NZRU working on Super compromise - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZRU working on Super compromise

17/03/2009 09:29:03 AM Comments (0)

The future of Super rugby remains clouded but New Zealand will continue attempts to negotiate a compromise that South Africa and Australia can also live with, New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief executive Steve Tew said on Tuesday.

There has been a steady escalation of tension among the three SANZAR partners as the June 30 deadline to present the organisation's proposal to News Corporation ahead of a new broadcast deal has drawn closer, with Australia and South Africa at loggerheads over which country should be awarded the 15th franchise in an expanded competition.

New Zealand has its own frustrations with South Africa, particularly over the start date of the expanded competition.

Australia and New Zealand want the start of the proposed 22-week competition pushed back to late February or March but that would extend Super rugby into August.

South Africa, however, has refused to move its Currie Cup provincial competition to accommodate the proposed 15-team series and even suggested the Super rugby start earlier in the year, not later.

It has sold its television rights for the Currie Cup from 2011 until 2015 and agreed to refuse any proposal which waters down the competition.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand argue February is too hot to be playing rugby while crowds don't get truly interested in football until autumn.

"On one hand of the extreme, you have South Africa who arguably have got enough rugby in their country already, a very strong domestic competition that pays a lot of bills," Tew told New Zealand's Radio Sport.

"On the other, you have Australia who are absolutely desperate for expansion, no domestic competition and are looking for more and more product, for want of a better word."

Tew said New Zealand was probably somewhere in the middle, veering probably to the South African side of the fence in terms of protecting its domestic game.

"But we are trying to negotiate some middle ground and will continue to play that role," he said.

"That's why our guys are off to South Africa tomorrow morning and that's why discussions will continue right up to when we go to the broadcasters."

The latest twist to the expansion saga came on Monday when South African Rugby Union (SARU) acting chief Andy Marinos said it had rejected a New Zealand-Australia vision of a "Pacific solution".

Faced with what seemed an implacable South Africa, the two ANZAC partners had begun investigating setting up a trans-Tasman competition also involving teams from the South Pacific and Japan to begin in 2011.

Only towards the end of this competition would South Africa become involved, with its leading sides playing off against the top teams in the Australasian conference for the Super rugby title.

"I don't think playing in a championship final between Australasia and South Africa would be attractive to SA broadcasters or the SA public," Marinos told News Limited.

Marinos has insisted a compromise can be reached on all the major sticking points.

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