ARU, NZRU losing faith in South Africa - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

ARU, NZRU losing faith in South Africa

By Jim Morton 01/05/2009 05:24:31 PM Comments (0)

A 10-team trans-Tasman competition is being drawn up to replace rugby's Super 14 as Australia and New Zealand consolidate contingency plans following a dramatic impasse with South Africa.

Australian Rugby Union supremo John O'Neill on Friday warned South Africa the ANZAC partners were well prepared to move ahead with their alternative if the Republic could not decide upon an acceptable plan for Super rugby expansion from 2011.

O'Neill said the proposed back-up competition was also highly attractive to broadcasters, who are waiting to start negotiations on June 30 for a new five-year.

The SANZAR alliance is almost at breaking point as three-way talks have come to a halt just 60 days before a new Super 15 structure is to be agreed upon to take to News Corporation and Super Sport.

Senior Australian and New Zealand officials met in Sydney on Thursday to discuss their contingency plans after South Africa accused Australia of suspending talks.

O'Neill said a two-round "Asia-Pacific competition" was a viable plan B, which could easily start without complications and may include two Japanese teams in the future.

"We didn't start all this with a trans-Tasman option but it's a functional option and (broadcasters) find it quite attractive," he said.

"You could add one more team or three more teams and make it a Super 10 or Super 12. Down the track you could have two teams based in Japan.

"It's time zone friendly. If you played two rounds which you would have to (to make 22 weeks) you would have an avalanche of local derbies."

With time running out to present an agreed Super rugby plan to broadcasters, Australia and New Zealand have demanded South Africa respond before a May 14 meeting in Dublin.

While O'Neill said the three parties had previously agreed to an expanded 22-week competition and then a streamlined compromise, he was frustrated by South Africa's continued backflips and was concerned by what further compromises they would demand.

He said the Republic stood in the way of a successful future Super competition by placing more importance on their domestic Currie Cup and demanding the admission of the Eastern Cape's Southern Kings as their sixth franchise.

O'Neill said it lacked common sense to have a sixth South African team when the new expansion plans dictated five franchises in each national conference.

The ARU are committed to a fifth Australian team with Melbourne the favourite ahead of Gold Coast to win a potential licence.

South Africa had suggested their teams could start the season early with local derbies in February, allowing New Zealand and Australian provinces to catch up when they play through the June Test window.

But both the NZRU and ARU agreed a staggered start would not appeal to fans and broadcasters and impact ambitions to improve the competition.

Meantime, ARU are requesting the annual Tri-Nations Test series between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa not be played under all the experimental law variations which have been used in the Super 14 for the last two seasons.

In the interests of consistency, O'Neill and Wallabies coach Robbie Deans want to see the same laws put in place across the world immediately after a host of law changes were agreed to at an IRB rules meeting.

The controversial sanctions law, with referees awarding free kicks rather than penalties for many breakdown infringements, has been put on hold until after the 2011 World Cup and the ARU feel there's no point playing under dead experimental laws in the Tri-Nations and then changing later in the year.

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