KSA Shark ©

South Africa could leave the Super 14 for Europe

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Super 14 on 17 Feb 2009 at 07:58
Tagged with : , , ,

Australia and New Zealand could be looking for a new partner in rugby soon which may or may not include Japan after rumours have surfaced again that South Africa are considering looking to play their Super Rugby elsewhere.

Article Courtesy of Rugbyweek.com

The Australian reports that the upper echelons of Australia and New Zealand rugby are buzzing with the rumour that South Africa is negotiating to take its five teams – the Bulls, Stormers, Sharks, Cheetahs and Lions – out of the southern hemisphere competition once the SANZAR broadcast agreement expires next year and put them into the Magners League.

Former South African rugby managing director Rian Oberholzer, the man rumoured to be negotiating with the Magners League which is the Celtic League involving 10 major provincial teams from Ireland, Wales and Scotland, told The Australian yesterday he had no involvement in such a scheme.

Oberholzer may be denying his involvement in the scheme but it was him that negotiated South Africa’s entry into an expanded Celtic League contest called the Rainbow Cup back in 2005, the year the most recent SANZAR broadcast deal was signed.

Back in 2005, Australia and New Zealand were kept in the dark about the Rainbow Cup negotiations and eventually former South African Rugby president Brian van Rooyen was forced to confirm the rumours over the board table at a SANZAR summit.

Thankfully for SANZAR the Rainbow Cup never happened because of financial difficulties in Europe at the time but ever since the two trans-Tasman neighbours have been bracing themselves for another attempt by South Africa to join the Magners League, the only provincial-based series among the major European competitions.

The Australian says that Australia and New Zealand have been on full alert in recent months with the clock ticking down to the June 30 deadline when SANZAR must present its proposal for an ongoing southern hemisphere competition to its major broadcast partner, News Corporation.

Everytime a broadcast deal draws near South Africa turn up the heat about how they get the raw end of the stick and how their teams are disadvantaged by all the extra traveling they are forced to do in the Super 14.

The Rainbow/Magners league deal would involve overnight flights to Britain but it would still be in the same time zone and crucially it would mean that South Africa would get larger television audiences back in South Africa and that converts to more money.

Their bottom line would be a lot healthier and in today’s time that counts for a lot.

Strangely though there is little talk of South Africa pulling out of the TriNations part of the SANZAR partnership.

At present Australia appear to be putting all of their energies into an expanded Super15 tournament that will be played over an extended period of time filling their calendar.

South Africa though want to launch a new Super Rugby team in the Eastern Cape making it six teams for South African even though two of their teams regularly finish at the bottom of the Super 14 table.

One would think that the ARU would hardly be happy with having just four teams while their partners have five and six teams.

If South Africa do pull out of Super Rugby then it would make sense for Australia and New Zealand to include Fiji, Tonga and Samoa and even Argentina as replacements but in the current financial climate that may be difficult without the money that South Africa would bring in.

As South Africa’s home matches are played in the same or similar time zone as Europe they bring more to the table in broadcasting terms than their partners so a new tournament without South Africa would take a big financial hit.

Ironically, Australia and New Zealand might actually do better out of such a deal than it does from an “all systems go” Super15 according to the Australian.

South Africa takes up around $8 million of SANZAR’s annual $11 million transport and accommodation budget. What’s more, although the three SANZAR partners share an equal one-third of costs, Australia is allocated only a quarter of the income.

South Africa also divert 95 per cent of SuperSport’s television money flow to the sport directly into its own coffers and they take the lion’s share of the SANZAR spoils. And rumour has it that they want more.

So from one perspective there might very well be an element of “good riddance” if South Africa does decide to play their Lions, Cheetahs, Bulls, Sharks and Stormers elsewhere.

There is also the possibility that South Africa may have started rumours of them leaving Super Rugby as a bluff to ensure that they get the 15th Super Rugby team rather than Australia, New Zealand or Japan in a kind of “give us what we want or we will leave” scenario.

