Kiwis bid to win Super 15 inclusion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwis bid to win Super 15 inclusion

23/07/2009 03:11:58 PM Comments (0)

Two New Zealand bidders have unveiled ambitious attempts to become the new Australian conference team in the expanded Super 15 rugby competition.

The Taranaki and Hawke's Bay rugby unions, both affiliated to the Wellington-based Hurricanes, joined Melbourne, the Gold Coast, western Sydney, the NSW Central Coast and South Africa's Eastern Cape as potential bases for the latest addition to the southern hemisphere tournament.

The new 15th franchise will form the fifth team in the Australian conference, even if based in New Zealand or South Africa.

The revamped competition from 2011 will see five teams each assigned to South African, New Zealand and Australian conferences.

The five teams will play the other four sides within their conference on a home and away basis, and will also play (home or away) four of the five teams in each of the other two conferences before an expanded six-team final series.

The New Zealand Rugby Union will now assess the applications before deciding whether one, both or neither of the Taranaki and Hawke's Bay bids should be forwarded to Super rugby's governing body SANZAR.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew admitted it could be difficult to justify another franchise in New Zealand and the unions would have to offer compelling evidence if their proposals were to be forwarded for consideration.

"We have said publicly that there is a big question mark over New Zealand's capacity to sustain and achieve success with more than the five Super 14 franchises, so that will have a bearing on our considerations," Tew said.

If ultimately successful, New Zealand would field six franchises despite there being concerns over player depth and dwindling crowd numbers.

"We believe it's important SANZAR have a solid New Zealand alternative on the table for consideration," Taranaki chief executive Mark Robinson said.

"We can provide a professional, well-supported franchise in New Zealand's rugby heartland, and we believe this is a bid that is very hard to counter."

Australia is the frontrunner with Melbourne the favoured location as rugby seeks to gain a foothold in the country's second-largest market.

The South Africa Rugby Union's push for the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings might be pared back with the team starting off in the domestic Currie Cup before a potential promotion-relegation battle with the fifth-placed Super rugby side from the Republic.

The Southern Kings can at least call on a strong fan base - a match between the team and the British and Irish Lion recently drew a crowd of 35,000 to the newly built Nelson Mandela Stadium.

SANZAR is expected to consider bids passed on by the South Africa, New Zealand and Australian unions next month.

Its executive committee then decides how many should proceed to the next stage of submitting a full bid document.

Those bids will be due in mid to late September with a final decision from SANZAR expected in late October.

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