‘Shady Saru’ scream Sharks

Before a ball has been fumbled Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl is already threatening Saru over the controversial relegation plan for the Super 14.

According to Saru’s hastily agreed compromise following the allocation of five franchises for the Super 14, the South African side that finishes last in this year’s competition will be relegated in favour of the Southern Spears for 2007.

The proposal was not happily received by the Bulls, Cats, Stormers, Sharks and Cheetahs, although the more pressing danger of immediate exclusion meant that none vented their objections with much gusto.

Up until now, that is. Predictably, it’s the Sharks who have voiced their opinion first, as they are widely acknowledged to be staring down the relegation barrel.

“We have taken legal advice and will challenge (SA Rugby) on the tendering process. When we were awarded the tender we were given a franchise license for five years. We were awarded our franchise fair and square,” moaned Van Zyl in the Daily News.

“I think all the unions have taken legal advice.”

Exclusion from the 2007 competition would be an unmitigated disaster for any union, both financially and in terms of player resources, and thus whoever finishes bottom can be expected to enter into a contracted and desperate legal battle.

Van Zyl also revealed that his union expected to be awarded a Tri-Nations Test for this season, after they did not last year. It seems, however, that again they’ll be shafted. An early season international against Scotland has been proposed.

“We are still waiting to get confirmation from SA Rugby about which Test match we will be hosting,” said Van Zyl.

“There will be an SA Rugby meeting on January 16 and we are expecting a decision then.”