Australian rugby boss John O’Neill has been called to order by South African Rugby Union (SARU) president Oregan Hoskins.
Stephen Nell reports for sport24.co.za:
O’Neill on Monday launched yet another attack on South Africa by accusing SA Rugby of “bluffing” in negotiations about future SANZAR competition structures.
With the SANZAR alliance (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) shaky, rumours are doing the rounds that South Africa may look to defect to the northern hemisphere. O’Neill believes South Africa are bluffing.
“As chairman of SANZAR I wish to call on all parties not to make public statements. It’s unbecoming and breaching protocol,” said Hoskins.
“We are supposed to discuss issues at meetings. It complicates the partnership when someone makes statements in the media. We can issue joint statements.”
Hoskins will chair Thursday’s SANZAR’S meeting in a joint effort to revive negotiations about the future of Super rugby.
Australia and New Zealand have started discussions about a Trans-Tasman competition in which Japan will also become involved. This would exclude South Africa.
“Australia and New Zealand cannot do without South Africa. We have the biggest market and the most lucrative TV component. We add a lot of value,” said Hoskins.
He believes all three countries should concentrate their efforts on resolving the deadlock.
“South Africa believes Super rugby should start in mid-February. Australia and New Zealand want it to start early in March. They also want Super rugby to be played at the time of the June Test window. We are against that. Those are the issues we should be focusing on,” said Hoskins.
He is not aware of any South African bluff. He also does not believe South Africa are being unreasonable about wanting a sixth franchise in the Australian conference.
“It’s not a demand. SANZAR have laid down criteria and anyone can apply. All three countries will do that,” he said.
Hoskins still believes a solution can be found. “We have a meeting now where we can talk straight and we’ll have to find a solution, even if it takes some time,” said Hoskins.
Earlier, AFP reported O’Neill as describing South Africa’s northern hemisphere link as a “long-held bluff”.
“From all the enquiries we’ve made, we believe there isn’t an exit for them in the north. What has happened is Australia and New Zealand, out of pure frustration, have worked on a trans-Tasman competition which does work, with five or six teams from Australia and five or six from New Zealand.
“It’s a Super 10 or Super 12, played over two rounds, and bringing in Japan in a couple of years’ time. It’s a pretty elegant solution.
“The roles have changed in that we have a plan B and I’m not sure South Africa do.
“On a couple of occasions we thought we’d had an agreement but the South Africans have changed their minds. They’re very unpredictable.
“We don’t want South Africa to drop out of Super rugby, we want them to stay in. But the conditions they’re attaching to their participation are in our view unreasonable.”
Meanwhile, SA Rugby’s acting managing director, Andy Marinos, has said that he has held discussions about a possible alternative for South Africa if no agreement is reached at SANZAR level. He did not want to provide further details.Tweet