Never mind Super 18 or Super 15, how about Super 16?

hog Roar Rookie

By hog, hog is a Roar Rookie

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    It seems just a distant memory now, the hazy days of 2003. A world cup and genuine thoughts that rugby here was going to be one of the big boys of Aussie sports. Fast forward to 2017 and you wonder just how it could go so wrong.

    Anyone that still needs convincing of its steady demise only needs a trip to your local pub on a Friday or Saturday night to confirm its status on the sporting landscape.

    The current fiasco is mind boggling in its ineptitude. Now we get, what is it – Super version 78? This time there’s a small catch. Due to the competition not quite taking over the world as was promised, we lose a team.

    The South Africans lose two which, after they threatened world annihilation just a couple of years ago if the Kings weren’t included, seems odd? Apparently, it’s about money but does anyone believe the ARU after the dust has settled will have anything left for the grassroots when all the collateral damage has been added up?

    We have debated endlessly how we got here, and I put my hand up straight away that I am firmly in the domestic league camp.

    But put simply, what do we do now? Well, for lack of a better idea what about this: Super 16.

    The ARU need to grow a set and go to SANZAAR and say, “Well guys, since this whole dog’s breakfast is partly your fault, Australia cannot afford the damage to the game here that cutting a team will bring. It is not an option.”

    It seems this whole thing comes down to the ARU saving $4-5 million a year. We must find those savings from somewhere else, I just do not believe, as others have pointed out, that there are simply not other options in regards cost cutting.

    Maybe the players need to contribute as well – they are being overpaid for the level of support the game has in Australia – what about, say, a five per cent pay cut for the good of the game. The point is, we need to find other ways of saving that money.

    How it works is the tricky bit. Well, we go with the proposed structure with one difference: Australia has six teams in its conference and we embrace it.

    We name our conference, call it the Australian championship or something, and give it an identity. The casual fan does not understand Super Rugby; we need to give them something they can identify with.

    We separate the two and our conference becomes our domestic league with our new friends Japan. We desperately need to create a level of interest to more than just a dwindling hardcore fan-base.

    We embrace the Sunwolves rather than treating them like some sort of cancer that we must live with. If they are a success, so are we.

    The draw. Well, this won’t be easy but the fact is we make it work. For too long, the draw in Super Rugby hinders the game here. The Australian conference may have to have an extra game in midweek or start a week earlier. Just make it work. I don’t believe that we cannot make it happen.

    Yes the purists will whinge. But, as for the Super Rugby draw and integrity, they parted company a long time ago.

    Ensure the draw assists each of the franchises to enable a better bottom line. We need to take advantage of public holidays like Easter, Anzac Day. In fact, why haven’t we maximised these dates already? Rugby constantly shoots itself in the foot here and then wonders why it is sore.

    Apparently, the draw is done by a consulting company. Well, they do a rubbish job. We should do the draw. Just get two geeks and some software, lock them in a room and don’t let them out until it’s done. If it’s not good then send them back in. Just get a better schedule.

    The ARU should mandate each franchisee takes one game to the bush each year, as we need to spread the game. I’m not talking about a pre-season game but a genuine Australian championship game. With only five teams we need a greater reach to potential fans.

    queensland-reds-super-rugby-2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    The ARU should introduce a system to assist in creating a more even spread of talent across the franchises. It’s not an easy task, but it must start somewhere. A draft maybe?

    Some other steps should also be taken:

    • Set up an independent commission (include the Sunwolves) to help run and administer the Australian championship conference of Super Rugby.
    • Prioritise the NRC, work on strengthening the links between Sydney and Brisbane and the NRC clubs, and link the Sunwolves to one of the NRC teams. Assist the Fijian team. Openly look at good ideas to help this comp. Who knows, one of the NRC teams may step up to Super status in the future.
    • Prioritise private ownership. We need money, and all teams should have a level of private ownership to assist with that bottom line.

    I’m sure there are other ideas than can help, but the prime objective is to create at least a perception of a competition more appealing to our domestic audience.

