NZRU says time running out for SANZAR - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZRU says time running out for SANZAR

23/04/2009 04:51:25 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chairman Jack Hobbs says SANZAR will fold if issues surrounding a new deal aren't sorted out.

Officials from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are pressing for a solution to the Sanzar impasse over the future of Super rugby.

New Zealand officials are also investigating an alternative Asia-Pacific competition with Australia.

South Africa remains at loggerheads with its trans-Tasman partners over a new broadcast deal for an expanded Super competition, which has to be presented to broadcasters News Ltd by June 30.

The impasse involves South Africa's domestic Currie Cup competition, for which broadcasting rights have sold, with the South African union saying its provinces are reluctant to shift its dates.

There is also dispute over when the Super competition should start and whether Australia or South Africa should get the 15th team.

Hobbs said on Thursday he could not give assurances the impasse would be resolved.

"There a couple of outstanding issues. We have narrowed them down, but unless they are resolved it is likely SANZAR relationship will fold," he said during a break at the NZRU's annual meeting in Wellington.

"That is not our hope, that is not what we would wish for, and not what we are working towards achieving but it is a possibility."

He said New Zealand officials had been quite open with South Africa and that, while negotiating with it on an expanded Super 14, they were also looking at alternatives such as an Asia-Pacific competition with Australia.

"That is not our preference. Our preference is that SANZAR does stay together.

"We think that is best for rugby and the best way forward. We have a couple of hurdles to get over and we have to get over them very, very quickly. Time is ticking."

However, having worked on the 2005 SANZAR negotiations, he said it was not unusual for a difficult protracted process to occur.

"It is something we have been through before."

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said while New Zealand had its domestic rugby competitions protected, the South Africans were adamant about their Currie Cup while Australia was just desperate for more rugby.

"They are three quite diverse drivers. We are trying hard, we have tried to play more of a middle ground role in this negotiation and we are going to continue to play that role and hopefully we will get there," he said.

"The South Africans are adamant there are things they can't agree to with the latest (deal) version that we have been working on, and we are still working with them in that regard."

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