Melbourne endorsed by ARU for inclusion in Super rugby competitionThe Australian Rugby Union has endorsed Melbourne as the country's sole contending venue for the 15th Super rugby licence and called on the three bidders from the southern capital to join forces.
Melbourne was chosen by the ARU ahead of bids from western Sydney, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast while New South Wales Country withdrew last week.
ARU chief executive, John O'Neill said Melbourne gave Australia the best chance of securing the 15th franchise in the face of offshore competition.
The Super 14 is to expand by one team in 2011 with governing body SANZAR to decide later this year where the new side will be established.
While the 15th team will play in the Australian conference as part of a revamped competition, interested parties in South Africa and New Zealand are also bidding to have the side based within their national boundaries.
"The ARU has called on the three parties from Victoria who put forward separate expressions of interest to join forces to ensure Australia's prospects of securing the 15th Super rugby licence are maximised," an ARU statement said on Wednesday.
Managing director and CEO John O'Neill added: "We want to make sure the 15th team is in Australia; thus the ARU will facilitate the potential for a seamless and sensible amalgamation of those interested parties.
"It will surely put us in the best position possible.
"There are elements in each of the Melbourne expressions of interest that ensure the sum of the parts will be extremely powerful.
" ... At this stage in the evolution of Super rugby, we believe Melbourne has the best chance of success.
"We are in a three-nation race for the licence and we want the 15th team in Australia.
"So we need to focus our energy on what will be our most compelling bid."
"We believe western Sydney, Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast all have great prospects for the future," O'Neill said of possible further expansion.
A final decision from SANZAR on the successful bidder is expected in late October.
Just wondering, who do you guys think should get the new licence?