Melbourne awarded Super 15 franchise

The Australian city was chosen by independent arbitrators after SANZAR, the body representing the rugby unions of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, failed to reach an agreement between Melbourne and a competing bid from South Africa’s Southern Kings. Former New Zealand World Cup-winning captain David Kirk and retired New Zealand High Court judge Barry Paterson conducted the review.

SANZAR said in a statement that the Melbourne bid provided considerably greater commercial benefit than the Southern Kings application. It is believed a fifth Super rugby team in South Africa would have reduced broadcasting revenue by between $15 to $20 million over the term of a contract.

"This is a vote for common sense," said Australian Rugby Union managing director John O’Neill. "Melbourne has an extraordinary capacity for sport and we can now deliver them a Super rugby side they can embrace and support in an established competition of genuine international standing."

SANZAR is extending the existing Super 14 competition into a conference-based system featuring three groups of five from 2011. The Melbourne team will play at the purpose-built stadium opposite the Melbourne Park tennis centre.