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NZRU & ARU Joint Statement On Sanzar Discussions

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NZRU & ARU Joint Statement On Sanzar Discussions

The New Zealand Rugby Union and Australian Rugby Union will continue to work towards expanding Super Rugby from 2011 in partnership with South Africa despite the current impasse in negotiations with SA Rugby.

NZRU CEO Steve Tew and ARU Managing Director and CEO John O'Neill said today a continuation of the SANZAR alliance at provincial level remains the preferred option for both national unions.

However, New Zealand and Australia are also determined to deliver a competition of the highest integrity to supporters and broadcasters and believe South African calls for further compromise will impact on that commitment.

Talks will therefore continue on an alternative plan - an Asia-Pacific competition - to ensure a valuable and viable tournament is ready for implementation should resolution not be reached with South Africa on Super Rugby expansion plans.

Senior NZRU and ARU officials met in Sydney yesterday to discuss the way forward with competition formats needing to be ready for presentation to broadcasters by the end of next month.

The NZRU and ARU have also taken a joint stance in replying to comments made on Wednesday in South Africa by SA Rugby acting Managing Director Andy Marinos.

Mr Marinos said the only "stumbling block" to the expanded Super Rugby format currently under discussion for introduction in 2011 was the desire of Australia and New Zealand to continue playing a Super 15 through the June inbound Test window.

The NZRU and ARU acknowledge that the June window presents a challenge, but believe a viable solution does exist which would treat all teams in the competition in the same way.

The SANZAR Working Party, involving representatives from all three countries and their respective players' association, recommended that Super Rugby continue through June but with less matches each weekend through the scheduling of additional byes. In this way all teams in the competition would play two matches over the four weeks that the test players were unavailable.

The ARU and NZRU have endorsed this recommendation and note that it is consistent with the approach in Europe - where the key rugby competitions continue during the November test window and during the Six Nations Championship - and with competition structures in other codes including rugby league and football.

SA Rugby's revised solution involves a mid-February start to Super Rugby - to avoid encroaching on the Currie Cup at the back end of the season - as opposed to the preference of Australia and New Zealand for a March kick off, which is consistent with the feedback from players, fans and broadcasters in those territories.

South Africa has also suggested their teams could open the Super Rugby season with local derbies, at least two weeks before New Zealand and Australian provinces begin their season campaigns.

NZRU and ARU are in agreement that a staggered start would not appeal to fans and broadcasters.

It would also impact on the over-arching ambition - to further improve and evolve what is already the best provincial Rugby competition in the world.

The ARU and NZRU remain committed to finding a competition format that all three countries can agree on. Both National Unions have demonstrated this by agreeing to compromise on the original expansion plans agreed by all three SANZAR Unions in July 2008. This change to reduce the competition format by three weeks has allowed SA Rugby to deal with its concerns around the impact on Currie Cup.

The ARU and NZRU are determined that Super Rugby retains its pre-eminent position without any dilution.

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