Kiwis pull out of S15 race

New Zealand won’t submit a bid for the 15th Super rugby team leaving South Africa’s Southern Kings and Australia’s Melbourne franchise as sole contenders.

Taranaki was set to be New Zealand’s brightest hope of grabbing the additional spot in the expanded tournament, but New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) officials have deemed a sixth franchise to be unsustainable. They will therefore not put the Taranaki bid through to governing body, Sanzar, for further consideration.

‘While consideration was given to referring the Taranaki proposal on to Sanzar, it was agreed that an expansion of the number of Super rugby teams in New Zealand would not be in the best interests of New Zealand rugby at this time,’ NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said in a statement.

‘We have consistently questioned whether New Zealand has the capacity, either in playing depth or financial resources, to sustain a sixth Super rugby franchise and that influenced our decision.’

The revamped competition in 2011 will see 15 teams split into three conferences. Sanzar has agreed the new team will play in the Australian conference – but does not have to be based in Australia.

Melbourne are the favourites to secure the additional spot, although the Kings are adamant that they deserve inclusion.

A final decision will be taken in late October.