Melbourne in a two-horse Super 15 race - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Melbourne in a two-horse Super 15 race

19/08/2009 05:40:45 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne's three Super rugby hopefuls will sit down in the same room for the first time on Thursday to try and nut out a unified bid after governing body SANZAR confirmed the race to become the 15th team was down to two.

Australian Rugby Union deputy chief Matt Carroll will lead a three-man delegation to the southern capital to meet representatives of the Victorian Rugby Union, the VicSuper 15 group headed by former Wallabies five-eighth Mark Ella and the Belgravia Group, associated with the Melbourne Victory A-League franchise.

The bidders have previously met with the ARU individually but are yet to get together after John O'Neill asked them to join forces and produce a "drop dead gorgeous" bid.

SANZAR said on Wednesday it had received just two final expressions of interest for the place in an Australian conference from 2011, Melbourne and South Africa's Southern Kings.

"Both applicants have been invited to provide more information to SANZAR, including a formal application for entry and business plan," a SANZAR statement said.

The ARU chose Melbourne ahead of the Gold Coast, western Sydney and the Sunshine Coast for Australia's bid last week after receiving the three separate submissions from Victoria.

VRU president Gary Gray said he was confident the Melburnians could see off the challenge from South Africa's Eastern Cape.

"Australia's a compelling solution for rugby, SANZAR, Australian rugby, every rugby," Gray told AAP on Wednesday.

"While they may not agree at this stage, I think it's the best solution for South African rugby because a strong and robust competition is going to get the results in terms of interest and eyes on television sets and people coming through the gates.

"It's a fantastic concept, the model of the three conferences ... it sits very well with five-five-five (conferences) out of the three countries and I think it's a vastly improved model on any other for Super rugby."

Gray said while the Victorian bidders were yet to meet, he'd been talking to "various representatives of them".

While New Zealand withdrew the last of its bidders, Taranaki, on Monday, the South African Rugby Union are clinging to their belief a sixth team based in the Republic would be feasible in the Australian conference.

The need to now present a business plan will test that belief, with the Kings having to factor in the extra travel across the Indian Ocean and the odd affect on the tournament of a non-Australian team playing in an Australian conference.

The Kings' bid is being partly headed by Eastern Province president Daniel "Cheeky" Watson, a white former player and anti-apartheid activist who refuses to support the Springboks at World Cups because he does not believe they truly represent the country.

He is the father of controversial former Springbok Luke Watson.

And, in a bizarre development, South African rugby boss Oregan Hoskins has reportedly called on the Melbourne and Southern Kings to merge into a single unit, playing half their games in Victoria and the other half in Port Elizabeth.

"It could be a win-win situation for both unions," Hoskins was reported as saying in South Africa's Weekend Post.

"This would not only reduce the huge cost involved in forming a top class franchise, as they would share expenses, it would also ease the player resources burden."

The next deadline for the bidders is September 25, with a decision expected in October.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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