SANZAR, representing the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby Unions, has announced two additional teams will be added to the Rebel Sport Super 12 � one from Australia and one from South Africa, creating a Super 14 competition, while the Philips Tri Nations series would also be expanded to include a third round of Test matches between the Springboks, Wallabies and All Blacks.
The expanded package is part of the proposal for the renewal of broadcast rights for a five-year period beyond 2006, with the current 10-year agreement with News due to expire at the end of 2005.
NZRU and current SANZAR Chief Executive Chris Moller said the proposal underlines the strength of SANZAR�s rugby competitions, and the demand for premier rugby in television markets across the southern hemisphere and globally.
�The SANZAR proposal reflects the value of these premier rugby competitions and also the demand from fans, players, our participating rugby unions and global broadcasters, for more teams and more matches,� Moller said.
Australian Rugby Union CEO Gary Flowers said the additional Super rugby franchise for Australia would be a major boost to the profile and opportunities for rugby union in the Australian sports marketplace.
�It has been no secret that our ambition has been to expand on the huge success of Super 12 in Australia. This marks a significant expansion not only for Australian rugby but our whole game.�
South African Rugby Union President Brian van Rooyen said the expansion of both the Rebel Sport Super 12 and Philips Tri Nations was timely for South Africa.
�Both Super 12 and Tri Nations have achieved great success in South Africa and internationally, and following the success of the Springboks in this year�s Tri Nations competition, we now have an opportunity to build further on these competitions.�
A key principle of the discussions between the three unions was to take a cooperative approach which met the aspirations of each union.
In the spirit of this accord, the expansion of Super rugby and the separation of domestic competition broadcast rights were agreed. This will see the Air New Zealand National Provincial Championship and Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup offered to News Corporation directly by the New Zealand and South African Unions respectively.
In-bound tours will continue to be included into the combined broadcast package. The three unions have also agreed on equitable revenue share arrangements for the new agreement.
�This agreement demonstrates the breadth and depth of the SANZAR partnership,� van Rooyen said. The aspirations of Australia and South Africa to add additional Super rugby teams have been achieved. At the same time, we have also incorporated New Zealand and South Africa�s desire to manage the rights of the premier domestic rugby competitions.�
Flowers said the package represented a step forward for rugby union and for our potential broadcast partners. �It also reflects the underlying interest within the three countries, and the very strong broadcast opportunities outside of the SANZAR countries, particularly in the United Kingdom.�
Moller also noted that the SANZAR partnership remains confident of the value of its broadcasting assets, which is built on the proven attractiveness of the competitions to broadcasters, fans and sponsors.
The SANZAR partnership will await the response from News Corporation to its offer as the next stage of the broadcasting rights process.