Super Rugby

SARU denies boycott reports

SARU denies boycott reports

SOUTH AFRICAN Rugby Union chief executive Jurie Roux has denied reports that its five Super Rugby franchises have threatened to boycott next year’s competition.

A report in Rapport alleged the boycott threat was part of a letter from the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls, Cheetahs and Lions sent to SARU president Oregan Hoskins.

While denying those rumours, Roux says there is still friction with the five current franchises over plans to introduce the Southern Kings to the competition.

“No threat of a boycott was made,” he says.

“But the franchises have made it plain that the only option to them is the expansion of Vodacom 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 Kings hail from Port Elizabeth, a South African area with a high population of black rugby players, and the bid to include them in the Super Rugby has become a political issue. The South African government is pushing hard for them to take their place in the competition

The current Super Rugby sides fear Kings' inclusion will come at their expense, hence the franchises’ letter to SARU.

It reads: "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 says that SARU would continue discussions with its SANZAR partners around participation in the 2013 tournament.

A decision on the mechanism by which South Africa's entrants in Super Rugby in 2013 would be identified was postponed in January.

A special general council meeting delayed the decision until the annual general meeting of SARU on March 31 to allow time for further discussions with SANZAR.

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