It’s time to simplify Super Rugby

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By Patstick, Patstick is a Roar Rookie New author!


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    There are two burning questions that need to be addressed for Australian rugby to move forward.

    1. How to move professional rugby ahead effectively with the current broadcast arrangement?
    The current Super Rugby format is unworkable, confusing and unsustainable. However, this lemon of a structure was sold to broadcasters for a five-year deal.

    So how can we tweak what we have to be more palatable until 2020?

    Easy, we scrap the four-conference system in favour of a three-conference system:
    1. South Africa teams
    2. Australia plus Japan
    3. New Zealand plus Argentina

    Each team plays everyone in their conference home and away. They then play three teams from each of the other two conferences, rotating every two years.

    The finals would be a top eight, with each conference champion and runner up getting automatic spots, and the remaining two spots to the highest placed teams on a combined Super Rugby ladder.

    I understand not every team plays each other and that’s not ideal, but this is the best of a bad situation.

    I also understand that the New Zealand teams and fans will rightly cry foul and say that this final system undermines their prospects, but no matter what is put infront of Kiwi teams, they will find a way to win it all.

    This conference would go a long way to rebuilding the rugby faithful of Australia, while also giving the other partners distinct benefits they will help them progress.

    And while trying to placate a five-headed monster of New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Japan with one solution is nigh-on impossible, we have to do our best.
    The Sunwolves captain Shota Horie

    2. What to do after the current broadcast deal ends?
    This is where bold leadership is required.

    When a new broadcast deal is struck, the broadcasters want more content. If we can strike a balance between a free-to-air network and Foxtel, then rugby can again begin to grow.

    I see an easy enough solution to this ‘more content’ issue, while giving each of the SANZAAR partners some autonomy.

    Instead of trying to over-expand and complicate Super Rugby, it is time to simplify.

    Each of the four SANZAAR nations should play their own national championship.

    Although not every Aussie rugby supporter likes the NRC, they would surely concede that unless we have our own national competition, we are doomed to become insignificant, and freefall down the world rankings.

    The NRC still needs a little rejigging. My teams would be North Brisbane, South Brisbane, North Harbour, South Harbour, Western Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Perth. I know Queensland and NSW country supporters will be screaming bloody murder, but these teams have no home base for regular games. However, I would take one home game each year from the two Queensland sides and the three NSW sides to the country to help ease the loss.

    Playing each other home and away gives us a 14-week competition, with two weeks of finals, plus the Horan-Little Shield.

    Each SANZAAR union would run its own national championship and finals series as they see fit. The only stipulation on each of the competitions is that it must contain at least eight teams, meaning a minimum of 16 games per week across four different time zones.

    Now comes the interesting part: Super Rugby but with a twist.

    Super Rugby to be split into four competitions: Super Rugby Cup, Super Rugby Plate, Super Rugby Bowl and Super Rugby Shield a la sevens rugby.

    The top two teams from each of the NPC, Currie Cup, NRC and Nacional de Clubes qualify for the Super Rugby Cup (SRC), three and four qualify for the Super Rugby Plate (SRP), five and six qualify for the Super Rugby Bowl (SRB) and seven and eight qualify for the Super Rugby Shield (SRS).

    So each of the competitions has two teams from each of the SANZAAR national competitions.

    This way, each country can host a championship on a rotational basis:

    2021 – Australia host the SRC, SA the SRP, New Zealand the SRB, and Argentina the SRS
    2022 – Australia host the SRS, SA the SRC, New Zealand the SRP, and Argentina the SRB
    2023 – Australia host SRB, SA the SRS, New Zealand the SRC, and Argentina the SRP
    2024 – Australia host the SRP, SA the SRB, New Zealand the SRS, and Argentina the SRC

    This way, every SANZAAR nation hosts a multinational championship every year, all SANZAAR nations have four chances at some silverware, all players only travel to the host nation and stay for the duration, and broadcasters have four ‘best of the best’ championships over four time zones.

    Obviously, these tournaments will be followed by inbound tours, the Rugby Championship and outbound tours.

    That’s my vision anyway, what do you think Roarers?

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • March 17th 2017 @ 4:26am
      Eloise said | March 17th 2017 @ 4:26am | ! Report

      In their current form the Kiwis would get two conference toppers and two other sides into the finals. The thing to do and make it actually fair – and it won’t always work for the Kiwis – would be to not have home matches based on conference standings but on overall competition points.

