Expansion is SA’s ‘only option’

Saru says there are no plans to boycott the 2013 Super Rugby tournament but has admitted that the five South African franchises view a tournament expansion as the only solution.

Saru has moved quickly to dismiss a media report that the Bulls, Cheetahs, Lions, Sharks and Stormers will boycott the 2013 tournament if Sanzar decides not to include all six South African franchises (including the Southern Kings) in future tournaments.

It was suggested that the threat was part of a letter sent by the five franchises to Saru president Regan Hoskins. While Saru has denied such a threat exists, CEO Jurie Roux has confirmed that none of the franchises will support a format that doesn’t include all six teams.

‘No threat of a boycott was made,’ said Roux. ‘But the franchises have made it plain that the only option to them is the expansion of Super Rugby.

‘They also pledged their support for the Kings’ inclusion in 2013 as well as for Saru’s efforts to persuade Sanzar to include a sixth South African franchise.’

The letter from the five franchises to Hoskins stated the following:

‘After lengthy discussions between the franchises, we unanimously decided that it is imperative:

* That such inclusion will benefit South African rugby in general;
* That none of the existing franchises shall be prejudiced by such inclusion in any way whatsoever;
* That none of the existing franchises shall be eliminated from the tournament in 2013 or at any stage thereafter as a result of the inclusion of the Kings;
* That Saru as custodian of the South African leg of the tournament will ensure that the Kings are included without prejudice to any of the existing franchises.

‘The existing franchises will endeavour to provide all necessary assistance and support to Saru in its negotiations with Sanzar to ensure the inclusion of six South African franchises in 2013 onwards.’

Roux said that Saru would continue discussions with its Sanzar partners around participation in the 2013 tournament. A final decision on the matter is expected on 31 March once all discussions have concluded.