    It is important to remember that we are still part of the Super rugby championship and inter-conference games will continue as normal, but we must maximise our content. Some compromise may be needed in regards to finals to keep the Kiwis from completely spitting the dummy, but they would do well to remember they have been the greatest beneficiaries from Super Rugby.

    This won’t solve the immediate problem of Australia’s competitiveness (or lack thereof) in Super Rugby, but does anyone seriously think shrinking the game to niche status here is going to do that?

    Looking forward to 2020, what do we do to get there in good shape? Limp our way to the new broadcast deal? That will end well.

    Or maybe we go in with a vibrant conference and who knows what else.

    Maybe the ARU could turn this around, but right now they are essentially in an untenable position, a dead man walking. How about they go into bat for the code here and save the fifth team. It may just soften that collateral damage and then they can lay their cards out on the table and be honest with the rugby community.

    If sacrifices are needed, they should be made together, because the greatest savings will be made through growth.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • May 16th 2017 @ 4:49am
      Darwin Stubbie said | May 16th 2017 @ 4:49am | ! Report

      If it’s the ARU who wants the cull then can’t see them going into bat to keep the team …. they’ve signed up for the new proposed format – it’s now encumbent on Aust fans to hold them accountable to effect change below the top tier and to get out and support those lower tiers (which includes fronting and embracing the NRC – particularly in the region which loses its SR team)

    • May 16th 2017 @ 10:46am
      P2R2 said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      Australia have not proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that they can support 5 good SR teams….4 at best, and 3 as an optimum…further the expense is draining the coffers….so people who keep advocating for 5 teams are misled…sadly

    • May 16th 2017 @ 12:22pm
      Joe King said | May 16th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

      For the next three years, until the end of the current broadcast deal… it should be 3×6 closed conferences until the finals. Play everyone in your own conference home and away (10 games each) with the top two from each conference qualifying for the finals.

      Every conference would be vibrant and competitive.

      The national bodies could schedule their own conferences to suit the individual domestic markets. All games would be on at ideal times.

      The cross-over finals would carry a natural mystique and be highly anticipated, as fans wait to see only the best play the best.

      SR would finish before the June internationals – so no more break in SR.

      Oh, and no more travel problems.

      Yes, NZ and SA already have established domestic tournaments, and yes, this suggestion is a different philosophy to the original SR concept, but overall, the local derbies get the most viewers and create the most interest in each country.

      This would solve so many problems for rugby in Oz.

      It would only need to be a 3 year trial until the current broadcast deal ends. If it’s not working then we can always revert to something else.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 16th 2017 @ 2:31pm
        DogsOfWar said | May 16th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

        How many games do they need to play? At this point it seems 16 games. So you can still do exactly what you have said, and then use last seasons finishing positions to work out how to play 3 games against each of the other 2 conferences for a total of 16. So you still get a bit of international flair, but the bread and butter are local derbies.

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 12:48pm
      sheek said | May 16th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

      Hi Hog,

      I don’t care anymore if it is S18, S15, S16, S24, S33, or whatever.

      I do care however, about preserving the five Aussie provinces – New South Wales, Queensland, ACT, Victoria & Western Australia.

      These are the five provinces, or their nicknames, Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies, Rebels & Force, if they become national club teams, whenever the ARU gets around to building a genuine national domestic comp.

      In the meantime, by drawing upon BBL, give SANZAAR three or four meaningless teams with American nicknames & garish, eye-watering colour patterns.

      Since SANZAAR is purely about revenue streams, there’s no need for provinces with deep historical & traditional bases to be included in super rugby, just so they can be trashed whenever it pleases SANZAAR.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 10:06pm
        Sterling said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:06pm | ! Report

        You confuse me sometimes Sheek. Do you really see the Reds, Tahs, Brumbies, Rebels and Force as provincial teams? They are franchises based in capital cities. Unfortunately the ones based in Brisbane and Sydney are using their respective states traditional representative team names.

    • May 17th 2017 @ 7:12am
      hog said | May 17th 2017 @ 7:12am | ! Report

    • May 17th 2017 @ 9:26pm
      Chris said | May 17th 2017 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

      God the years 1989-1994 where is brilliant and simple for both Rugby codes in Australia and New Zealand.

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