11 May 2009

South Africa's threat to leave Super 14 a bluff says O'Neill

6:39 pm on 11 May 2009

South Africa's threat to pull out of the Super 14 remains a bluff, according to Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill.

There's disagreement between New Zealand, Australia and South Africa over the timing of the competition when the current competition agreement expires at the end of next year's competition.

From 2011 the New Zealand and Austrailan unions want a March start to the competition rather than the current February kick off which South Africa prefers.

The SANZAR nations are in Dublin this week trying to thrash out a deal, with New Zealand rugby union CEO Steve Tew having said they need to have the matter resolved by the end of June.

Australia and New Zealand have discussed an alternative trans-tasman competition for 2011.

A major sticking point remains South Africa's refusal to shift its domestic Currie Cup competition in the calendar, meaning Super rugby would start in February and cover a similar time frame to its current schedule.

Australia and New Zealand want an extended three-conference Super 15 competition to run from March to August, with the Tri-Nations tests to follow.