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ARU gets seven proposals for 15th Super team

SEVEN Australian groups have lodged their interest to establish the 15th Super rugby team when the competition is revamped in 2011, the Australian Rugby Union said yesterday.

There were three proposals submitted from the southern state of Victoria - an Australian Rules stronghold - two from Queensland and one each from Western Sydney and New South Wales Country, ARU said. Queensland and New South Wales already have teams in the current Super 14 competition.

"From an Australian perspective, to receive interest from seven domestic parties is a significant vote of confidence in the game," ARU Chief Executive John O'Neill said.

"We look forward to discussing the future with interested parties over the coming weeks."

The 15th team will be included in a new Australian conference from 2011. South Africa and New Zealand already have five teams in the competition, though can seek a possible sixth team, who would play in the Australian conference.

O'Neill said the ARU would assess each of the domestic expressions of interest and submit one or more of them to the competition's governing body, SANZAR, for consideration in August. SANZAR will then evaluate all expressions of interest submitted by the South Africa, New Zealand and Australian unions before deciding how many should submit a full bid document.

Bids will be due by the end of September with a final decision from SANZAR expected in late October.

Also, Wallabies center Timana Tahu has quit rugby union to return to National Rugby League club Parramatta in a three-year deal.

Tahu, 29, missed an Australian training run in Sydney yesterday just hours before it was revealed he will turn his back on a four-year contract with the Australian Rugby Union to play league from 2010.

The powerful midfielder left Parramatta to sign with the Australian union in 2007, playing for the New South Wales Waratahs and the Wallabies.

He played four tests for Australia in 2008 but failed to regain a test place this year after making only a handful of appearances for the Waratahs during the Super 14 season.

Tahu was included in this year's 30-man squad but was not chosen for the first four tests of the year against France, Italy and New Zealand.


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