And so in Australia the twin power-drunk dogs (ARU and SANZAAR) are being dragged along, bumping up and down behind an old ute looking to replace its drive train with something better.
The problem is that the driver doesn’t realise it is not the drive train, but the drunken dogs that are holding the ute back.
Loaded with men of business success and corporate ambition, SANZAAR was always about creating itself to be the Southern Hemisphere Master of Rugby, spreading the rugby gospel far and wide bringing in Argentina and Japan.
Assuaging their egos, the suites – with their secrecy and sense of entitlement – created the cognitively challenging and unwieldy Super 18.
SANZAAR proceeded with indecent haste and, it would appear knowingly built their strategy on a house-of-cards. Only New Zealand – from the very outset – were able display the very sound rugby infrastructure (that underpins the World Champions). Australia and South Africa not so much.
The house of cards is now unravelling into a legal and financial mess.
In the scramble to plug the holes of poor infrastructure, the ARU proceeded with the soft option of a ‘top down’ growth strategy wasting millions on rugby league recruits. They ignored the grass roots of the game in the process – which is at the core of today’s open dissent of the Rugby Clubs of Australia.
This dissent was exacerbated by Bill Pulver’s ‘clubs pissing funds up against the wall‘ throwaway line – a galling display of corporate elitism by Pulver.
It is time to take a deep breath, cut the ARU and SANZAAR adrift and allow each region to form its own competition by dividing into the Pacific and Atlantic Super Competitions.
Pacific Super Rugby could incorporate all current Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby sides plus Japan and a Pacific Island Side – a Super 12 where each side would play each other twice (home and away). With a traditional final four leading to a grand final and if that happens to be an all New Zealand show – then so be it.
The competition would benefit by not having to travel to South Africa and Argentina. Each team would have greater revenue from a guaranteed increased of home matches, providing supporters with regular product and creating the desired tribal culture in the process.
As a matter of priority the ARU is replaced by the Australian Rugby Commission (ARC). The ARC ceases the grants system. Funds are only received by team success leaving market forces to determine the financial viability of each Super Rugby franchise
The ARC’s mandate must be to promote a grass roots sustainable rugby program, to ensure Super Rugby franchises only receive team win bonuses from the ARC, to adopt a central player contracting system, develop a player draft system, build public accountability, establish business transparency and see that SANZAAR is consigned to history.