Moffett: ‘Give disgraceful Boks the boot’

The attacks on South African rugby, following the decision to leave 20-odd of the country’s top Springboks at home for the Australasian leg of their Tri-Nations campaign, continued unabated this week.

David Moffett, one of the chief architects of SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby), is the latest to jump on the ‘bash the Boks’ bandwagon.

Last week Australian Rugby Union (ARU) Chairman Peter McGrath used terms such as “betrayal” and “insulting” to describe the decision by Bok coach Jake White to leave his top players at home – nine of them injured and another 13 on a reconditioning programme in Cape Town.

John O’Neill, the new ARU CEO, followed that up by suggesting that the Aussies will seek “compensation” from SA Rugby, adding that he was “very angry”.

On Monday Moffett said the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is “an absolute disgrace” and the Springboks should be kicked out of the Tri-Nations.

Moffett, the former head of the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia, as well as the New Zealand, Welsh and New South Wales (NSW) rugby unions, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia and New Zealand had to cut South Africa from the next television deal, and instead play more trans-Tasman matches.

“It is imperative that Australia and New Zealand cast South Africa adrift,” Moffett told the newspaper.

And rather than having a Super 14 with five South African Provinces, Moffett said the tournament should be disbanded and replaced by a Super 10 competition with five New Zealand teams and five Australian teams, with the fifth Australian team being based in Melbourne.

He added that if, or when, expansion is required, national teams from the Pacific Islands, based in Australia and New Zealand, should be included.

In 1996, Moffett was heavily involved in the formation of SANZAR, the Super 12 and Tri-Nations, but is now a vocal opponent.

Speaking from New Zealand, where he recently moved after leaving the Welsh Rugby Union, Moffett said this Saturday’s Test between the Wallabies and Springboks at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney had been tarnished by South Africa leaving 20-odd of their best players behind.

Moffett has been particularly trenchant on the subject in his newspaper column with The Press newspaper in Christchurch.

He wrote at the weekend that, “With friends like South Africa who needs enemies? The SARU are an absolute disgrace and should be told immediately by NZ and Australia that they will not be required when the next television rights deal is negotiated [in 2010].

“We are led to believe that all three SANZAR countries had agreed to field their strongest teams, and in fact NZ and Australia had sent their best available players [to South Africa] and filled the stadia and coffers of SARU.

“What was the response of our supposed partner? They waited until after the second Test and selected a B team. If I was a paranoid type I would be thinking conspiracy. Denying NZ and Australia hard match practice against one of the best teams in the world in the lead-up to the World Cup will obviously harm the preparation of the All Blacks and Wallabies.

“Of course, the other injured party in this sorry saga of selfishness by SARU is SANZAR’s major financial partner, News Limited. Their response so far has been muted, but I can imagine their fury behind the scenes.”

Moffett said there was a simple solution – “ditch South Africa from the next TV deal”.

“They behave more and more like northern hemisphere unions and should make it official by playing in competitions in the north,” he said.

“New Zealand and Australia can get a much better deal for fans, players, sponsors and broadcasters by playing three Bledisloes [Bledisloe Cup games] a year, and a home and away trans-Tasman Super 10 competition. Selfishness seems to be the order of the day in the professional ru

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