Where does the ARU stand on Super Rugby format changes?

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    SANZAAR has met in London and after two days of “robust” discussion will meet for “further discussion and consultation” before “final discussion and consultation” that allows “the adoption of changes proposed by the strategic plan,” according to a brief statement from its chief executive Andy Marinos.

    Marinos stated, too, that there will be further information from SANZAAR sometime within the “coming days” after the national unions take the proposed changes back to their board and the broadcasters for a final agreement.

    The point here is that the broadcasters have the final decision. They provide the money, so they have to confirm the final outcome of what the unions agree to agree about.

    In the case of the ARU, this broadcast money (for Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship) over the term of the current contract that expires in 2020 is $285m. This money is the life blood of rugby in Australia.

    The ARU, in its current dire financial situation, needs to agree with a format that enhances its cut of the deal, even at some cost to the structure of the game here.

    Trying to decipher where this slippery officialese jargon from SANZAAR’s short statement is leading to, though, is as tricky as trying to eat spaghetti with a knife. But here goes.

    There is going to be some change to the current 18-team format. But what that change will be is still up in the air.

    Any change is likely to keep the Sunwolves and the Jaguares in the tournament. Why? Because the strategic thinking within SANZAAR is that the tournament, over time, has to growth further than the original three SANZAR nations – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – to reach its financial potential.

    The broadcasters are on board with this growth concept because the tournament already generates large amounts of money from its re-broadcasts in Europe.

    The Sunwolves bring the huge Asian market (especially after the 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament is Japan) into play.

    The Jaguares allow for a further expansion, sometime in the future, into the Americas market where four national sides have played in Rugby World Cup tournaments.

    This growth notion, it needs to be remembered, runs directly counter to a format of 15 teams in three conferences in 2018 and then a Trans-Tasman tournament when the broadcasting rights are re-negotiated that the former ARU chief executive, John O’Neill, has recently proposed.

    The problem with this excellent O’Neill concept is that the New Zealand Rugby Union is determined, for rugby and historical reasons, to maintain as much of the New Zealand-South Africa rugby connection as it can.

    Moreover, there are grave fears about the future competitiveness and financial health of Australian rugby within the New Zealand rugby community. Part of the fear is a lack of respect for the rugby nous of the ARU current board, its chairman and its chief executive.

    The ARU has rather heroically refused to outline its preferred position on a new format. Chief executive Bill Pulver told rugby journalists recently that the board had prepared responses to a number of different possibilities and prefers to take a wider world view, rather than a narrow Australian approach, to the matter.

    CEO of Australian Rugby Union Bill Pulver

    One of the aspects of the ARU’s negotiations that has puzzled people within the rugby community is the negotiations in London were conducted on the ARU’s side by Bill Pulver and board member Brett Robinson.

    Robinson is a former Wallaby and captain of the Brumbies, a doctor who has an additional degree from Oxford University and a businessman.

    These are impressive credentials. But he is not the chairman of the ARU.

    These negotiations require or should require the full authority of the ARU being invested in them. This means that the current chairman, Cameron Clyne, should have been leading the ARU’s team.

    The “international stuff” apparently doesn’t interest Clyne. He has delegated his chairman responsibilities to Robinson. Well, he should step down to make way for someone who is interested and knowledgeable about SANZAAR and World Rugby politics, someone like O’Neill.

    This negligence on the part of Clyne (and the need for experience and expertise in negotiation from someone like O’Neill) is all the more shameful in that the ARU has a weak hand to play in these negotiations.

    New Zealand Super Rugby teams playing in New Zealand apparently out-rate the Australian teams playing in Australia on Fox Sports.

    This is hardly surprising given the lacklustre play of the Australian teams and the often brilliant play of the New Zealand sides, with the woeful kickathon on Saturday night between the Blues and the Highlanders being an exception.

    Then there is the current weak performance of the Australian teams.

    The Brumbies lost their first two matches of the season for the first time since 1999. They were better, especially defensively, in their win over the weekend against the Force. But they (the Brumbies) are yet to defeat an overseas side.

