International Rugby
SANZAR shoots down Twenty20 plan
July 22, 2010

The bid to launch a Twenty20-style rugby tournament in the southern hemisphere has been dealt a near-fatal blow with the news that SANZAR will not endorse the competition.

The brainchild of former Springbok Rassie Erasmus and associate Frikkie Erasmus, the shortened form of rugby would have attempted to mirror the advances made in cricket with Twenty20. Erasmus, now director of coaching at Western Province, and his namesake Frikkie, formerly the Stormers' commercial manager, presented their plans to the South African Rugby Union (SARU) in June, with the union reporting back to SANZAR and the IRB.

The format, influenced by the success of the Indian Premier League, would have seen matches played in two 20-minute halves with rules amended to reduce kicking while it was hoped that international stars like All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter would commit to play in the competition. SANZAR, the umbrella body representing South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, have discussed the matter with Super Rugby franchises, reporting the feedback to be 'overwhelmingly negative', while concerns for player welfare were also raised.

"SANZAR's representatives met with the promoters of the competition so as to better understand what was envisaged and because we are always open to any ideas that might help promote rugby in our three countries," SANZAR chief executive Steve Tew said. "We were told we would then receive a formal proposal and this has not happened.

"However, having considered the concept and the way in which it has been developed; SANZAR has decided it has no interest in any further discussion of the proposed competition."

The tournament would have taken place during the main rest periods for All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies and would have impacted on franchise's preparations for the 2012 Super 15 season. The IRB, who must approve all competitions, has also declined to support the proposal.

"We do not see any benefits for SANZAR and we have also expressed our strong disappointment to those involved that approaches were made to players in the SANZAR countries without the courtesy of informing the SANZAR member unions in advance," Tew said.


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