Super Rugby needs to be saved – here’s how

wre01 Roar Guru

By wre01, wre01 is a Roar Guru


61 Have your say

    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 @ 1:13pm
      P2R2 said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

      …another response to your comment….

      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.

      Who cares if SA goes North….they want to do that anyway because they can’t win in this current competition.
      NZ rugby will be a winner because they will get AUS to join them along with the PI nations and Japan and USA – the calibre of rugby by those teams (including AUS) will get better and so Rugby will be the winner:)

    • March 20th 2017 @ 1:21pm
      Fin said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      I don’t think the Australian market wants that. The games are horrible to watch and not playing the Kiwi and African sides as often won’t do anything to improve standards, in fact both Australian and SouthAfrican Conferences have gone down hill since the extra derbys came in. I can only assume it’s the cost of travel that is an issue or the players don’t like it.

      • March 20th 2017 @ 6:49pm
        Republican said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

        …….sorry no disrespect, but I reckon as a spectacle, Union is horrible to watch period.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm
      no one in particular said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

      5 x NZ teams
      4 x Aust teams
      5 x SA teams
      1x Arg tea

      15 teams, 14 rounds, every plays each other once. No need for conferences or anything. Top 4 play off

      • March 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm
        Working Class Rugger said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        Travel would be huge in such a tournament. Something SA in particular doesn’t want. Also, if we were to lose a team I want a full schedule of derbies. Which means adding an extra 3 games tp that schedule.

    • Roar Guru

      March 20th 2017 @ 1:54pm
      Cadfael said | March 20th 2017 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

      One point ill agree on is the travel. I don’t think there is any way around this in the current format. SA has the best of it th games from NZ and Aus being in reasonably watchable times. Different for Aus teams ion SA where we get the games in the early hours of the morning and the Kiwis receiving these game later than we do.

      There has been talk to take SA out of the equation but they do provide much of the subscription funds for pay tv. As well, the Kiwis insist (well most of them) that they must have SA teams in the competition. I think there will be changes for next season but politically, the Kings look safe and the CEO of the Cheetahs gas advised his team is safe as well. It wouldn’t surprise to see no teams dropped and the format changed to 3 x 6 team conferences instead of the dog’s breakfast we have now. Changes to numbers I don’t think will occur until the next broadcast agreement.

    • March 20th 2017 @ 2:13pm
      Bored said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

      Nope, just pull the pin. Get out of the whole rotten construct.

      We need our own national competition. We’ll just buy in the talent to top up like the French and English do.

      South Africa is a third world nation, heading to Rhodesia’s fate fast.

      NZ is in the relegation zone as a “First world state”. They are poor and small, they need us, not the other way around and don’t they know it hence the grand piano sized chip on all those bludgers shoulders.

      Build our own union competition and see those chumps only in the internationals.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 20th 2017 @ 2:58pm
        piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

        Who’s paying for all these bought in top ups?

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2017 @ 4:19pm
          Shane D said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

          Perhaps bored has a large cheque account.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 20th 2017 @ 2:14pm
      piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      Still don’t understand why Australia is expected to lose a team, but SA get an extra one.


      • March 20th 2017 @ 2:26pm
        no one in particular said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

        Available talent pool
        Subscription take up rate not as expected

        • Roar Rookie

          March 20th 2017 @ 2:44pm
          piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

          Maybe if it were a level playing field, how do you attract a new fan when the comp is rigged against your sides?

          – as it stands SA is guaranteed two finals spots a year, everyone else only one.

          How was this allowed?

          • Roar Guru

            March 20th 2017 @ 2:52pm
            biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

            Well, you see that is actually not correct.

            Africa 1 and Africa 2 are each guaranteed a spot.

            If both the Jaguares and Sunwolves win their conference then South Africa lose out.

            • Roar Rookie

              March 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm
              piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

              Technically – yes.

              How many games have the Jaguares and Sunwolves won since their inception?

              It was obviously the intention behind the setup

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 3:04pm
                biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                How many has the Rebels and Force won in thier first years?

                Where is the Jaguares currently lying in their conference?

              • Roar Rookie

                March 20th 2017 @ 3:08pm
                piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                Force and Rebels are irrelevant to this discussion.

                At the Force’s inception there was no conference system to give sides a leg up

                The current setup only guarantees the top NZ or Aus team a final, but it guarantees two to SA (provided the Jaguares and Sunwolves don’t top their conferences – which will not happen for many years, if at all).

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 3:12pm
                biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

                The Force and Rebels are relevant to the discussion, as to how they struggled in their first couple of seasons, any new Franchise faces the challenge of settling into a new competition, as for this season where is the Jaguares lyinh on the log?

                They have a real shot at winning their conference with three solid wins this season thus far.

                Will it be all forgiven then?

              • Roar Rookie

                March 20th 2017 @ 3:20pm
                piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                Yes, if the Jaguares win their conference, I’ll happily take it all back.

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 3:23pm
                biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

                Great, then we can conclude the system may be a farce because no team plays the same opponents, but we have to concede that SA is not Guaranteed 2 home finals.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 20th 2017 @ 3:32pm
                piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

                Again, technically I am obliged to say no.

                Be honest though, do you not think that this was intended to give SA audiences an extra team in the finals, at least for a few years while the two new kids found their feet?

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 4:28pm
                biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

                No to be honest I don’t, it is just something else the Australian media hyped up for the Aussie public to be unhappy about.