SANZAR will no doubt shortly issue a statement saying that all is well ahead of the next SANZAR board meeting in Dubai on March the 4th but behind the scenes it looks like there is a lot of negotiating to be done.


  • PLEASE DO read the whole article some of it makes a LOT of sense.

  • Comment 1, posted at 17.02.09 07:59:25 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • These Sanzar guys DO know how to organize a decent sight seeing trip.

    ahead of the next SANZAR board meeting in Dubai on March the 4th

    The 7s RWC is in Dubai on 5,6 & 7 March. 😀

  • Comment 2, posted at 17.02.09 08:00:58 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 1) : this has been going on for ages. i have been for this deal since it first emerged. i think it will be better for sa that we join the europeans. it will have a lot of positives. i am just wondering if it is saru playing games again to get a larger part of the pie. although joining europe will probably get us more pie.

  • Comment 3, posted at 17.02.09 08:03:46 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 3) :

    WHY would the Europeans accept us? We would surely WALK their leagues season after season.

  • Comment 4, posted at 17.02.09 08:06:56 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • the reasons i prefer this deal are:
    time zones
    success (our teams will fair a lot better against the weaker nh teams and with jet lag not being a factor.)
    it might lead to nh and sh finally having the same seasons that can only improve the game of rugby.

  • Comment 5, posted at 17.02.09 08:07:21 by try time Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 4) : because we will up tv revenue because we will improve the quality of rugby played. and as i said before a universal season will have to be created as they wouldn’t be able to play in our summer.

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.02.09 08:09:20 by try time Reply
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 4) : and with nh teams falling further and further behind sh teams they realise they need a quality injection.

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.02.09 08:12:39 by try time Reply
  • the simplest reason why i would go ahead with this deal if i was the sharks is this. we have been playing super rugby for 15 years and south african teams have 1 trophy to show for it. the competition has always been against us with the travel arrangements. we always have to deal unfair citing commissions and generally have always gotten the raw deal.

    i feel the best way rugby will expand is if we have a universal season. arg plays a tournament with other american teams, aus kiwis play an asian pacific tournie. and a greenwich tournie can be played.
    slowly but surely these tournaments will split up as more clubs want to join. ie the greenwich cup will have two divisions as more african teams want to join. asia pacific cup will expand as the islanders and china join. and the americas when mexico etc get interested. i feel rugby has become stagnant and the only way forward is to slowly introduce new countries clubs into the premier leagues.

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.02.09 08:25:55 by try time Reply
  • look the standards will drop when we add these young teams. but it will only be temporary. imagine 20 years time when a team like portugal will actually be a threat to the boks in the world cup. how much more exciting will this be than the same 6 teams bashing it out.

  • Comment 9, posted at 17.02.09 08:29:33 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 5) :

    And we shouldn’t just assume that the standard of our rugby would plummet if we join our NH brethren.

  • Comment 10, posted at 17.02.09 09:05:49 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 10) : no i said the quality of all rugby will drop as we spread the game to new countries. but as their players improve it will return stronger than ever.

  • Comment 11, posted at 17.02.09 09:10:49 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 11) :

    Isn’t there a small possibility that OUR standards can remain the same…or even improve ?

    Anyway- where would this leave the TRINATIONS?

  • Comment 12, posted at 17.02.09 09:16:32 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • but for my vision of rugby to improve, the laws of the game will need to be simplified and made to help the smaller teams that don’t have the expertise to play the game at the pace the top teams do. the laws also need to be simplified to stop referees interpretation. there should not be any room for interpretation.

    i look at the success of the sevens tournie and realise that it is succeeding because of the simplicity of the game. just look at kenya taking out the two power houses. lets use this success to convert fans to the fifteen man game. but we’ll need to make the transition easy or we’ll lose the supporters.

