SA Rugby chiefs are set to reject plans for a re-vamp of the Super 14 tournament that would see their teams enter an expanded tournament at a knock-out stage from 2011.
With the South Africans at loggerheads with Australia and New Zealand on the way forward for the new Super 15 competition, their two SANZAR partners have been looking at potential solutions to the impasse.
One of these is to create a new ‘Trans-Tasman’ structure, including teams from the South Pacific and Japan, which would only include the South African sides at a play-off stage in the Australasian Conference.
There are two major sticking points at the heart of the current problems. Firstly, the South Africans don’t want the new tournament to kick-off later in the year, stretching it into August, and secondly they want the new 15th franchise to be the Southern Kings, from the Eastern Cape.
The Australians want the 15th team to be a fifth franchise from their country, probably based in Melbourne.
The South Africans have already conceded that if the Southern Kings were accepted into the tournament they would have to play in the new five-team Australian Conference.
“South Africa isn’t going to be capitulating. From our perspective we’re going to work as hard as we can to reach some real middle ground," SA Rugby’s acting chief executive Andy Marinos told The Australian newspaper.
“What we’ve clearly got is three countries that have very different backyards and very different competition structures that they’ve been dealing with and it’s never easy to get it to sync into one happy format.
“The reality is that there is going to have to be some compromise on all fronts to make sure it goes forward. I don’t think playing in a championship final between Australasia and South Africa would be attractive to SA broadcasters or the SA public.”