British and Irish Lions
SANZAR uphold sanctions regulations
PA Sport
October 29, 2008
Andy Marinos (team manager) during the Springboks press conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on August 22, 2008 in Durban, South Africa.
Andy Marinos, the SANZAR managing director, could not persuade all members to reach a consensus © Getty Images

The South African Rugby Union has failed in their attempt to scrap the controversial sanctions regulation from next season's Super 14 and Tri-Nations.

South Africa wanted to ensure the 2009 competitions were played under the same laws as next summer's Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

That meant ditching the controversial sanctions regulation - where most penalties are replaced by free-kicks - which was used in this year's SANZAR competitions but does not feature in the global trial of experimental law variations (ELVs). But South Africa could not convince Australia and New Zealand, who are both supporters of the sanctions regulation and believe it makes rugby a better product for spectators.

SANZAR also decided to delay the introduction of an expanded play-off system for the Super 14 until 2010. "These were major issues with major implications in the different markets and we could not reach a consensus on either issue,'' said Andy Marinos, the acting managing director of SA Rugby and current SANZAR managing director.

"SANZAR was given IRB approval in May to further trial an expanded form of the ELVs and after reflection we have re-committed to that principle as an organisation. The ELVs as applied in the Tri-Nations will continue into the 2009 SANZAR competitions - we're smart enough and professional enough as rugby nations to adapt when we have to.''

South Africa had originally stated that if no consensus could be reached they would be prepared to take the matter to arbitration.

In announcing their opposition to the sanctions regulation, SARFU president Oregon Hoskins said: "We will play the Springbok end of year tour matches under the global ELVs and, most importantly, we will play the British and Irish Lions under the global ELVs next year.

"For consistency's sake and to allow our Springboks the smoothest possible preparations for next year's crucial series against the Lions it is vital that we play under one set of laws. One set of laws for all matches is the only way to go.''

The northern hemisphere unions have been sceptical about the sanctions regulation but Australia have been pushing hard for the its introduction into permanent law. Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill recently said SANZAR would be "mad'' to ditch the sanctions and that doing so would be "putting up the white flag''.

© PA Sport

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