Saru makes O’Neill’s blood boil
20 Apr 2009
Australian rugby boss John O’Neill is growing increasingly frustrated by Saru’s non-committal towards details of a Super Rugby expansion.
Reports in The Herald on Sunday reported that Saru is making plans for a shortened version of the Currie Cup from 2011. This would include six teams and would begin in late July, allowing the mooted Super 15 competition to start in March – which would suit the Australasians.
However, O’Neill was wary of believing the reports.
Saru have stated that maintaining the Currie Cup is of paramount importance, but O’Neill has repeatedly disregarded this as the Australians have no domestic competition of their own.
This has stalled Sanzar negotiations and O’Neill is becoming increasingly frustrated as the 30 June deadline with broadcasters looms.
‘We’re still talking. It’s very ambiguous at the moment. I think all the moving so far has been by Australia and New Zealand, that’s the truth of it, and you get to a point where you can’t move any more,” said O’Neill.
‘Australia and New Zealand have shifted, and all we have out of South Africa is the press release that came out, which I’ve held up to the light and I still don’t understand it,’ he said.
‘I’m sure we’ll hear more this week, but it’s a very difficult negotiation.’
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw supported South Africa’s continued involvement in Super Rugby and O’Neill said this would be first prize.
‘Inevitably you always have a plan B. Our preference is still very much a Super 15, a round and a half [24 weeks], what we call the Perth outcome,’ said O’Neill.
‘We’ve been absolutely consistent about that. We shifted to the Sandton option which was a compromise and we’re still waiting to hear what conditions that South Africa is attaching to the Sandton option.
‘But if you end up with a complete impasse, we’ve got a game in Australia and New Zealand that requires a big chunk of mass entertainment product.
‘If it can’t include South Africa then trans-Tasman and Asia-Pacific options have to be looked at.’