No wonder the International Rugby Board cannot agree on an integrated season. Sanzar officials have been bickering for years about the future of their Super rugby alliance and still cannot negotiate any solution.

New Zealand representatives fly out to South Africa today for the latest round of talks when they might better use their energy on setting up an Asia-Pacific tournament.

There are a raft of issues which have beset Super rugby since its 1996 birth, with the latest impasse about staging conference rugby in each nation before a finals series in a 15-team competition.

South Africa

- Want the additional team and a January competition start.

- Contribute 65 per cent of the tournament broadcasting money.

Will not shift their provincial Currie Cup competition to allow for Super expansion.

New Zealand

- Want a later March start to the tournament.

- Also want to protect the NPC.


- Want expansion to compete in their tough sports market.

- Have no conflicting domestic rugby competition.

All sorts of replacement tournament ideas have been bandied about as Super rugby heads into the final year of its contract next season.

South African officials have rejected a recent proposal that the winner of a "Pacific" series could meet the winner of a similar South African competition and threatened to form a new tournament with Argentina, Scotland, Ireland and the United States.

Let them go.

While Australasian officials will reiterate they cannot do without the financial clout they receive from Supersport television in the republic, it might be time to sting Asia and maybe the US for rights to join the tournament.

Let South Africa join whatever Northern Hemisphere competition they like or if they can find one to include them.

The tyranny of travel and time difference in this Super rugby series is one of its greatest downfalls while the seasonal familiarity of the accompanying Tri-series has eroded much of the sport's intrigue.

New Zealand and South Africa have a rich rugby history but it is in danger of being watered down the longer Super rugby and the Tri-Nations continues. Tests every second year would do much to recapture some of that spark while it would also free up more time in the congested annual schedule.

A five-month Super season starting in March and ending with playoffs in July could precede a month's recuperation before a domestic and international test window running from September to November.

In recent years, as the Super series has lurched rather than sparked its way through a five-year extension, it seems all the talk about future Super rugby has been about compromise. By definition that means committing to some competition which is unsatisfactory.

This is a chance for New Zealand to get into a Pacific series where they can drive the tournament, they can make the deals, they can regather some lost followers.

Perhaps they could also reintroduce rucks instead of those disgraceful pile-ups, eliminate tap kick penalties for scrum infringements and get players on side; however, that is another story.