    However, the Brumbies were hardly a side that looks like a championship contender. The Force were leading 17-13 going into the final ten minutes of play. But a yellow card against Force second-rower Ross Haylett-Petty gave the Brumbies the impetus to score two tries and storm to victory 25–17.

    The Reds managed to turn victory into defeat with a brain-dead series of hit-ups right on time and inside their own half. A Reds forward flopped over the ball to seal it off and gave away a penalty that was successfully converted by the Crusaders number 10, Mitch Hunt.

    Australian teams should know (remember Bloemfontein, Wayne Barnes, Kurtley Beale?) that in this sort of situation, only 35m out from their posts, that the Reds should have adopted the Bob Dwyer call and “kick it to the shit house!”

    The Reds got some mongrel back into their game in front of over 17,931 spectators. Good. But they conceded a 20–7 lead in the last 18 minutes of play. Not so good.

    Reds player Samu Kerevi

    Ironically, it was Samu Kerevi who gave away the crucial penalty after he had played a blinder with his busting runs and a storming try.

    The Waratahs have lost both their matches in South Africa. The Lions thrashed them two weeks ago 55–36 at Johannesburg. This was the first time the Waratahs have conceded over 50 points since the 96–19 thrashing handed out to them by the Crusaders in 2002. Only 14,000 viewers watched the match on Fox Sports.

    What irked me in watching the Waratahs going down 37–14 on Sunday night was the fact they did not play the traditional Waratahs ensemble, ball-in-hand game.

    In the first minute of play, Nick Phipps put in two (two!) box kicks. The first one was charged down. The second one barely went past the Waratahs 22. The Sharks snaffled the ball and after a series of phases scored the opening try.

    The Sharks, on the other hand, were inventive in their lineout plays, ran the ball well, counter-attacked or kicked long and generally played the muscular South African game with plenty of strong running from the backs.

    It was rugby that was a joy to watch, unlike the Waratahs’ rugby-by-numbers style.

    At half-time, the score line was 31–7 to the Sharks. But the fatigue of coming back from Australia set in. The Sharks knocked over only two penalties in the second half. The Waratahs (who had been in South Africa for over a week), scored a second try, once again by Israel Folau when the game was lost.

    The final scoreline was a 37–14 drubbing.

    A dejected Israel Folau of the Waratahs

    The most disappointing feature of the game from an Australian perspective was that the best young player on the field, coming on early as a substitute for Patrick Lambie, was a baby-faced rugby assassin, Curwin Bosch.

    This youngster looks like the real deal. He has had a brilliant schoolboys career and took to the new challenge of Super Rugby with an aplomb, style, skill, pace and kicking ability that reminded me (and this is the highest praise I can give) of a young, slender Dan Carter.

    Michael Cheika has identified the centres from the Force, the former NRL star Curtis Rona and Bill Meakes, along with the young Rebels flier Jack Maddocks, as the best emerging players he spotted in the first two rounds.

    But take it from me, none of these three has the potential of the Sharks youngster, Curwin Bosch.

    Now, back to the format of a future Super Rugby tournament.

    The Sydney Morning Herald is running a story stating that “reports out of New Zealand suggest the New Zealand Rugby Union went into the SANZAAR meeting that Australia cut one team and South Africa cut two.”

    The story headed, ‘Axe looms over Australian and South African Super Rugby teams as New Zealand Rugby demands competition cut’ was written by Tom Decent and Georgina Robinson and looks to be sourced from within the ARU.

    It claims the New Zealand Rugby Union wants a 15-team competition, with five teams from New Zealand, four from Australia, four from South Africa, together with the Sunwolves and the Jaguares (presumably) making up the 15 teams.

    It claims, too, that a decision has been reached and “would be announced in coming days.”

    But what decision?

    The story had these confusing (to me, at least) paragraphs: “If the New Zealand Rugby Union did in fact flex its muscle, and given all the unions have to agree on the make-up of the competition, the ARU may have been left with no other options but to get rid of one of its teams.

    “However, for South Africa to give up two teams seems a little less likely given they pushed so hard to expand from five sides to six not so long ago …

    “An 18-team model could still get the green light, with the idea being to introduce a three-conference system consisting of six teams apiece, with Japan joining five Australian teams and Argentina linking up with the five New Zealand outfits.”

