Friday is D-Day for Victoria’s Super15 bid

Friday is effectively D-Day for Victoria’s Super 15 bidding rivals as both candidates will present their bids to the Australian Rugby Union board.

The process has not been a pleasant one as the ARU put Melbourne forward as their candidate for the extra team when Super Rugby expands to a Super 15 in 2011.

The three candidates in Melbourne were asked to work together but that now seems impossible and a consortium called VicSuper 15appear to be the favourites

On Friday a reduced eight-man ARU board will hear 40-minute presentations from the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) and the VicSuper15 syndicates in Sydney.

The ARU have declined to shed any further light on the final stage of a process which has been heavily criticised by the VRU and Melbourne club officials for a lack of accountability.

It has been reported that the ARU have sent out legal letters to various media and rugby parties informing them that their comments were being monitored which indicates how the ARU have closed shop on Super 15 developments.

It’s unclear whether a decision will be handed down immediately but with Australia’s official Super 15 nominee to be finalised by September 25 it is expected to be imminent.

The successful Victorian bid team will then go head-to-head with South Africa’s Southern Kings, from the heavily-populated Eastern Cape region, for the new 15th licence.

Regardless of who gets the licence the new Super 15 team will play in the Australian conference in the expanded 2011 competition which makes the Southern Kings bid logistically challenging.

SANZAR who run the tournament are currently negotiating with News Corporation for a new broadcast rights deal, are due to hand down their decision on October 31.

It appears ARU management strongly supports the VicSuper15 bid after The Australian newspaper revealed the VRU consortium, supported by media buyer Harold Mitchell and former Wallabies coach Rod Macqueen, were originally spurned late last month.

Geoff Lord, the head of Belgravia Group, the third bidding syndicate which also owns A-League soccer club Melbourne Victory, confirmed to AAP they were to combine with VicSuper15 to assist with marketing, ticketing and promotion.

The VicSuper15 syndicate, which includes three dissident former VRU board members, has been backed financially by Sydney-based mining magnate Kevin Maloney and supported by former Wallabies skipper Mark Ella and former ARU director Bob Dalziel.

The ARU’s board numbers are currently down from nine to eight, with former Wallabies second-rower Rod McCall resigning as a director after being appointed Queensland chairman.

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