17 Mar 2009

South Africa refuses to move Currie Cup

8:02 am on 17 March 2009

This week's meeting of the working part set up to finalise the future of the Super 14 looks set to be an interesting one following the announcement by South African Rugby that they won't move their Currie Cup competition to accommodate an extended 15-team competition.

Australia and New Zealand want a longer competition starting later, but at a special weekend meeting, SA Rugby decided it would not allow the Currie Cup to be devalued in any way.

SA Rugby has sold its television rights for the Currie Cup until 2015 and agreed to refuse any proposal which waters down the competition by having the Super 15 overlap it.

A report in the South African Sondag newspaper suggests South African Rugby is also looking at its own competition involving Argentina, the United States and teams from Scotland and Ireland.

That plan was reportedly struck in response to trans-Tasman suggestions of a Pacific Super 12 including Japan and the Pacific Islands if South Africa continued to oppose a longer Super 15 which would end in August, after the Currie Cup kicks off.

South African broadcaster SuperSport contributes 65 percent of the total television rights of the competition.

Australia and New Zealand argue February is too hot to be playing rugby while crowds don't get truly interested in football until autumn.

Just a fortnight ago the NZRU chief executive Steve Tew had sounded optimistic of an agreement being finalised and plenty of discussions are expected up until a June deadline when they must present their proposal to broadcasters.