The South African Rugby Union may have painted themselves into a corner with the premature decision to guarantee the Southern Kings entry into the 2013 Super Rugby competition.
SANZAR CEO Greg Peters has poured cold water on the suggestion that SARU will be allowed an additional team into the mix - which means the Kings, in essence a development project, will replace one of the country's established outfits.
SARU Deputy President Mark Alexander hinted earlier this week that the national body will lobby for 16 teams to be introduced into Super Rugby.
This followed SARU's decision last Friday to include the Southern Kings in Super Rugby in 2013 - which left the current franchises in the dark about their participation in next year's competition.
Because the SARU general council failed to come up with a workable solution as to who will be dropped to make space for the Kings, they have deferred the decision until their next council meeting on March 30.
It was hoped an expansion of the competition would allow for a seamless addition of the Kings.
However, Peters has dismissed the notion of an expansion before 2016.
SANZAR revamped and extended the format for Super Rugby for five years starting last year and are locked into the current format as they have sold the format to their broadcast partners.
Peters confirmed that the format cannot be changed until the 2016 Super Rugby season.
"SANZAR has sold the current structure of Super Rugby to broadcasters and commercial partners for the period ending December 31 2015, so until that time expansion of the competition is not possible," Peters told SportLive.
The SARU Deputy President, Alexander, continued to hold out hope of an expansion, despite Peters' statement.
"We still have to meet with our partners in SANZAR. Greg Peters cannot decide there won't be any expansion of the tournament," Alexander told SportLive.
"That was an irresponsible statement to make. There is a window of opportunity with our partners in SANZAR.
"We are currently preparing a 16-team schedule so that we can go and debate with them.
"Our relationship with SANZAR has improved tremendously. We are very close to our partners in Australia and we work very closely with New Zealand and our relationship has changed.
"There is a window of opportunity provided we sell a workable solution about 16 franchises playing in the competition."
South Africa want to propose a 16 team format that would resemble the old format used in the Super 14 and does away with the extra play off week and reduce the number of matches.
However, it remains to be seen if broadcasters would agree to accept fewer matches, after they increased the value of the broadcast deal in line with the number of increased matches.
The Australian Rugby Union are also unlikely to agree on another format change to accommodate a South African team as they now have a full calendar of rugby for the first time in their history.
As matters stand now if the Kings are to be included one of the five existing South African franchises - the Bulls, Cheetahs, Lions, Sharks or the Stormers - will simply have to drop out next season.
The problem is that the SARU general council will only meet five weeks into this season's Super Rugby tournament so the five South African teams will start their campaign not knowing how they will have to qualify to be included in next year's tournament.
"I warned the unions about this, but ultimately the decision to defer the matter until March 30 was theirs and they have to live with the outcome," said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
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