Hawke's Bay's ambitious bid to split from the Hurricanes and form a stand-alone franchise for an expanded Super 15 in 2011 has foundered though Taranaki's plan continues to interest the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU).

The Hawke's Bay Rugby Union withdrew their short-lived expression of interest yesterday but Taranaki are pressing ahead with their plans although it is likely the new team will be based in Australia or South Africa.

Hawke's Bay pulled out of the race arguing they did not have sufficient time to present a business plan.

Taranaki Rugby Union officials met with the NZRU last week and will present the organisation with further information before the NZRU decide whether to forward the bid to Sanzar at the end of September.

Taranaki's chances of success seem limited with chief executive Mark Robinson admitting there are concerns about how a sixth New Zealand team would impact on the existing franchises in terms of player depth.

The Taranaki bid has the backing of Venture Taranaki and the New Plymouth District Council, while former Taranaki man Stephen Jennings, who runs Moscow-based global investment bank Renaissance Capitals, has also been linked to the bid.

Meanwhile, the New South Wales County Union withdrew their expression of interest on Tuesday.

Three parties from Victoria, two from Queensland and one from Western Sydney remain in discussions with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).

In South Africa, the Port Elizabeth-based Southern Kings are also bidding although the 15th team will be included in the Australian conference.

Sanzar will consider final bid documents in late September and makes its decision about a month later.

- NZPA