Reports of South Africa’s departure from – and the demise of SANZAAR – have been rubbished as nothing more than premature ‘rumours’.
Andy Marinos, chief executive officer of SANZAAR, told @rugby365com that South Africa are not about to pack their bags and head north to the Six Nations and other European competitions.
He dismissed the report of SA Rugby’s departure – along with the four Super Rugby franchises – as “unsubstantiated”. Rumours of the big trek north were sparked by a Daily Mail report quoting unconfirmed sources.
In an interview from Sydney after he addressed a business of rugby breakfast, Marinos said he doubted very much the Six Nations would again make the mistake of expanding – as they did with the inclusion of Italy in 2000.
“It is nothing more than speculation,” the SANZAAR boss said when asked about the reports emanating from London. He added that he regularly speaks to his Six Nations counterparts and they would have informed him if there was any such developments or plans.
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He added that it would be very difficult for either to pull out of the deal now or midway through the next five-year cycle. Australia and Argentina still have to sign on the dotted line, but the SA and NZ factions will not go missing from the SANZAAR acronym (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby).
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“I regularly speak to my directors (from the SA Rugby franchises) and they are committed to SANZAAR,” said Marinos, adding they are always pretty clear when they come to the negotiation table.
Marinos also claimed there are a lot of “different dynamics” in World Rugby with elections coming up in May which in turn will lead to “positioning and jostling”.
He spoke of “outrageous statements” that have emerged in the wake of the electioneering. He concluded that now is a good time to take a step back and think about World Rugby political landscape at the moment.
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