Cheeky passes Super 15 buck
Cape Town - Eastern Province Kings president Cheeky Watson says it's not their problem about how the South African Rugby Union (SARU) plans to accommodate South Africa's five other Super Rugby teams from next year.
SARU earlier this year announced that the Kings will automatically qualify for next year's Super Rugby tournament.
SARU was reportedly keen about trying to convince SANZAR (the Southern Hemisphere’s governing body) to extend the tournament to 16 teams to enable South Africa to field six teams.
However, SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters reiterated on Tuesday that the Super Rugby competition could not be expanded to accommodate a sixth South African team until 2015.
“What we have said is that we will always talk to our partners as we should have dialogue with the joint venture partners,” Peters told SAPA.
“But we have sold our format of Super Rugby for five years, expiring in 2015, which has a conference format to it.
“If you don’t have that, you don’t have the format we sold the broadcasters and commercial partners until 2015.”
According to Die Burger, Watson responded to this news by saying: "What can I say about this that I haven't said before?
"All that I know is that SA Rugby has already decided that we (the Kings) will play in the Super Rugby series next year.
"We are very grateful for that. We fought long for it. It's not in our hands who the other teams are that will participate in the Super Rugby series.
"It's SA Rugby and the other South African franchises' problem," said Watson.
It was also earlier reported that SARU would have the backing of South Africa’s broadcaster rights holder, SuperSport, in its negotiations for expansion which would give it some bargaining power.
Peters, however, told SAPA it was not as simple as that as there were a number of factors that would determine whether South Africa could be successful in their lobbying down the line.
“That is one of the major factors, obviously, the amount of money that the broadcasters across the three territories fund the game.
"They are key stakeholders and this is something the Kings have asked before.
“It is not just SuperSport, it is Fox Sport in Australia and Sky TV in New Zealand, and commercial partners Vodacom, FxPro and Investec who are naming rights sponsors of the competition.
“Plus the franchises, who now have built a commercial model on having eight home games every year, so obviously that needs to be factored in as well.”
Peters said the issue would again be addressed at a SANZAR meeting in Sydney in March.