Size does matter for Super Rugby

marty beauchamp Roar Rookie

By marty beauchamp, marty beauchamp is a Roar Rookie

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16 Have your say

    I came to Australia in 1996. By the time Rod MacQueen had led the Wallabies to a second World Cup I was almost ready to head back to New Zealand I spent that much time hearing how ‘those All Blacks used to be good didn’t they?’

    Anyone with a passing interest in rugby was prepared to debate the strengths of the Brumbies over the Crusaders.

    The Queensland Reds had been a large part of the beginnings of the Super Rugby concept, the Brumbies had come from nowhere to frighten any Kiwi and looked as if their programs were strong enough that they would into perpetuity.

    The Waratahs always lurked from the base of union strength that was New South Wales.

    In only twenty years we’ve reached this point.

    The expansion of Super Rugby has obviously got a great deal to do with money, it is ingenuous to think otherwise. But then what in world sport hasn’t these days?

    Israel Folau Waratahs Super Rugby Union 2017

    And a sport that stagnates will eventually die.

    The NRL is used as an example of sport in Australia with a very strong club base, very well matched teams making up nearly all of the games that constitute each round.

    But when it comes to trying to develop that game in any new direction the mismatches that ensue are eye-wateringly one sided.

    This is a sport where the World Cup will be a competition to see who gets to play Australia, as always. Hopefully Ian Rubin is available to captain Russia again because he is the only footballer who can spell Vladivostok.

    Super Rugby has taken their competition across the Southern Hemisphere and the competition has suffered, this weekend’s matches are a series of foregone conclusions.

    But the lack of classic contests this year probably has as much to do with the dearth of quality in Australian rugby union at the moment as anything else.

    Australian teams are not competitive with their New Zealand counterparts, or are sporadically, and the competitiveness is diminishing.

    Australian rugby union struggled in the late ’90s with all the things it faces now, chiefly the fact that it is a lesser sport in a market place that is dominated in turn by rugby league and AFL, and exists in a country that is extremely strong in sports that traditionally exist in other seasons, cricket predominantly.

    The one thing that it probably didn’t contend with to the same extent back then is the explosion of interest in soccer.

    Is it the fact that a lot of the talent that could have been available to the Australian Super Rugby teams is lost to dreams of being the new Berat Berisha, in the same way union lost Wally Lewis, or perhaps a Gary Ablett?

    The All Blacks remain the pinnacle for so much of the young sporting talent of New Zealand, and the Super franchises the stairway there.

    I don’t know anything of the quality of the coaching of Australian rugby union at lower levels, which seems to be being blamed for some of the lack of quality of the current crop of players.

    But maybe it is more to do with simply who is available to them.

    Getting rid of Australian franchises will mean that even less potential talent is available in the Australian system, young players may well drift back into rugby league, or more likely follow their dreams overseas.

    Expansion is a difficult process and will take time, lessening Australia’s part in the Super Rugby system seems like the first step towards a future where the remaining franchises become the new Jaguares, while most young Aussies play for Japanese teams or are on the Roosters roster.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 6:23am
      Ruckin' Oaf said | April 22nd 2017 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      What was the playing pool in the mid 90’s and how does that compare to now ?

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 7:32am
      Carlos the Argie said | April 22nd 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

      Hi Marty!

      Please, don’t take this poorly, I am trying to be helpful. I just didn’t understand the message you were trying to bring across. The title confused me as the content didn’t seem to relate to it.
      Would you care to clarify your point(s)?

      • April 22nd 2017 @ 10:00am
        Old Bugger said | April 22nd 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

        That goes for me too Carlos and I think, I finally understood it all, in his penultimate paragraph……least I think I did – the size, is to remain, at 5 franchises perhaps…..??

      • Roar Rookie

        April 22nd 2017 @ 12:20pm
        marty beauchamp said | April 22nd 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

        Thanks Carlos, a bit of a mish mash , the over arching point was that the global reach of union keeps the game relevant here against so much competition. If we begin to shrink the number of Australian teams in the comp we might get some short term competitiveness, but it will be jaguare like in Thatcher teams will be largely the current wallabies spread across 2 or 3 teams, and they will be closed shops. Young men will go elsewhere . And we will never expand back to what we have now. Australia will always have great union talent coming through, but that needs to continue to grow in size and contracting the number of super rugby teams isn’t going to do that.

