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SANZAR was born in 1996 when rugby turned pro. It’s goal was to provide a provincial Super Rugby tournament with teams from South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.
SANZAAR was born in 2012 when the Jaguares from Argentina and the Sunwolves from Japan were added to Super Rugby.
It is one of the many major blunders made by the governing body through sheer greed that has had serious rugby ramifications throughout the southern hemisphere.
One of the banes of professional rugby is the excessive travel, and SANZAR added to the problem by expanding to countries that were far apart and removed from the axis.
The Heineken Trophy, basically the northern hemisphere equivalent to Super Rugby, has minimal travel – one of the longest flights being Dublin to Rome taking three hours ten minutes.
In Super Rugby, Auckland to Bloemfontein was a 21 hour 20 minute flight. To put that in perspective, Sydney to London is 21 hours 45 minutes.
And there were many other long flying hours just between South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Adding Japan and Argentina dramatically increased the travel burden on players.
Cape Town to Tokyo is 19 hours 45 minutes, Cape Town to Buenos Aires 18 hours 35 – and those times are just one way.
It’s too late to make any changes for 2018, the Jaguares and Sunwolves are locked in, and Australia has lost the Western Force thanks to an inept Rugby Australia.
By all means expand Super Rugby, but in the acceptable regions to minimise air travel.
Looking to 2019, the first thing Australia and New Zealand should do is flick South Africa, the country that keeps moving the Super Rugby goal posts, and bring in the three Pacific Islands countries as national teams.
There would be enough time to resurrect the Western Force, taking the Australian contingent back to five where it should be to join the already well-entrenched Kiwi five.
The third group will be Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.
Super Rugby 2019 would look like this.
The Australian five play each other home and away – eight games.
Then they play the eight teams in the other two groups – home one year, away the next – eight games.
A totally fair 16 games.
The New Zealand five to do exactly the same for 16 games.
The Pacific Islanders play each other three times – two at home one year, two away the next – six games per team per season.
Then they play the five Australian and five Kiwi sides – split home one year, away the next – 10 games each.
That gives the Pacific Islanders 16 games in a season as well.
And everyone has played everyone.
At the completion off the round-robin, the top four on points overall qualify for the semis, with the senior team having the home ground advantage.
The winners play off for the decider, at the senior team’s home ground.
World Rugby to sponsor the Islanders in a tournament that will do more for them on the rugby stage than spasmodic end-of-year trips to the northern hemisphere.
What will South Africa do?
They keep threatening to play in the northern hemisphere, so here’s their chance.
Cape Town to London is 11 hours 55, to Rome 13 hours 50 – less time than many of their Super Rugby travel responsibilities over the years.
What about Japan and Argentina?
They can play against the likes of USA and Canada, where they can compete on more of a level playing field.
Which brings me to the Rugby Championship.
By all means include South Africa, but flick Argentina.
The Pumas are as big a blight on the Rugby Championship as Italy is to the Six Nations.
The proof is in their track records.
The Pumas have played 33 Rugby Championship games – won three, lost 29, drawn one.
Points for – 576
Against – 1096.
Deficit – 520.
Italy’s Six-Nations stats are a embarrassment since they were admitted in 2000.
Played 90 – won 12, lost 77, drawn one.
Points for – 1289.
Against – 2993.
Deficit – 1704.
Italy has finished last in 12 of their 18 seasons, finished second last four times, and third last twice.
So there must be a change in rugby governance.
It’s high time Australia and New Zealand rugby combined to work on the KISS formula.
Keep it simple stupid.
And the code will prosper, not die on the vine.