The Super Rugby solution – flick SANZAAR for Oceania Rugby

David Lord Columnist

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    Ever since the passing of statesman Danie Craven and Nelson Mandela, South African rugby has become a shambles.

    Through his passion, Craven kept rugby alive during isolation over apartheid. There was no justice that he died in 1993, aged 82, not living to see his country win their first Rugby World Cup in 1995 at their first attempt.

    That honour fell to Mandela, and who will ever forget the President on the Ellis Park podium wearing Springbok jersey No 6, presenting the William Webb Ellis Trophy to the Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.

    South African rugby was on top of the world winning a second World Cup in 2007 with a lot of help from Aussie Eddie Jones as assistant coach. Nelson Mandela lived to see it, passing away in 2013, aged 95.

    South Africa last won the Rugby Championship in 2009, and only the Bulls have won a Super Rugby title – their third and last in 2010 when it was Super 14.

    That was the last time there was a level playing field with the 14 teams playing each other home and away.

    Today Super Rugby is in complete chaos with 18 teams that include the Sunwolves from Japan, the Jaguares from Argentina and a sixth team from South Africa when Australia and New Zealand only have five each.

    How the hell did that happen?

    To compound the stupidity, there are moves afoot to drop a South African and an Australian side, and make four groups of four, or two of eight, retaining the Sunwolves and Jaguares.

    From one disaster to another, and all the trouble seems to surround South Africa.

    That’s very easily fixed by leaving South Africa, Sunwolves, and Jaguares out altogether, ending the SANZAAR position as Super Rugby’s governing body, and launching Oceania Rugby of the same five Australian and New Zealand teams, plus the national teams of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.

    Nemani Nadolo Crusaders Super Rugby 2015

    That will limit SANZAAR to the Rugby Championship to ensure the southern hemisphere has an annual world class international tournament.

    But Oceania Rugby will have far less debilitating air travel, and a shorter tournament that will be welcomed by the elite footballers.

    The five Australian teams to play home and away within their group for eight games, play the five New Zealand sides once each, and the three Islander sides once for a total of 16 games before the finals series of eight teams.

    The New Zealanders to do the same, home and away within their group, play the five Australia sides once each, and the Islander sides once for 16 games all up, as well.

    While the Islanders play each other home and away for four games each, and play the Australian and New Zealand sides once each for a total of 14 games, plus two byes.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s fairer than the current chaos that offends everyone, fans included.

    The inclusion of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga is long overdue for the benefit of world rugby.

    All three national sides have been treated as backwater countries, shown scant respect by World Rugby as the governing body by the odd grant from the bottomless pit of money derived by every World Cup.

    World Rugby to subsidise the Islanders to the tune of $150,000 per player in 30-man squads, making the bottomless pit meaningful.

    Franchise clubs around the world must release their Fijian, Samoan, and Tongan reps for Oceania Rugby. Those who have already made their allegiance to Wallaby and All Black rugby remain the same.

    Failure to release the others would have drastic ramifications by losing accreditation to play in their local tournaments.

    Any injured or “injured” players will be ineligible to play for their franchise for three months.

    It’s time for the usually toothless World Rugby to show some bite as the governing body.

    Oceania Rugby will be doing world rugby a big favour, with Foxtel worldwide and free-to-air in Australia supportive.

    So bring it on.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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