  • Comment 13, posted at 17.02.09 09:22:27 by try time Reply
  • @blackshark (Comment 12) : it will still exist as there is a place for it. but maybe we should go back to the days of touring. it will make tours by teams more special. remember the days when going to an all black game was special. now it is easy.

  • Comment 14, posted at 17.02.09 09:26:35 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 14) :

    Well I grew up on the Trinations but touring sounds like fun. I’m sick of seeing the All Blacks and Aussies all the time.

  • Comment 15, posted at 17.02.09 09:36:23 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 15) : exactly. look how excited we are about the lions tour. now imagine england and all blacks coming over and playing the sharks and a development black team etc. so much better than these whirlwind tournaments.

  • Comment 16, posted at 17.02.09 09:50:01 by try time Reply
  • I would be very surprised if this happened. Not sure about the quality of the Magners league as I’ve hardly seen any matches from that league.

    But if it looks like the same teams that these countries put out in the Heineken Cup. So Quality shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

  • Comment 17, posted at 17.02.09 10:39:25 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 17) : i know saru are suckers for punishment. meanwhile the unions are hungry for success cos that fills stands.

  • Comment 18, posted at 17.02.09 11:01:40 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 18) : Connacht’s first home game of the Magners league was attended by 829 people. They struggle to attract 2000 people.

    But then again Munster and some of the Welsh sides have seen 20-25 thousand at matches.

  • Comment 19, posted at 17.02.09 11:08:52 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 19) : lions only get two people in the stadium. every country has a poorly attended club.

  • Comment 20, posted at 17.02.09 11:20:42 by try time Reply
  • @try time (Comment 20) : 😆 True.

  • Comment 21, posted at 17.02.09 11:23:55 by McLovin Reply
  • The money is in Europe & we are in the same times zone, give or take 2/3 hours.

    So we are well placed to take advantage of a move North.

  • Comment 22, posted at 17.02.09 11:25:36 by McLovin Reply
  • This will never happen, but it would be superb if it did. I also think we underrate the NH sides, sides like Munster and the Ospreys would give our teams a run for their money especially if we have concurrent seasons, so all peaking at the same time.

    The benefits for SA are immense, there would be a far larger TV audience and Europeans would actually travel out occasionally to support their teams impacting tourism as well.

    If the 3N comp stayed in place it would also make it a ‘little’ bit more interesting as the players wouldn’t have been playing each other since February every year.

    There would be incentive for the NH teams too – I would imagine games between top NH teams and the likes of the Sharks and WP would be sell-outs.

  • Comment 23, posted at 17.02.09 12:23:19 by Superwors Reply
  • Look if you want money, go for it but be prepared to see the standard of South African rugby go down the tubes. There is a reason why the NH has only won one WC thus far. And seriously, who wants to watch boring defensive rugby every week. Winning against those jokers would leave a bad taste in the mouth IMO.

  • Comment 24, posted at 17.02.09 14:56:59 by klempie Reply
  • @blackshark (Comment 10) : Course it will man.

  • Comment 25, posted at 17.02.09 14:59:00 by klempie Reply
  • This started way back when O’Neil entered the frame. Eith his redicilous proposal of extra teams having a SA, NZ, Aus & PI plus Japan divisions. Each didvision plays his own compo and the winners go to a business end. That should cut the travel and costs but wont work. We want to see the BumBoys, Saders exct playing Newlands.

  • Comment 26, posted at 17.02.09 15:06:08 by PaarlBok Reply
  • make this happen. At least then we’ll get to see all the games.

    I hate Murdoch

  • Comment 27, posted at 17.02.09 16:39:19 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Im with Klempie!

    I want a good reason to get up at 3 in the morning to watch a game!
    And more and more South Africans are moving to nz and aus!
    South African teams have WAY more fans in the SH than in the NH!
    And come on, seriously! Rugby is about the fans!
    They should keep us happy, not the players wallets!

  • Comment 28, posted at 17.02.09 23:23:33 by NickyB Reply


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