Vodacom Super Rugby
SARU issue Super Rugby taunt
Oregan Hoskins (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - SARU would not compromise on having less than six South African teams in Super Rugby from 2016, president Oregan Hoskins said in Johannesburg on Monday.
"As far as I am concerned, it is not even an issue for us, it is six or nothing when the new broadcast deal comes into effect," Hoskins said.
"If we don’t have six teams, we might as well shut doors.
"People didn't believe us when we said how serious it was until we had to forsake one of our provinces out of the Super Rugby.
"It wasn't easy for us but we have to have six franchises playing Super Rugby or playing at the highest level for South Africa."
Hoskins was speaking at Ellis Park where the famous Webb Ellis Cup was on display as part of a whistle stop tour in South Africa before its return to the International Rugby Board (IRB) headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.
Springbok legends from the 1995 and 2007 Rugby World Cup winning teams - including Joel Stransky and the ailing Joost van der Westhuizen - accompanied the trophy on the brief tour.
Saru had been prompted to push for a six-team inclusion after the Southern Kings were relegated from Super Rugby after only one season playing top-flight rugby.
The Kings' entry into the 2013 Super Rugby season, at the expense of the Lions, was a controversial solution to incorporating the Eastern Cape region into top flight rugby.
Following the two-leg, promotion-relegation matches, the Lions were included in the 2014 season with the Kings now being excluded.
Hoskins said he believed Sanzar -- the home of rugby in the Southern Hemisphere - would be prepared to accommodate South Africa’s plan.
"We have to do everything it takes to ensure our teams play in whatever competition - if it is not Sanzar then we have to look north," he said.
"So I am hoping that we are being accommodated within Sanzar.
"We are being told that we are being accommodated.”
Hoskins said SARU and its Sanzar partners still needed to work out a solution on how to accommodate six South African teams.
He believed an expansion to 18 Super Rugby teams was the best solution to the conundrum.
"The challenge now is how we are going to be accommodated.
"I think the way to go is 18 teams, six South African teams, six New Zealand teams and Australia only five, because they battle to have five," Hoskins said.
"But we can put our heads together and ensure Argentina has a team in there."
He said while his suggestion may not be a popular one, the proposed two-conference model - consisting of Australia and New Zealand in one, with South Africa and possibly Argentina in the other - would not be viable.
"I can’t see the idea of having a Australasian conference and an African conference," he said.
"South Africa is the partner and the brand which is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of commercial value, brand value, bums on seats, television viewership, the number of players we have, et cetera."