        • April 23rd 2017 @ 12:53am
          Damo said | April 23rd 2017 @ 12:53am | ! Report

          Global Reach, you must be having a laugh? Soccer is the only real world sport.

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am
      jeff dustby said | April 22nd 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      wally lewis played league from the age of 5 just like his Dad

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 9:45am
      stainlesssteve said | April 22nd 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

      stagnation is disaster. Retreat can be advantageous.
      the ARU has amply and clearly demonstrated a universal human truth:
      we are much happier expanding than contracting, and much better at it
      we are like a truck with 48 forward gears, no reverse and inadequate brakes.

      a man comes to a river.
      he has a goat, a cabbage and a wolf.
      there’s a little boat he can use, to cross, but it can carry only him and one of the others, at a time.
      he cannot leave the cabbage and the goat together, unattended, nor the goat and the wolf.
      how does he get them all safely to the other side?

      • April 22nd 2017 @ 12:04pm
        Baz said | April 22nd 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

        take the sheep first. Go back get the cabbage, take it across. Collect the sheep. take it back to the orignal side. Take the wolf over. Go back and get the sheep.

        Not sure if you were serious but anyway.

        The ARU is at the helm of a sinking ship without any idea of how to fix things.

        If I came to a river with a wolf, a cabbage and the ARU board, I think I would take the cabbage over first and see how things worked out.

        • April 22nd 2017 @ 12:18pm
          Old Bugger said | April 22nd 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report


          That’s funny but, do you really believe the wolf would survive if left alone, with the Board…???

          • April 22nd 2017 @ 12:35pm
            stainlesssteve said | April 22nd 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

            i was actually trying to be serious, for once
            awesome answers, OB and Baz

            i guess there are two rugbies….one that’s played for fun and fitness and social satisfaction, and one that’s played for money, and is mass entertainment, and it’s a bit of a tall order to ask one group of executive/accountants, to look after both fairly, even when one is the talent pool for the other.

            i’d be quite happy to see the thing go back to the way things were in the fifties, when a world famous player used to train up the steep paddocks in his gumboots. i’m still trying to be serious, honest!

          • April 22nd 2017 @ 12:48pm
            AndyS said | April 22nd 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

            They’d neuter the wolf and put the cabbage in charge.

            • April 22nd 2017 @ 1:47pm
              Fin said | April 22nd 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

              Comment of the day. Funny and unfortunately quite possible.

            • April 22nd 2017 @ 1:59pm
              Old Bugger said | April 22nd 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

              Haha Andy….but at least, the wolf gets to live!!

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 11:43am
      BeastieBoy said | April 22nd 2017 @ 11:43am | ! Report

      The title did not relate to the content. Maybe a Rugby style clickbait as we are so over this topic. Anyway to restate what has been said before. The only team that should get the chop is Team ARU. Hold the line. Lets get new management straight away. Start fixing the grassroots so that in a few years our depth improves and we have more talent to pick from. Reintroduce Rugby into the private schools where it is dying and bring it into the public schools and promote the CHS competition which used to be strong.

    • April 22nd 2017 @ 11:56am
      Baz said | April 22nd 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report


      think this article is the most accurate I have read over the last few weeks.

      The lack of player quality is a reflection of long term grass roots development (determined by the ARU), strategic player recruitment, determined by coaches and the ARU, tactical player training and preparation which is a coaching responsibility.

      There is no one panacea. The issue of available player quality is a multi faceted problem. Ultimately though, the ARU is responsible for the state of Australian rugby.But I don’t think they have the imagination and capacity to change things.

      So ladies and gentlemen of the ARU Board, what is the plan? What are you going to do to fix things?

      • Roar Rookie

        April 23rd 2017 @ 8:04pm
        marty beauchamp said | April 23rd 2017 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

        thanks Baz,
        looking at the Waratahs the only thing I can think of is Israel Folau in a Rooster’s jumper, and the equivalent of a new Israel, if he ever came along, not seeing the Waratahs, or whichever of the franchises still exists by then, as a viable option for his unfolding career.

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