The Sanzar alliance may have agreed that the way forward for the Super 14 is to add a 15th team — but the squabble has just begun when it comes to structuring the new competition.
Simnikiwe Xabanisa writes in the Sunday Times that South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, the Sanzar partners, are to meet broadcasters News Corp in June to present their new package to seal the next Super 14 and Tri-Nations deal.
But in the coming months the Sanzar three have to agree on a variety of things. The main obstacle is how long the season will be and when it will start and end.
The South Africans and Australians disagree on the timing, while New Zealand are undecided.
Sharks chief executive Brian van Zyl said the five Super 14 franchises had given their negotiators — South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins, and acting SA Rugby MD Andy Marinos — a mandate not to agree to a format that would encroach on the Currie Cup.
“Australia don’t have a domestic championship and New Zealand’s final last year attracted only about 20,000 people,” he said. “The Currie Cup final was sold out last year, so it’s still a very important competition. ”
Because they don’t have a meaningful competition outside the Super 14, the Australians would like the new tournament to start in March and end in August, doubling up as a domestic season. That would clash with the Currie Cup, which starts in late June or early July.
A Saru official, who did not want to be identified, said the New Zealanders were of similar mind to the South Africans because of the Air New Zealand Cup, but the problem lay in the present mid-February start to the competition.
With further negotiations set for mid-March in SA and in April in Perth, it is unclear how a solution can be found that won’t disappoint at least one party.
Should the South Africans prevail, it is unlikely that they would also get the 15th franchise.
Theoretically, everyone — including Japan, Fiji and Argentina — have a chance of getting the franchise, but the fact that the three Sanzar partners have also shown an interest has to mean one of them is a favourite.
What will work against the SA bid is the fact that Sanzar have decreed that the new franchise will fall under the Australian conference.
This means the new team, earmarked to be the Eastern Cape, would play its conference games against Australian sides on a home and away basis, adding to the already troublesome travel factor.
“From a practical perspective it won’t work,” said the Saru official. “We might want it, but won’t get it. ”Tweet