NZRU dismissed ARU push for Trans-Tasman competition

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips and Beth Newman

The ARU tried to save all five Australian teams by pursuing a Trans-Tasman competition but the NZRU knocked the concept back, according to ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne.

Clyne and ARU CEO Bill Pulver were grilled by media today and revealed ARU powerbrokers pushed hard for the Trans-Tasman model in order to save both the Rebels and the Force.

But given the state of the two conferences in the current Super Rugby season, New Zealand held no interest in cutting their most relevant competitors from the competition - the two South African Conferences.

"We explored the trans-Tasman option, there was no appetite from New Zealand to pursue that competition," Clyne said.Cameron Clyne and Bill Pulver at this morning's press conference. Photo: Getty Images"We explored it extensively and we explored it through this process.

"There was no appetite from New Zealand for a trans-Tasman competition.

"The view that we can throw down and stand up and do a whole range of things, that requires a willing partner, we didn’t have a willing partner."

When pushed on whether the ARU considered going without all other member nations, Clyne simply said it was a "very unattractive financial option".

"We’re not doing that in isolation of any of the partners," he said.

"There are also scenarios being discussed that might have seen other people cut free.

"At the end of the day there’s not an appetite at the moment.Clyne took a strong view on the prospect of calling New Zealand's bluff. Photo: Getty Images"When that appetite emerges, we will always continue to push it, we think it’s got merit but at the moment this is the one that’s actually got the consensus support from SANZAAR and it’s the one we’re going to pursue.

"But we’ll keep talking about what options we can get."

The concept of New Zealand and South Africa cutting the largely uncompetitive Australia Super Rugby sides out entirely has been raised in recent weeks and there has been a push by some critics to call the bluff.

Clyne took a firm view on the risk of isolation from the rest of the SANZAAR nations.

"You don’t call a bluff unless you’re prepared for the outcomes and I’ve enjoyed the amount of people who’ve become urologists in this game and made assessments about anatomical requirements," he quipped.

Season 2017 will be the last time Australia fields five Super Rugby teams. Photo: Walmsley"The reality is that (when) people say, 'Australia should just tough it out, the Kiwis will never fly over the top of you to play South Africa,’ - you’ve got to be absolutely sure that’s the case when you play that card.

"You may think it, but you don’t know.

"We’re in this to get the best outcome for Australian rugby.

"Everyone’s looking at it from their own perspective.

"So, you can not play that card unless you’re prepared for the outcome and the outcome may very well be that they do fly over the top of you.

"It would be cavalier and it would totally be against the fiduciary responsibilities of the board to take that risk unless you were 100% certain it wouldn’t occur."