    A report in the New Zealand Herald on Sunday, titled ‘Changes to be made to Super Rugby’, suggests that the 15-team option is not a goer, at least in the short term: “A summit meeting in London has concluded that there will be changes to Super Rugby, with details set to be released early next week …

    “Certainly New Zealand is in favour of making changes to the 2018 format – believing the current set up is not fair in regards to the pathway teams have to the play-offs.”

    No mention here of the New Zealand Rugby Union option of a 15-team tournament.

    Officials are also reluctant to unscramble a mess they have created. They almost always try to tart it up with small changes to make it seem more palatable.

    My guess from all of this, therefore, is that the 18-team, three-conference system will be approved for 2018 and up to the 2020 re-negotiations.

    This concept is tarted up for the ARU by enabling it to keep its five teams and for the SARU keeping its six teams.

    And the New Zealand Rugby Union? It gets a reduced amount of travelling and more local games, and, I am fearlessly predicting, a finals system that gives a ranked place to the top eight teams rather than the present system whereby the top conference teams get an automatic home final, whether they are a leading team or not.

    It still rankles in New Zealand that the Highlanders had to play a final against the Brumbies in Canberra last year, even though they were ahead of them on the tournament ladder 52 points to 43.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (239)

    • March 13th 2017 @ 7:33am
      concerned supporter said | March 13th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      You are 100% correct when you say that the broadcasters have the final decision.Sanzaar is only about the $$$$’s
      Love “slippery officialese jargon from Sanzaar’s short statement. A classic.Don’t you tremble when people use the expression “strategic plan” or “dialogue”, they are currently buzz words to impress the hoi polloi?

      • March 13th 2017 @ 1:51pm
        Bored said | March 13th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

        The upside if there is one, if the Force were to be the team cut. The NRL will no doubt bung a club in WA to fill the vacuum. So the WARU can switch to league.

        In Victoria if the Rebels are cut, the VRL can take over from VRU and absorb all the players and clubs into it’s organisation.

        The good news is, the other Super rugby clubs will supposedly have stronger lists, that is if noone else leaves to play in Japan, UK or France.

        It just looks bleak anyway you look at it for union in Australia.

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2017 @ 4:36pm
        pformagg said | March 13th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

        well, you can’t have a comp without money. If its not working, then they need to change to make the money, to pay the players and the admin

    • March 13th 2017 @ 7:41am
      Lostintokyo said | March 13th 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      Thanks Spiro. An important week for Australian rugby. Unfortunately I can’t see an easy solution to this mess. Perhaps there is none.

      The Southern Hemisphere had better get its act together and quick or risk being swallowed up as a feeder system to a sort of Premiere Comp in the north.

      Has the ARU ever faced such a grave and complex problem?

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2017 @ 8:27am
        Fionn said | March 13th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        I fear that the future of the game is essentially that of soccer: the rich northern hemisphere clubs in Europe buy all the best players in the world, while the Southern Hemisphere teams only get together for the internationals.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 9:21am
          John said | March 13th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          Two more tries for Folau, Fionn.

          • Roar Guru

            March 13th 2017 @ 9:30am
            Fionn said | March 13th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

            John, it’s good to see him snap out of his slump finally. About time, wasn’t it? But I think his performance on the weekend again shows his abilities as a finisher of opportunities rather than creator. He doesn’t score ’13’ style tries like Kerevi. Once again proved he should be a finisher on the wing.

            • March 13th 2017 @ 10:02am
              John said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

              His game has never been just about scoring tries Fionn. Bloke is playing at 50% of his capability, in a dud side. His 50% just happens to be better than good form from other players.

              • Roar Guru

                March 13th 2017 @ 11:37am
                Fionn said | March 13th 2017 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                I’ll agree about the dud side. It’s hard to shine when you’re being fed balls by Phipps and co, and behind a forward pack led by Mumm and Robertson.

