As a long-standing Super Rugby fan, who has adored the competition for years – watching Lions versus Western Force replays just to satisfy my cravings – the funny business we seem to have stepped in is really grinding my gears.
Quality of rugby. Money. Time zones. All valid issues that have plagued our spectator experience for years now have suddenly, and alarmingly, burst into a convoluted mess.
There isn’t any hiding from the never-before-seen dominance of New Zealand sides, the never-before-seen passitivity of the South African conference, and the never-before-seen haplessness of the boys from Down Under.
Then there’s the disgrace that is the Sunwolves, a side that get together the week before the tournament starts for a team run, before going out and getting belted every game, happy to concede as long as the fans enjoy some exciting rugby.
I have, with a great sadness, come to accept that desperate times call for desperate measures. I just don’t know what these measures should be.
Roaring Videos See more »
Everyone seems to have their own great ideas and it’s time to put them into perspective.
Cut the teams in Super Rugby
This would see one Australian side, one South African side, and potentially more teams omitted from Super Rugby.
This would increase the quality, however it would also remove pathway opportunities in existing rugby catchments, and waste the funding consumed up until this point.
Global Champions League
Domestic sides (ITM Cup, NRC, Currie Cup etc.) play a round robin within their own country, before the top few go into a finals series.
Overall this is a much simpler, fairer tournament. However, too many teams with quality players (assuming international players are distributed evenly around) won’t see finals action.
Super Rugby sides, Top 14 sides and more play round robin and a finals series.
This would embrace rugby’s global element and create a more interesting spectacle. However, time zones would be a huge issue, as would the coordination of all rugby bodies in Tier 1 and 2 nations.
Additionally, it would diminish the value of the World Cup if rugby is regularly a global fixture.
There are more options which I haven’t gone over, with some being mixtures of these, but when analysing each option, it’s clear that there is no easy solution.
What I believe should happen is a Pacific Nations tournament involving Super Rugby teams from Australia and New Zealand, as well as teams from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Japan. This would minimise the travel required and make coordinating the competition a bit easier. It would allow for the growth of rugby in the Pacific Islands to be given more support.
However, it probably isn’t the most profitable option and would leave Argentina and South Africa on the other side of a big rift.
There are positives and negatives to every solution however it seems as though the weak, useless option would be to dismiss the poor performance of some teams as ‘cyclical’ and take no action. Drastic change is a must.