The South African Rugby Union has effectively told their SANZAR rivals, New Zealand and Australia, to take a hike.
With 23 frontline players ruled out of the Springboks' away leg of the Tri-Nations - it was 21 until two more joined the injury list on Friday - the Australian and New Zealand Rugby Unions have been up in arms over the second-string selection heading their way later this month.
ARU chief executive John O'Neill was the first to cry foul, when he called on SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters to investigate the matter.
His NZRU counterpart, Steve Tew, joined the outcry when he suggested the absence of so many big name stars would have repercussions for ticket sales in Australasia.
Despite officials in both countries, New Zealand and Australia, spitting the dummy, SARU has stood by the decision to leave more than a full matchday squad at home.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux suggestion there is nothing untoward in the decision and that all players are genuinely injured.
"There is obviously a lot of speculation going on, on the other side [in Australasia]," Roux said Friday.
"It is within the right of Australia and New Zealand to query anything they want to query within the Tri-Nations and within the SANZAR agreement," he said, adding: "The SANZAR agreement binds us to a number of clauses. One of those clauses is that we need to select our best team.
"This is our best, fit, injury free and on-form team that we have selected."
Roux also had a very clear message for the snivellers from Down Under.
"Whether there is rumblings ... it doesn't really faze me, because we have been honest in our approach and we have been honest in what we are providing them with.
"Australia have asked for an enquiry, an enquiry has been done by SANZAR and wen have given our reply.
"As the media reports show, SANZAR is happy with the result, and in the words of Greg Peters, it has been dealt with.
"It is what is and we need to take the best possible team over there [Australasia], which is what we are doing."
Tew did not hide his disappointment.
"It could do [harm to ticket sales for the July 30 Wellington test] and we'd be concerned about our fans anyway. We have a commitment to them and our commercial partners," Tew told the New Zealand media.
Tew admitted player welfare was important and conceded it was a complex issue, but reminded SARU of its obligations.
"We are all contractually bound to ensure we have the best players available under our broadcasting contract and our agreement with each other."
O'Neill also feared the crowd for the Tri-Nations opener in Sydney on July 23 would be affected.
"We have a joint venture agreement and a broadcasting agreement, and it is important that the three countries don't just comply with the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the contract. Joint ventures rely on people acting honourably and consistently," O'Neill told the Australian media.
"We're not in a position to second-guess the Springboks, and we also have our share of injured players. But it is nowhere near 21. The sheer size of the number of players who are injured is unusual."
By Jan de Koning
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