                That said, it’s a bit of a blow to your theory when he’s able to score a lot at Super Rugby in a very average team but is unable to find the try line in international rugby in the third best side in the world, and in one where guys like Kerevi and Hayley-Petty and even foley are able to find the tryline consistently. Smacks of the fact that he’s able to impose himself against poor defences but not against international quality defences. That said, if he can keep up this form in the internationals then it bodes very well for the Wallabies’ chances. Having an in-form Folau + in form Kerevi and Kuridrani might give us a chance of beating some decent teams.

              • March 13th 2017 @ 12:19pm
                John said | March 13th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                You mustn’t watch the games Fionn, or understand it.
                Every time the ball goes near Folau, three defenders rush up on him. This generates opportunities for teammates which he himself has created, either through his presence alone or through catch/passing or offloading in traffic.
                DHP, Kerevi, Kurindrani etc will continue to benefit from Folau being in the backline, wherever he plays.
                All three of them will also finish their careers with inferior try scoring records at both club and Test level.

              • Roar Guru

                March 13th 2017 @ 12:24pm
                Fionn said | March 13th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                That’s literally exactly what happens when the ball gets to both Kerevi and Kuridrani too, mate. Folau was getting swarmed during 2013-14 as well, mate, but he was still scoring consistently, that all changed in 2015 internationals. Until the Spring tour last year Folau rarely played first receiver, bringing in defenders either. He wasn’t often scoring in 2015-16 internationals despite this.

                Well, mate, I guess we’ll see, but I can foresee Kerevi ending his career with more tries than Folau at least in internationals.

              • March 13th 2017 @ 12:35pm
                John said | March 13th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

                He better get moving!

      • March 13th 2017 @ 1:03pm
        woodart said | March 13th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        so, right now, the worst aus team, in terms of thrashings, is the warratahs, axe the warratahs!!!!,,,,lol

        • Roar Rookie

          March 13th 2017 @ 7:21pm
          Kirky said | March 13th 2017 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

          If any teams should go if it’s a necessity, the Rebels because they’re never going to be any great shakes as a top rugby side in Melbourne, wins/losses and crowd attendances vindicate that, ~ The Brumbies are badly broke and the cupboard is bare also with their unenviable record so far they need to go and at the end of the day who wants to go to Canberra and get your nuts frozen anyway, lousy weather syndrome!

          Everyone seems to like hitting on the Force and I can’t see why, they are viable, have wonderful facilities and a good Local background of Local teams right through the grades and they were very unlucky not to win last weekend as the sub standard display of Refereeing ensured they got through, the rugby quality was very ordinary!

          Brumbies and the Rebels to go!

          • March 14th 2017 @ 10:47am
            Bakkies said | March 14th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

            Kirky I know you have a high standard for spouting trash but that post is the cream on the top. Congratulations.

      • March 13th 2017 @ 1:45pm
        Bakkies said | March 13th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        ‘Has the ARU ever faced such a grave and complex problem?’

        Yes Super League and Ross Turnbull’s World Rugby Corporation at the same time. No salary caps and players were signed to both organisations

        • March 13th 2017 @ 2:16pm
          concerned supporter said | March 13th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

          Long memory Bakkies, but you are right.

    • March 13th 2017 @ 7:44am
      Lesterlike said | March 13th 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      I’m sure whatever position Pulver takes will likely be the wrong one, as is tradition for nearly ever major decision the ARU has made regarding Super Rugby since forever. Australian Rugby needs to take a stand and admit that Super Rugby is utterly flawed. There is no chance fixing it whilst it remains a quasi domestic farce before the demands of the game in the North swallows Sanzaar whole.

    • March 13th 2017 @ 7:52am
      Daveski said | March 13th 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      Nice comprehensive summary of the weekend and Friday in London, Spiro. By God that Andy Marinos is a bore!

      My feelings were yours exactly watching the Tahs and Bosch who was the one who put the deft kick in behind to defeat the Brumbies on the bell the week before looks a real player. As does their centre Lukhanyo Am. But the real Sharks star is 21yr old backrower Robert Du Preez. The Waratahs couldn’t handle him. I believe his equally good twin brother is back from injury next week. If Lambie stays healthy they’ve got a good enough side to give this comp a crack I think.

