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SANZAR Boss Peters defends TriNations timing

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Article Published: Thursday 4 August 2011

SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters has defended his organisations actions in lengthening the Super Rugby tournament as well as holding the TriNations in a rugby world cup year.

Peters said that holding the two tournaments in a rugby world cup year is vital for the economic success of the three southern hemisphere unions.

SANZAR is made up of the three Rugby Unions of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and operates the Super Rugby tournament as well as the TriNations.

The organisation expanded the Super Rugby tournament to 15 teams in 2011 and included a new format which doubled the domestic matches in each country which extended the tournament's length by six weeks.

All three nations have however stressed concerns that the new Super rugby format has the potential to lead to player burnout.

"We hear the concern about player welfare and it is of huge importance," said Peters.

"But without the money from the Tri-Nations this year, because there are no June in-bound tests in a World Cup year, the SANZAR unions would have suffered significant losses," Peters told Reuters.

South African coach Peter de Villiers criticised SANZAR's decision to play the TriNations as well as the expanded Super Rugby tournament even though the TriNations was shortened from 9 to 6 matches.

South Africa subsequently rested their first choice players for the away leg and have been accused of creating fake injuries and not taking the TriNations seriously and instead focusing on world cup later in the year.

"The economic reality is that Super Rugby also drives revenue into the three countries and to their franchises, and is an important business model for them too," Peters told.

"It's the scheduling and the time of our southern hemisphere season that makes it difficult. The question is where we should position these competitions."

Peters also defended against suggestions that the new Super Rugby format which has a conference system favoured Australia as they have the newest and therefore the weakest team which in theory makes the Australian conference the easiest.

"Super Rugby is a joint venture between three partners working together for the strength of that competition. "

"That has happened and, although there's no doubt the new format suits the Australian market - 21 weeks being similar to the ARL (rugby league) and AFL (Australian Rules football) - South Africa and New Zealand derive enough benefit from it as well," Peters said.

Peters is currently touring South Africa to meet face to face with stakeholders to get their feedback after the 2011 Super Rugby season.

"We've sold this format to the broadcasters for five years, so there won't be any fundamental changes and neither should there be after just one year of a new competition."

"There may be some small changes, but the fundamental goal of Sanzar is securing financial success and growing crowds and fan appeal."

"I'd say the new format gets an A+ in Australia and a pass mark in the other two countries," Peters said.

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