                In all honesty like I have been advocating for a number of years, it will be best for SARU to pull the plug on Super rugby.

                They need to first sort out our own unique issues and transform our game.

              • Roar Rookie

                March 20th 2017 @ 4:48pm
                piru said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

                When you say pull the plug, do you mean falling back to a national comp or joining another (ie NH)?

                EDIT** Disregard I just saw your subsequent post

              • March 20th 2017 @ 4:51pm
                Baylion said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                Last year most pundits expected the Jaguares to walk into the play-offs, even to contest the final, given that their squad was made up mostly of Pumas players. That they didn’t was due to a hectic travel schedule and the coaches rotating players extensively.

                This year they have a much more favourable travel schedule and I expect them to take one of the SA Group play-off spots, possibly even the top spot in the Africa2 conference.

                The Australasion group has 5 spots for 10 teams, the SA group has 3 for 8 teams. The only reason the Australian teams were virtually shut out was because they were poor last year and only the guaranteed conference top spot gave the Brumbies a home quarter final. This year things look to be going the sames way for them

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2017 @ 4:32pm
        Cadfael said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

        I had read that SA may lose two teams and us one.

        • Roar Guru

          March 20th 2017 @ 4:43pm
          biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          South Africa is in dire need for change.

          They are leaching talent everywhere, their best domestic coach is in talks with a European club, the quality is being dilluted on a daily basis.

          It will only get worse.

          SARU has to close up shop and start from scratch.

          They firstly need to protect the rugby intellect or what is left of it, then they need to disban the total current structure and begin again.

          They cannot get away from transformation, hence the only way to overcome the process is to embrace transformation and produce as many rugby academies as possible in high populated city centres.

          Then employ talent scouts to find every school boy of any colour who has the physical attributes and hunger to excell in rugby.

          Work with the existing rugby schools in SA to provide a pathway for all boys regardless of colour or back ground.

          They need to use the popularity of rugby in SA to aggressively hunt down sponsors and truly engage the SA public on a monetary drive to generate as much money as possible

          Then give the rugby to the people, whether you want to call them vlubs, franchises or provinces, build new teams and forget about what was the system under the “white regime” create a new one.

          Systemtically build more teams until you have however many teams that provide quality high performance rugby.

          It might take ten years or longer, but it will be worth it if they just apply themselves.

          Hell give me the job and I will fix it.

          The pathway to success is so clear, yet they are so busy with self interests that they can’t see past the coffee machine in the lobby

          • March 20th 2017 @ 5:07pm
            Baylion said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

            A major problem is that rugby at school is dying in most areas. Outside the Western Cape only about 3% of state schools play rugby or have rugby facilities. School sport and the provision of facilities, including rugby, is a state responsibility with the unions having very little say there.

            Youth rugby at clubs is virtually non-existent, an area where there should be scope for development for the unions.

            With rugby only shown on pay tv the sport is not taken to the people. A report last year indicated that rugby has a maximum viewership of about 600k on DSTv while the RWC 2011 test matches that were shown by the public broadcaster drew up to 3 million viewers per game. There must be an opportunity here to get rugby to a broader audience, even if it is the lesser games such as Currie Cup 1st Division, Provincial Cup and even school rugby games.

            Depending on the elite rugby schools is not the route to go as they can only produce a limited number. The youth player base must be expanded somehow

            • Roar Guru

              March 20th 2017 @ 5:18pm
              biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

              We can write off any involvementwith state in regards to sport development. They are too busy with their own agendas, and filling their pockets.

              If we want to develop rugby and save rugby for future generations it has to come from outside government.

              • March 20th 2017 @ 6:50pm
                Baylion said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

                I agree, which is why I don’t understand why most unions and rugby clubs don’t have a proper youth programme. Sports like cricket, hockey and football have, but not rugby. Rugby depends on schools.

                And why I mentioned the opportunity to get rugby on SABC. It won’t be a money spinner but some sort of deal should be possible to promote rugby to a wider audience.

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 6:59pm
                sheek said | March 20th 2017 @ 6:59pm | ! Report


                One thing that SA supporters don’t want, & this article might not appreciate, is having the SR teams play each other twice in their conference, then twice again in CC. And this doesn’t include how often they might meet in play-offs.

                It’s really not that much different in NZ. They obviously don’t want to see their regions play each other twice then provinces back up in NPC twice.

                Kiwis tell us that the Blues are not Auckland, the Chiefs are not Waikato (they’re Mooloo), the Crusaders are not Canterbury, the Hurricanes are not Wellington (they’re Lions) & the Highlanders are not Otago.

                But it’s not hard to see the similarities!

              • March 20th 2017 @ 7:27pm
                AndyS said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

                I would have said it was pretty easy to see the differences when both Wellington and Otago are playing in the Championship rather than the Premiership. They clearly aren’t just the SR teams, and I can quite understand why the NZR might want to keep it that way.

              • Roar Guru

                March 20th 2017 @ 7:55pm
                biltongbek said | March 20th 2017 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

                Yeah very true Sheek, rugby is getting really repetitive here in SA

      • March 20th 2017 @ 4:54pm
        Baylion said | March 20th 2017 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

        How does SA get a team, the talk is they will lose two

        • March 21st 2017 @ 5:49am
          wre01 said | March 21st 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

          Hi Baylion
          I just can’t see that happening- we’ve been through the Lions being pushed out, then the Kings coming in and then the Cheetahs being under threat.
          Even if a SA team or two is forced out it will only be 2-3 years before politics in SA has an Eastern Cape team back on the table.