Bill Pulver proposes Sanzar 'Lions' for 2015

DARREN WALTON
Last updated 16:59 03/07/2013

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The Wallabies could tame the British and Irish Lions in Australia on Saturday night and then team with the mighty All Blacks and Springboks to return serve in the UK in two years' time.

That is the pipe dream of Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver.

Former ARU boss John O'Neill has already this year touted the tantalising possibility of the Wallabies and All Blacks forging a trans-Tasman alliance to take on the Lions at Twickenham in 2015 to mark the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli.

Now Pulver - an ideas man of the same mould of his headline-grabbing predecessor - has floated the prospect of all three southern hemisphere powerhouses uniting to conquer the best of the British.

"I would love the idea if you could find a southern hemisphere combination," Pulver said on Wednesday.

"I'd even be happy with an ANZAC team. Take the best of Australia and New Zealand. A concept I would love to develop is - 2015 is the centenary of ANZAC Day. Imagine playing a combined Australia-New Zealand team against an allies team."

Pulver was spruiking the idea while hailing the Lions' tour of Australia a resounding success ahead of Saturday night's series decider in Sydney.

He admitted the ARU had traditionally survived on the windfalls generated from hosting the 1987 and 2003 Rugby World Cups and the Lions every 12 years.

The current series "has unquestionably helped the financial coffers of Australian rugby," he said.

"It's filled a good hole. We had aggressive budgets in place and it's met those budgets," Pulver said.

But going forward it was vital the game's brains trust didn't take their eye off the ball, Pulver said.

"We've got a cycle coming up where you have a Lions tour in one year, you have a World Cup in one year and we've now got a Rugby Sevens and Olympic Games in one year," he said.

"So in some ways there's an extra year that opens itself up to a couple of interesting concepts.

"We're about to embark with the Australian Rugby Union on a strategic planning process and it really does invite a lot of creative thought to think of a Lions equivalent from the southern hemisphere.

"We're not very far down the track at all in terms of discussion around that.

"Some of the countries in the southern hemisphere are actually concerned about the amount of rugby that their senior players are playing.

"So it needs to be addressed in that context."

Pulver said striking a balance between revenue raising and over-playing the Wallabies was crucial.

But he was comfortable about Australia playing 15 tests in 2013, with the Rugby Championship against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina to follow the Lions series before the Wallabies embark on a five-Test spring tour of Europe in November.

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