Super Rugby must resist rapid expansion
This has been the best Super Rugby season since 2003. But it is only going to get better in the coming years; there is a lot of room for growth.
Growth should happen gradually, as it should be in other countries.
I live in Napier, New Zealand and we have a proud rugby tradition in this province, having produced some exceptional rugby talent (Izzy Dagg, Zac Guildford, etc.).
Our Magpies National Provincial Championship team is awesome and competed well against sides like Auckland, Wellington, Canterburry and Otago Taranaki.
I would love to see my own local super team (not just the Hurricanes) and more matches at McClane park, but I know there isn’t the depth for that to happen.
The last thing Super Rugby needs is to go backwards with our talent.
It needs to not only be a close competition throughout the year, but needs to remain a strong competition.
The last thing Super Rugby needs is to become like the NRL and be a competition filled with mediocre players.
We don’t want to suddenly let in another five teams from North and South America or Asia unless they can compete. It is hard enough having two sub-standard teams in Perth and Melbourne.
The ARU needs a good kick up the arse; having Perth run at the bottom of the table after five yrs is disgraceful.
Melbourne isn’t too bad, but with a person of Rob McQueen’s ability I would expect them to be right up there by 2014.
If Perth and Melbourne don’t improve by then it is an expansion failure.
The NRL is looking to expand in the next couple of years. When they do, it will really show the spread of talent they have.
Although Papua New Guinea is aiming to get a team in there and Wellington is also trying, it will be the Australian teams that get the green light.
This is understandable as New Zealand only pays a few million dollars for TV rights to the NRL and Papua New Guinea would probably pay less than New Zealand.
There would be little incentive to introduce a new New Zealand or Papua New Guinea team.
This is the same logic that has prevented Fiji, Samoa and Tonga getting a team into the Super Rugby competition. Interestingly, when rugby was a amateur sport the island teams were included in the Super 10 competition.
It is one thing to have a salary cap to spread the talent around. But when you have to increase it to retain the top players, like your Benjis and Slaters, then the rest of the team is filled with absolute nobodies.
The thing is that average players are already rife in the NRL and it is only going to get worse.
The NRL might increase its funding through some more teams in the short term. But in five years time, when there could be over 20 teams and small crowds at a lot of the games, the funding will decrease.
It is going to happen in league; I hope it doesn’t happen in Super Rugby.
Rugby has to stay with quality not quantity, a mix between club rugby and international rugby.
It is a club game that will gradually grow, not gradually go in the other direction through over-expansion and under-development.
Rugby needs to think outside the local box and look to the global box.
The International Rugby Board is doing that, but Super Rugby, Top 14, the Avia championship and all the other rugby competitions need to do more.
We have the products and resources that league doesn’t have.
Let’s do it and be the absolute second-most popular code in the world, not just the third-most popular world competition every four years and an Olympic sport.
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