Acting MD of SA Rugby Andy Marinos is content with the outcome of the Super Rugby expansion deal.
The Sanzar squabbles have been highly publicised over recent weeks, with slanging matches taking place from either side of the Indian Ocean, with Aussie boss John O’Neill particularly vocal.
Marinos said some compromise from both sides was vital in striking an agreement and felt South Africa’s best interests have been maintained in the deal released on Tuesday.
‘I can’t see how people can say Australia got their way,’ Marinos told keo.co.za. ‘At the initial talks they proposed it ran until September, but now it ends in August. They also wanted a March start, but it’s down for the last week of February, which was a week later than what we requested. The June window has been cleared for Tests, which also appeals to us, while the travel issue for our teams is better.
‘There always had to be some give and take from all three nations, but we are happy. This way one of our teams is always guaranteed a home semi or quarter in the expanded play-offs depending on their log finish.’
All South African sides will play four matches in Australasia each year and Marinos believes this consistency for all the teams is encouraging.
‘Due to our geography the travelling is never going to be ideal but this is better than our guys spending five or six weeks away like the Stormers and Cheetahs did this year. The imbalances have been redressed as best we can and all the stakeholders in SA Rugby, from the franchises to the broadcasters and fans, are encouraged,’ he said.
Marinos doesn’t feel the Super 15 expansion, where the competition will climax in August, will lose the interest of spectators.
‘There will be two more rounds after the June Tests and August will be about finals rugby, which will keep the public entertained. The double-headers between the South African teams at the start of the competition will also create interest, while our teams will get eight home games in total.’
One of the main sticking points was SA Rugby’s understandable refusal to devalue the Currie Cup. Marinos feels the prestige of the tournament has been maintained.
‘We will always play our home Tri-Nations Tests first and our Springboks will be available after the away leg, which will be around the first or second week of September. They will be then guaranteed five rounds of Currie Cup rugby, which is a helluva lot better than in the past, where at times they only had two or three rounds.’
By Grant Ball