South Africa Works the Refs in Phase 2 – Springboks Threaten to Quit SANZAR?

In a move that smacks of “taking our ball and going home since we can’t get our own way,” multiple media outlets are reporting that the South African RFU is looking to end the SANZAR relationship with themselves, New Zealand and Australian rugby unions. 

Money graphs from the Sydney Morning Herald:

This year the Springboks management have complained throughout the Tri Nations about the way referees were officiating them and the All Blacks.

There was also unrest when SANZAR pushed ahead with a misconduct hearing against Springboks coach Peter de Villiers, who said referees wanted the All Blacks to get winning results to help make next year’s World Cup a success.

When Sanzar ordered a the hearing it sent SARU president Oregan Hoskins into such a rage that he called it a “declaration of war”.
Let me say it now, if nothing else this is a really bad PR move. It does look like the South Africans are upset that the All Blacks and Australians are beating them in this year’s Tri Nations and that de Villiers was called before a SANZAR official for claiming that the officials are giving the New Zealand All Blacks an unfair advantage in order to build up more attendance at next year’s Rugby World Cup. Of course let’s also not forget that South Africa tried this last year as well, before being coaxed to back down from the ledge.  And this is really funny when you consider that SANZAR asked Argentina to join them starting in 2011. So are we going to have to call them ArgNZAR from here on out?

And far be it for me, a “New Mexico Yank in King Arthur’s Scrum” to point it out (but I will anyway) that SANZAR was partially formed in response to the push for rugby professionalism in the mid-90s.  SANZAR won the fight to take charge of professional rugby in the three most important rugby nations in the Southern Hemisphere, and now South Africa is threatening to leave their competition with two of the best teams in rugby in order to… what?

Rumor has it that the Springboks might want to switch over and turn the Six Nations into Seven Nations, since they are in more or less the same time zone as Europe.  This does make sense from a timing standpoint, and has always been a problem for New Zealand and Australia – since there are really no Northern Hemisphere teams in their time zones that can provide a challenge for them.  That said, if this were the reason for wanting to switch, South Africa picked a really bad time to announce it – cause it looks like they are doing this out of spite for not getting their way with SANZAR in this year’s Tri Nations.