      • March 13th 2017 @ 10:22am
        Sean said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        You mean Jean-Luc du Preez. Robert is his father, ex-Bok scrumhalf and current Sharks coach. The other Robert du Preez is his older brother, who’s playing flyhalf for the Stormers.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 10:42am
          Daveski said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          Too many Du Preezes ! But you are right, it’s Jean Luc who’s been so impressive the last few weeks and Daniel who is his twin brother, also a back rower, coming back from injury.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 10:47pm
          superba said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

          I thought Jean Luc DuP is the Stormers 10.

          • March 13th 2017 @ 10:54pm
            superba said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

            just checked .
            Jean Luc du Plessis is the Stormers 10 .
            This is confusing !!

            • March 14th 2017 @ 7:40am
              Loftus said | March 14th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

              They are 3 brothers…1 pair of twins play loose forwards for the Sharks and the other one is fly half for the Stormers. Sons of ex Bok scrum half, Robert du Preez.
              Jean Luc fu Plessis also plays fly half for the Stormers, son of of ex Bok wing, Carel du Plessis.

      • March 14th 2017 @ 7:35am
        Loftus said | March 14th 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

        They will make the play offs and lose badly against the 1st NZ team they face…just like usual

    • March 13th 2017 @ 8:16am
      Blue Horned Mike said | March 13th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      So a three conference system? Play everyone in your conference once (5 matches), play the other two conferences with 3 home matches and 3 away matches per conference (12 matches)? This would total 17 matches (9 Home, 8 Away or 8 Home, 9 Away) with 2 Byes.

      Or play everyone in your conference twice (10 matches), play three teams each from each of the other two conferences (6 matches)? This would total 16 matches (8 Home, 8 Away) with 2 Byes.

      I would go with option one more, but the schedule must be arranged right to prevent too many successive weeks of travel.

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2017 @ 12:34pm
        Cadfael said | March 13th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

        I would also like to see the conferences back to 5 apiece. The SA system stuffs up everyone.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 2:40pm
          Boomeranga said | March 13th 2017 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

          Why did they not just opt for three conferences of 6 with the Moondogs in Oz and Haguars in NZ? I’m sure there is a reason, I just cant remember it .

          • March 13th 2017 @ 4:49pm
            Robert said | March 13th 2017 @ 4:49pm | ! Report


          • Roar Guru

            March 13th 2017 @ 6:13pm
            Cadfael said | March 13th 2017 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

            Not a problem, good idea.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 13th 2017 @ 7:26pm
          Kirky said | March 13th 2017 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

          Exactly, the South Africans have never warranted extra teams in any way so why have they got them?

          • March 14th 2017 @ 7:42am
            Loftus said | March 14th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

            Probably because they have 10x as many players than Aus and Sanzar isn t only there to benefit only Aus.rugby?

      • March 13th 2017 @ 6:23pm
        Kevin Higginson said | March 13th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

        Option B is better as it involves a lot less travel, and then the 3 from each conference could be based on finishing positions the previous season.
        So 1, 2, 3 play 1, 2 & 3 from each conference, and 4,5 & 6 play each other for the 6 other matches.

        The finals should still have the group winners from each conference, but then have the next 3 teams on the ladder, regardless of conference.
        Finals series would be
        Week 1
        Wildcard 2 v Wildcard 3
        Conference winner 3 v Wildcard 3

        Week 2
        Conference 1 v lowest ranked winner from week 1
        Conference 2 v highest ranked winner from week 1

        Week 3
        Bye week gives time for recovery, jet lag etc to settle, time for press to build match up, time for extra tickets to be sold

        Week 4
        Grand Final played a pre booked venue, (more money as cities would bid to host final)

        This would give a total of a 21 week season, (regular season would include 1 bye week to give total of 17 weeks).

