Australia can support a fifth Super rugby team in the southern hemisphere championship despite the gloomy global economic outlook, Australian rugby boss John O’Neill said here on Monday.
IOL reports that a new broadcasting deal for the Sanzar (South Africa-New Zealand-Australia Rugby) nations is likely to hammered out by mid-year, but Australia is set to renew its push for a fifth Super rugby franchise in Dubai later this week.
Australian Rugby Union Managing Director O’Neill said Australia could support a fifth Super team despite the deteriorating economic situation, and stressed there were no fears about the viability of the four existing franchises.
“We are working very hard with the NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies and Western Force to ensure that they remain financially well and healthy,” O’Neill told reporters before leaving for Dubai.
“There’s no alarm bells ringing at the moment. We’ve got good sponsorship, good broadcasting revenue coming in.”
O’Neill said the Sanzar nations needed to settle on preferably two options in their March 4 meeting that they could take to their broadcast partners by June 30 this year.
“I hope the meeting in Dubai really narrows down the differences,” O’Neill said.
“We made a lot of progress last year on a Super 15 model which was an additional team in the Australian Conference and one round where everyone plays each other and a second round where you played in your conference.
“It gave you a lot more home and away content and a six-team finals series and up until September last year that was the way forward.
“We came unstuck and even failed to get the six-team finals series up for this year, so we are back at the drawing board.”
O’Neill said another option included more engagement with Asia-Pacific nations and stressed that retaining the status quo was not the ARU’s preferred option.
He said an additional Super team could be based in Melbourne, the Gold Coast, western Sydney, Newcastle and possibly even Japan, although he thought the latter option was a little further off than the others.Tweet