby‘s governing body SANZAR has ruled that the 15th team will play in an “Australian conference” with the country’s four other Super Rugby teams.


But it has also allowed New Zealand and South Africa to bid to base the team on their shores.


SANZAR is expected to decide on the new team’s location in late October.


O’Neill said the three organisations that submitted separate bids for a Melbourne team would now be encouraged to join forces and submit a single bid to SANZAR.

 

The Gold Coast’s next chance of joining Super Rugby could come if the Super 15 tournament is expanded to a Super 18 and O’Neill has said that this could come as soon as 2013. That tournament would include the likes of Japan and the Pacific Islands.

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