8 May 2009

O'Neill: South Africans will be losers in SANZAR break-up

12:15 pm on 8 May 2009

The Australian rugby boss John O'Neill says South Africa will end up as the big losers if the southern hemisphere's SANZAR alliance breaks up.

South Africa is at odds with Australia and New Zealand over plans to expand the Super 14 to 15 teams from 2011, supporting the general concept but disagreeing over the proposed length and format of the new competition.

O'Neill warned that South Africa could miss out altogether if they failed to reach agreement, with Australia and New Zealand already offering to form their own provincial competition including teams from Japan.

If that happened O'Neill feels South Africa could run the risk of losing players.

The matter is quickly coming to a head with SANZAR due to meet their broadcasting partners in June to thrash out a new television deal when the current one expires in 2011.

The three unions have organised a high-level meeting in Dublin this week to try to iron out their differences and O'Neill says he's hopeful the South Africans will eventually agree with the plans.

He feels the joint venture must remain intact.

O'Neill says he's dealt with the South Africans for years in business and sport and part of their DNA is to take it to the brink, however there is a moment when they will realise they have taken it far enough.