South Africa have emphasised their commitment to Sanzar amid speculation the rugby republic could abandon New Zealand and Australia and take their game to Europe.
Rugbyheaven NZ reports that with Sanzar in the midst of putting together a new proposal to take to their broadcasting partner News Ltd in June, the prospect of South Africa joining the time-friendly European scene was raised in an article in The Australian newspaper.
The report suggested that the South African Super 14 franchises could be tempted to move north and join the Magners League involving clubs from Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
That has prompted the South African union to deny any such move and reaffirm their commitment to their southern hemisphere partners.
“There is not a jot of truth in this speculation and we wouldn’t normally even bother responding to such a story,” said Andy Marinos, the South African Rugby Union’s acting managing director, in a statement.
“But as it has now grown via the internet from speculation from one source in Australasia to a real possibility in websites across Europe we thought rugby supporters would like the record put straight.
“So let me put it quite plainly: we have had no informal or formal discussions with the Magners League – or any European-based leagues for that matter – about deserting our Sanzar partners and playing in a northern hemisphere-based tournament.
“And nor do we have any plans to hold such discussions,” he said.
“We remain committed to Sanzar and are taking a full part in discussions looking at the possible expansion of the tournament – a desire we share with our Australian and New Zealand partners. Sanzar’s tournaments are vibrant, hugely popular with our supporters of the very highest rugby quality and remain central to our forward planning.”
Marinos said that logistically the move would be impossible as the northern and southern hemisphere seasons don’t overlap. He also believed it would be a drop in the standard of rugby.
Sanzar’s current broadcasting agreement ends in 2010 and they are looking at expansion options within their own boundaries and in Asia and the Americas fro Super rugby while there is pressure to bring Argentina into the Tri-Nations.
Speculation about South Africa looking elsewhere is nothing new. It has dogged the Sanzar setup for years with South Africa burdened by travel and tempted to move into a time zone that sees their rugby fall into the same sort of kickoffs as those operating in the UK and France.Tweet