      I do like the idea of the various club/provincial sides playing off too. It’s good for development, exposure and all round fun. I’m not sure SANZAAR are that smart though!

    • March 17th 2017 @ 5:17am
      Darwin Stubbie said | March 17th 2017 @ 5:17am | ! Report

      You can’t dictate to the individual unions how many teams they have in their domestic leagues – how many and how they run their second tier is up to them

      and if you’re going down the 3 X 6 conferences initially then it is far better to mix them all up – otherwise you’ll never get it past the SANZAR decision makers and more particularly the fanbase … can you imagine the outcry from the other 2 conferences fans about that proposed Aust conference

      • March 17th 2017 @ 9:23am
        Unanimous said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        A transnational comission running all professional teams across the nations could do this. It probably wouldn’t do exactly this, but it might run national or regional championships plus a champions league. The point of the comission would be to keep the national leagues in balance so that the champions league would be competitive. The national leagues would be for local rivalry.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 6:30am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:30am | ! Report

      Why so, Darwin?

      • March 17th 2017 @ 6:45am
        Darwin Stubbie said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:45am | ! Report

        Because they are run solely by the home union … they’re dealing with their own provincal stakeholders and fitting into and around their needs – SR is a conglomerate run by consensus (which is the reason we’re at this mess) so they can dictate their own competition structure – i cant see any of the respective countries accepting outside direction on how they are to run their second tiers … as it stands there is nothing stopping the ARU from changing their pathways and having each seasons top 4 NRC teams feeding into the following years SR as that years representatives – whether that’s workable wb up to the ARU to decide

        • March 17th 2017 @ 9:17am
          Unanimous said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

          SA did exactly this for the first 2 or 3 years of Super Rugby. It didn’t work for them because they were playing against 3 Aus teams and 5 NZ teams that each had all of each nations best players, while the SA teams were the best 4 of 14 teams with the nations talent spread scross the best 7 or 8 of those.

    • March 17th 2017 @ 6:42am
      mania said | March 17th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      patstick – you are correct about the NRC but it has to start a lot earlier. it needs to start at highschool level at a minimum. but if u can get the highschools involved it will cast a wider net.

      i was in total agreeance with the first part. the 2nd part is way too complex. stick with your first suggestion
      what you also have to keep in mind is that by the time this deal ends there will already be contingencies in place and chances are it will expand to north america and/or further into asia.

      • March 17th 2017 @ 10:10am
        Stin said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Good point about the need to start things at high school. I would shake it up completely and use some version of the Waratah Shield structure and have state/region wide competition. Scrapping the traditional associations would be a difficult proposition though.

        • March 17th 2017 @ 10:33am
          mania said | March 17th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          then I wouldn’t start in NSW. do it in WA and use that as a model.
          u would have to offer big prize money ($1 mil?) to be paid to the school else you’ll never get any buy in. you would also have to engage volunteers, the heart of grassroots. those volunteers I would buy merchandise for them to give away to entice kids. mouth guards , water bottles, posters of WBs (or the ABs ;)) etc.
          it’ll take a lot of organisation but if u love this game and want to see it flourish in aus then this is the only way I can it happening.

          ps if you think $1 mil is too much your thinking too small. I think ARU has spent something like $300+ mil so far on their super teams and league players. this is a much better investment with infinitely better returns.
          Aus is losing the next generation of rugby players. its already lost the current generation

    • March 17th 2017 @ 8:56am
      Sul said | March 17th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Now i am totally confused. Haven’t you heard of the KISS concept “Keep it Simple Stupid”

    • March 17th 2017 @ 9:04am
      tyrone said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      I still do not understand how Super Rugby is confusing, the draw is released and you play it. It is a simple conference system.

      It is not hard to understand, it is stupid and ridiculous though.

      Easiest solution is a season where you play every team once. This year at home, next year away. Then a finals series.

      For the Aussie teams the pre season is 4 (possibly three if we lose a team) games against the other Aussie teams at the opposite ground as the season proper.

      This gives us a home and away season and we can have our own trophy if it is wanted.

      • March 17th 2017 @ 9:21am
        Where the fark is Yarck? said | March 17th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        I suspect that is just a cop out comment to say you cannot understand it. What people are saying is the matches are on well after midnight, very few are watching. Then you have teamnames like Stormers? Isn’t that Melbourne?

        The icing is it is only on live on FoxSports. 20 percent of Australian households have this system. I would do what the AFL does, show the home teams matches on FTA live.

        Looks like SANZAAR is learning the hardway. Really the bosses should be asked to depart.