SANZAR’s decision to award a 15th Super rugby franchise could spark a rugby war between South Africa and Australia.
Already there have been heated exchanges between the two countries rugby bosses and competition to get the 15th franchise is likely to intensify this battle.
Brenden Nel writes in Sondag that there was a heated exchange between SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos (who also is CEO of SA Rugby) and Australian Rugby CEO John O’Neill at the organisation’s meeting in Dubai this past week.
Marinos confirmed the confrontation, which took place as Marinos chastised O’Neill for revealing details of SANZAR discussions in the Australian press. SANZAR need to meet a June 30 deadline for a renegotiation of the Newscorp television deal, and are considering a number of options to make the competition more exciting.
Marinos was joined by SA Rugby president Oregan Hoskins in his criticism of O’Neill during the meeting and a heated debate continued afterwards.
“It wasn’t an easy meeting and we know each nation is fighting for the rights of his own back yard,” Marinos told Sondag. “But we felt he had too much to say in public about SANZAR.
“That right belongs to the secretariat of SANZAR, which currently rests with South Africa. It is an extremely delicate time for negotiations and we don’t feel it is right to discuss all the details in the public domain. I told him to keep quiet in the future about such matters.”
Marinos also indicated that while O’Neill may already have decided the 15th franchise is an Australian one, the days that SA Rugby allows itself to be dictated to, are over.
“The days that other countries walk all over us are over. We will do what we feel is right for South Africa, within the SANZAR context, and nothing else.”
Sondag also said that it was confirmed that the 15th franchise would be based within the Australian conference after the competition was split into three conferences of five teams each based in each of the three countries.
But it wasn’t a decision that O’Neill, an outspoken advocate of change in rugby, could decide on.
“It is not for John to decide who gets the 15th franchise, it is a SANZAR decision,” Marinos added. “We (SA Rugby) believe it should go to the Eastern Cape franchise and that is where we stand.”
It is likely that the next few months will see the relationship between the two countries deteriorate as the bidding for the franchise continues.Tweet