        I would also completely remove the June/July tests and move them to one block of 7 weeks combined with the NH internationals in September/October, same time as RWC, meaning one year would have no internationals.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 8:31pm
          English twizz said | March 13th 2017 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

          What about the NH leagues sept is the start of the season

    • March 13th 2017 @ 8:27am
      Steve said | March 13th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      I know this might sound obvious to regular contributors but I finally realised the problem with Super Rugby. A couple of weeks ago we had a working bee at my local club, about 35 people attended, cleaning the club house, clearing out storage sheds etc. This year the club has more juniors than ever, 50% more sponsorship and no shortage of volunteers and coaches. From the 35 there I would say less than 15 would know who Michael Hooper was and less than 5 would watch more than one game of Super Rugby a year. Rugby people don’t care about it. If it ended tomorrow I doubt whether local grassroots rugby would even notice.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • March 13th 2017 @ 8:41am
        bigbaz said | March 13th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report


      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2017 @ 8:49am
        Diggercane said | March 13th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

        That is interesting Steve.

        Would that be related to a lack of FTA perhaps?

        • March 13th 2017 @ 9:33am
          Lesterlike said | March 13th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          It could be on FTA and many still wouldn’t be interested. I gave up on SR and watch basically any other rugby on offer.

          The format is difficult to follow, the franchise teams are bland and people aren’t going to be gripped by a competition that is designed to be little more than a glorified international selection trial.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 13th 2017 @ 9:46am
          Dwards said | March 13th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          Not only FTA. It’s the timing.
          You can’t reliably sit down on a Friday night or Sunday arvo and watch the Rugby so it just can’t get traction.
          This is my first year with a Foxtel play subscription (so I can’t record) and first season watching at all. My poor wife just can’t get her head around when I’m watching and what I’m watching.
          I think the timing issue is larger than the FTA one.

          • Roar Guru

            March 13th 2017 @ 10:07am
            Diggercane said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

            Cheers Dwards, missing out a trick on Sunday arvos, I agree.

            • Roar Rookie

              March 13th 2017 @ 10:16am
              Dwards said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

              How are you still awake Digger?

              • Roar Guru

                March 13th 2017 @ 11:24am
                Diggercane said | March 13th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report


              • Roar Guru

                March 13th 2017 @ 11:33am
                Who Needs Melon said | March 13th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                Hahaha. DC with 4 little letters says so much to anyone that’s been there before.

                Hang in there!

              • Roar Rookie

                March 13th 2017 @ 11:36am
                Dwards said | March 13th 2017 @ 11:36am | ! Report

                Know that.
                Hopefully yours don’t suffer with the same issue mine have – Union-League confusion disorder. SO many conversations, so little progress!

          • March 13th 2017 @ 2:05pm
            Jimbo81 said | March 13th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

            I cancelled my Foxtel subscription and won’t watch super rugby now (unless at a Friend’s place or the Pub (managed this well so far). Fox sports is $25 but you have to buy the basic subscription first which is $50 or thereabouts for pure garbage. Netflix and Stan cost $20 combined and the content is so much better. Foxtel have to drop the price of their basic package or offer the sports package as a stand alone, or Rugby needs to go free to air – otherwise the Aussie spectator won’t tune in.

            I was paying $90 / month for foxtel (had movies, recordable, sport and basic). Absolute Joke!

          • March 13th 2017 @ 2:42pm
            Bakkies said | March 13th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

            ‘You can’t reliably sit down on a Friday night or Sunday arvo and watch the Rugby so it just can’t get traction.’

            Friday night, Are you serious? There is always a game on from NZ at 5:30 and often afterwards an Aussie based match.

            The problem is these days that despite the answer staring themselves in the face people are still expecting to be spoon fed basic information

            • March 13th 2017 @ 4:32pm
              Jacko said | March 13th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

              Agree bakkie. If you want to watch, it is there to watch. And it can even be recorded and watched when it suits.

            • March 13th 2017 @ 6:20pm
              soapit said | March 13th 2017 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

              so there isnt always a match at 7:30. a lot of people arent in a position to sit down and watch rugby from 5:30

      • March 13th 2017 @ 9:33am
        Michaelj said | March 13th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        You nailed it. Grass roots wins every time. Super rugby is a luxury for jet setters that live out of a suitcase. They must suffer permanent jet lag and time dissociation syndrome.

