Super Rugby needs to be saved – here’s how

wre01 Roar Guru

By wre01, wre01 is a Roar Guru

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    Super Rugby suffers from ridiculous travel requirements, maddening scheduling and mystifying fixture lists. How does scrapping a side in Australia or in South Africa fix any of those fundamental problems?

    There continues to be a total lack of vision and common sense.

    Firstly, can the will of SANZAAR really prevail over the ANC in South Africa? The sport is highly politicised and the idea of relegating the Southern Kings to the dust bin seems wishful thinking.

    Even if that happens, how long until the sport and competition are held to ransom again?

    Secondly, it makes no sense to chuck the Jaguares and Sunwolves out. Agustín Pichot now sits on the World Rugby board and would fight that tooth and nail, while Japan are hosting the 2019 World Cup – why withdraw from that market just as it promises free advertising and growth?

    Much has been written about the failure of Australian Super Rugby sides in the recent past. Yet the Reds won the comp in 2011 and the Waratahs in 2014. No South African side has won it since 2010.

    If you asked the Chiefs or Blues whether they’d rather play Melbourne or the Kings, they’d take the Kings every time. The Force are better than both Melbourne and the Kings combined this year.

    I don’t see that scrapping the Rebels or Force is a must, however it seems a foregone conclusion.

    With all that in mind, how to fix Super Rugby?

    The competition should be divided into the following four pools:

    Pool A: Five South African franchises
    Pool B: Five New Zealand franchises
    Pool C: Four Australian franchises and the Sunwolves
    Pool D: Jaguares, Uruguay XV, Canada XV, USA XV

    Each side would play home-and-away fixtures within its own pool. This would immediately lead to guaranteed local derbies and far less travel.

    At the end of the home-and-away rounds, the top two sides from each pool would go into a cup competition, where quarter and semi-finals are played before a grand final.

    The remaining sides would play in shield and plate competitions.

    Not only does this guarantee less travel and more local derbies, it mirrors the format used in the Rugby World Sevens, one of the bigger rugby success stories over the past decade.

    Pool D could also be expanded to five teams after initially being restricted to four. Candidates for the fifth place could be a Pacific Islands XV or a second side from the United States.

    Of course, there will be push back from New Zealand.

    The Kiwis will argue that all five of their sides should be eligible to qualify for the top eight – and there is merit to that argument. However, there is a big picture that needs to be considered.

    We owe it to the game to grow it. Excluding Japan or Argentina or ignoring the United States and the Pacific Islands is wrong.

    It is not out of the question for South Africa to pull the plug and head to Europe if the completion deteriorates further, and Australian rugby really is at a crossroads. Things either change or it dies a slow and agonising death over the next five to ten years.

    If either of those scenarios play out, how is New Zealand rugby a winner? It will be left without local competition.

    Super Rugby is dysfunctional and not fit for purpose. It is falling apart and SANZAAR needs to stop the rot, quickly and decisively.

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    The Crowd Says (61)

    • March 20th 2017 @ 12:01pm
      Jimbo81 said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

      makes sense. NZ are only resisting because they’re winning under this format – and will do everything and anything to make sure this continues – including suggesting Australia lose 20% of their professional rugby pathways – NZRU thinking is straight out of Highlander – there can be only one!

      • March 20th 2017 @ 1:09pm
        P2R2 said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        NZ didnt resist the Super 12….and won that more times than AUS and SA combined….so what are you trying to say…??
        MERIT demands that the best teams with the highest points front for the finals…this conference crap is rubbish

    • March 20th 2017 @ 12:46pm
      Unanimous said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

      No format changes alone will make the competition competitive. Any format with un-competitive teams will be problematic, particularly if the uncompetitive teams are grouped into national broadcasting markets. The current format would not look anywhere near as bad if the conference leaders were all about as good as each other, and the second and third place teams were similarly matched.

      The only proven way to grow a league and unlock new markets is the AFL/NHL/NFL/NBA method. All teams need equal access to the player pool. There needs to be equalisation measures such as a league wide draft and/or salary cap. New teams need particular special measures to ensure they become competitive quickly.

      The Kings got some 40,000+ crowds in their first year. The Rebels and Force had many 20,000+ crowds in their early years. There is potential in those cities. Super Rugby has done real damage to these markets by not arranging for competitive teams in those markets. Your suggested expansion will do the same to your suggested new teams (which don’t have as proven a market as East London, Perth, and Melbourne), unless large changes are made to the running of Super Rugby.

      Having said that, I like your basic idea for maybe the distant future. One possible problem is that you can’t schedule the second half of your season until the first half is complete. Maybe a gap in the season is needed, but how big a gap can you have and how long does it take to book stadiums and travel?

    • March 20th 2017 @ 12:54pm
      Celtic334 said | March 20th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

      Hmmm a short 3 hour flight to Melbourne and be home to see family and friends by the next day. Plus the added benefit of getting a night out in one of the best cities in the world, or a flight to the Eastern Province………… Yep definitely to play the Kings…..

      Apart from that statement i do like the premise of your article

      • March 20th 2017 @ 1:08pm
        Fin said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        I just assumed that statement was meant to read the Rebels. Doesn’t stack up with the rest of the argument otherwise.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 3:33pm
          Stephen C said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

          Unanimous was inferring that the Kings are much bigger easy beats than Melbourne, thus they ‘would prefer to play the Kings’.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 8:00am
        wre01 said | March 21st 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Hi Celtic
        To clarify, I was trying to say that the Kings are easier to beat than the Rebels generally. I think most other sides in the comp would agree putting travel and Melbourne’s night life to one side.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 1:02pm
      Nobrain said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

      I like the idea but some cross pull games must be played to ensure the weaker teams the much needed exposure to the most powerfull teams at least once a year. Play just once within each pool , then play two teams from each of the other pools.. There you have 10 games, and then go to the play off where te first play the eight, the second the seven, and so on.

      • March 21st 2017 @ 8:03am
        wre01 said | March 21st 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

        Hi No Brain
        I think things would balance out.
        For example the 3rd SA team would still play the 3rd Kiwi team and/or Aussie team in finals of the shield or plate. Sides would also move up and down just as Otago and the Chiefs have within their own comps.

        • Roar Guru

          March 22nd 2017 @ 7:54am
          Nobrain said | March 22nd 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

          I think that everybody should have the chance to play the best.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 1:06pm
      Charging Rhino said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

      “This would immediately lead to guaranteed local derbies” I understand that Australia wants that, but why on earth do so many assume thats what the South African & NZ markets want?

      Kings pushed the Sharks…. haven’t played the Force or Rebels yet….

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm
        Nobrain said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

        I am with you Rhino. Many australians believe that the local derbies will create more interest in rugby union because they mirrow themselves with League . It is dificult to understand because I rather watch the Lions playing the Brumbies than the Lions playing the Sharks. But they have this thing about one city playing the other. The only place I enjoy the derbies are NZ.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 1:32pm
        no one in particular said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

        local derbies is why we have the format we do. NZ were the ones that pushed for it, and the ARU just went along with want NZ wanted.

        • March 20th 2017 @ 4:01pm
          Council said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

          The ARU pushed for more local derbies. Dont fob your mess off onto us.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2017 @ 4:18pm
          Shane D said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

          No one – council is correct. The ARU were strongly behind the local derbies in order to increase TV ratings. That along with a guarantee of an Australian team bring in the finals were the main pushes from the ARU.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 1:08pm
      P2R2 said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

      ….However, there is a big picture that needs to be considered.

      We owe it to the game to grow it. Excluding Japan or Argentina or ignoring the United States and the Pacific Islands is wrong….

      You lost me with this…..keep growing the game equals having a conference system…which basically sucks..

      • March 22nd 2017 @ 11:43pm
        markie362 said | March 22nd 2017 @ 11:43pm | ! Report

        I thought it was world rugbys job to grow the game

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