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2017 @ 9:44am
        stillmissit said | March 13th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        I noticed the same thing in our local subbies teams. They watch and follow league and no next to nothing about union and don’t care much. Those that do know a bit are mostly Kiwi’s.

        The problem you will face Steve and it is happening worldwide is huge registration numbers and then struggle to put a 3rd or 4th grade team on the paddock on Saturday.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 2:47pm
          Bakkies said | March 13th 2017 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

          ‘I noticed the same thing in our local subbies teams. They watch and follow league and no next to nothing about union and don’t care much. ‘

          So why are they spending money on subs playing Rugby?

      • March 13th 2017 @ 10:15am
        Boris said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        There’s something in this Steve. It’s unusual when you think about it.

        My local club is fairly strong and has historic community support for rugby. But post-game half the people in the clubhouse would rather watch the NRL over super rugby. Maybe it stems from pro rugby’s lack of consistent visibility.

      • March 13th 2017 @ 10:18am
        Sammy said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        I imagine this post was from Australia Steve?

        Rugby people in Australia don’t care…it sucks, but the world of Rugby doesn’t revolve around Australia. Please stop saying because its not doing well in Australia that no one watches Super Rugby. Its just arrogance!!! the rest of us around the world are loving the 6 nations…the way NZ Super teams play there Rugby, and the closeness of the French Rugby top 14.

        Just because 1country cant get there crap together ( Australia), all of a sudden the game of Super Rugby or Rugby in general is dead!!! Aussie arrogance again at its best.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 10:52am
          mania said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          I imagine your correct there Sammy. could’ve used some tact but then you are a lot more restrained than you could’ve been.

          I’ve been saying for a few months now but people don’t believe me. bottom line is

          If ARU doesn’t get its sh!t together they will get kicked out of SuperRugby. this demise is similar imo to what happened to Wales in the 70’s. who went from rugby being their #1 sport and being a giant killer to what they are now. a footnote at every world cup.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 10:53am
          Steve said | March 13th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          I think you’ve totally misinterpreted what I’ve written.

          • March 13th 2017 @ 12:06pm
            rock said | March 13th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

            Yep, completely misinterpreted it.

            Somehow from saying that ‘Super Rugby’ has a problem, your saying that World Rugby is struggling – puzzling conclusion isn’t it.

            • March 13th 2017 @ 1:15pm
              Steve said | March 13th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

              Where have I mentioned world rugby?

          • March 13th 2017 @ 12:10pm
            Michaelj said | March 13th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            Yes they have. Circus rugby is a Euro thing, not right for us

      • March 13th 2017 @ 1:06pm
        Nick Ferris said | March 13th 2017 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

        Steve, you are right. I’ll watch the Waratahs any time, and I’d like to see the other Aust teams. But I really don’t care about the Sth Afician teams and the NZ one are good to watch, but I don’t care who wins with games outside of Oz.

        FTA doesn’t help either.

        I can’t get excited about a made up “brand” for a team, but watch Nt Queenland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos and you can feel the rivalry.

        Maybe work on a good domestic comp and enter 2 composite sides for NZ, SthA, Jap, Arg and Pacific Island comp.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 1:17pm
          Michaelj said | March 13th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          Domestic comp yes, but no composite teams, it will make them feel like second class visitors. I can’t imagine that the Kiwis will happily play second fiddle to our rugby.

          • March 13th 2017 @ 1:34pm
            Michaelj said | March 13th 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

            People still don’t get it. You need clubs with community identity and tradition, not corporate focus groups.

        • March 13th 2017 @ 2:56pm
          Bakkies said | March 13th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          ‘I can’t get excited about a made up “brand” for a team, but watch Nt Queenland Cowboys v Brisbane Broncos and you can feel the rivalry.’

          Made up brand? The Cowboys and Broncos aren’t that much older than the Canes, Chiefs, Blues, Highlanders and Crusaders.

        • March 14th 2017 @ 7:46pm
          Markie362 said | March 14th 2017 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

          How many broncos are there in Brisbane if u want to talk about made up team identitys

        • March 15th 2017 @ 5:42pm
          Jacko said | March 15th 2017 @ 5:42pm | ! Report

          All teams are made up at some point

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