SANZAAR United: everyone into the talent pool

AlBo Roar Guru

By AlBo, AlBo is a Roar Guru

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111 Have your say

    The time has come for Australia, South Africa and New Zealand rugby to start working together to make this great competition better for every single one of its Super members.

    There has been growing discontent among almost all three nations when it comes to Super Rugby and for almost entirely different (but not disconnected) reasons.

    There have been whispers, murmurs and rhubarbs around South African teams heading north in search of more profitable and practical pastures. There is no doubt that South African teams have logistical issues completely separate from Australian and New Zealand.

    The latter of these two is suffering (although you’d never know it from the results) from a large number of players moving outside of the Super system, from lower crowd and TV numbers and concerns about the lack of competition from their cousins across the pond.

    Australian rugby… well, we all know enough to be concerned.

    Glen Ella mentioned this week that a solution for Australian rugby, in particular, would be to encourage SANZAAR to allow players to travel freely between Super teams without putting their representative duties in doubt. The ability of teams to gather expertise from all over the Southern Hemisphere would lead to hopefully more depth and greater skill levels of all teams.

    Personally, I think this is the natural evolution of the competition that has to happen. However, in the interest of equitable focus it is important to look at the positives and negatives for all countries involved to see if it is a genuine solution for the competition as a whole or just a desperate, but understandable, move by Australian pundits to support our wonderful game against the tsunami of cross-competition that exists on our shores.

    Verdict: may hurt Wallabies but better for the game as a whole.

    The negatives for Australia include (to name a few): lack of ability for Australian players to experience top line competition as competition for spaces increases, increase in foreign players similarly would potentially mean more players leaving Australia as they fail to unseat the international contingent vying for their positions and further disconnect between positions with less combinations establishing during the year reducing the cohesiveness of the international team.

    The positives, however, are mostly around the game as a whole, looking at getting people back into the game and removing the focus from the international team. Granted, aside from the Socceroos, the Wallabies are still the most popular Australian rep football team in the country and need to be strong, but we cannot solely rely on it anymore.

    Michael Hooper

    (AAP Image/Jeremy Ng)

    If an increase in popularity of regional rugby came at the temporary expense of our world position, it could still be a net gain. That being said, young Australian players would be free to sign for New Zealand and South African teams (and you would have to factor in Argentinian and Japanese rules as well) without worrying about representation restrictions.

    This could increase their skill levels, learn new styles of rugby and generally increase Australia’s base skill level as a whole.

    New Zealand
    Verdict: could decrease European exodus and allow talent to be somewhat localised, however at the expense of a centralised coaching setup.

    The negatives for New Zealand are simple: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. New Zealand rugby does not need to do this per se as they are doing a pretty decent job of retaining good talent and oiling the conveyor belt of All Blacks that seem to grow from an orchard somewhere in Taranaki.

    Having Kiwi players in South Africa and Australia may mean losing frontline All Blacks to Australian teams and I do not know how easy it would be watching Beauden Barrett suit up for the ‘Tahs.

    The positives, however, lie in the fact that their players would at least be ‘around’. They can easily track their development, bring them back for international windows, and so on. In addition, young players who might be tempted to go to Europe would at least stay in the competition because they could potentially still catch the eye of international selectors.

    Beauden Barrett

    (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

    Also, strong Australian rugby does help New Zealand. The growth of rugby in both countries is important and taking an isolationist view (as other codes have done) is problematic in my opinion. We should always be looking at working together in all facets of life, not just sport.

    We are too close and too alike not to.

    South Africa
    Verdict: supporter interest in South African players on the field for Australian and New Zealand teams and decreased exodus.

    I cannot sit here and pretend to know what is best for South African rugby. There are commentators who know far more about the intricacies and issues than me and I encourage them for their thoughts on this matter.

    The negatives, as I see them, is that a focus on this is probably not really a priority for South African rugby right now. I could be wrong, but as much as this is trying to justify an Aus-centric problem it could be seen as just that – an Australian solution to a uniquely Australian problem.

    But I do see positives in the form of increased interest in non-South African matches. Following potential future-Boks in other conferences is as good a reason to watch a neutral game as any.

    I am much more inclined to watch a European based game if there are Australians playing, in fact sometimes I prefer it to local teams. I get to see how their game adapts to a new team and new style and not worry about the result.

    It is an enjoyable way to watch rugby. This could be a very long bow that I am drawing, however, I believe it has some merit. Whether it has enough merit to warrant change, who knows?

    As a rugby tragic and someone who desperately wants rugby to remain in the forefront of our culture and not disappear into the wilderness this option of inter competition player movement makes sense. It is mostly driven by issues unique to Australian rugby, but there can be benefits to all if done right.

    I do, however, think that it is important for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to work together to challenge the money and pulling power of the north and in turn be able to assist the likes of the Pacific Islands, Argentina et al in the process.

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    The Crowd Says (111)

    • Roar Guru

      May 11th 2018 @ 2:53am
      Derm McCrum said | May 11th 2018 @ 2:53am | ! Report

      Australia and New Zealand should just combine as one international team – Australasia. One union, 8/9 Super Rugby teams. Better pathways. Run their own domestic league. Combined TV deal. One big happy warring family.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 5:26am
        mania said | May 11th 2018 @ 5:26am | ! Report

        tbh a comp with only aus and nz is not a very inciting prospect. marketablity would be really difficult
        saffa’s keep nz honest and the history of rivalry is what makes both nations great rugby players.
        nz used to have this rivalry with aus and at its height it equaled and often surpassed the emotion of the saffa vs kiwi rugby wars.
        with the decline of aus rugby the saffa’s , sunwolves and jaguares are the only ones beating nz teams.
        love this solution but i feel it would predominantly serve NZ. we have surplus of players and this would just mean that they would stay in sanzaar instead of heading overseas. awesome for NZ but i cant see what aus would get out of it. also i dont see alot of aussies getting signed up in nz ro SA. maybe in ITM but i doubt the CC.
        would aus enjoy seeing their teams peopled with a majority of kiwi? this would also hamper wallabies development, with kiwi’s filling key roles.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 7:13am
        richard said | May 11th 2018 @ 7:13am | ! Report

        D.McC,so we disband the AB’s? Just scrap 115 years of history? Yeah,that’ll fly in NZ.

        • May 11th 2018 @ 3:44pm
          woodart said | May 11th 2018 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

          ‘tell “m he’s dreaming”

        • Roar Guru

          May 11th 2018 @ 6:19pm
          Derm McCrum said | May 11th 2018 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

          Ok – keep the Australia & New Zealand test teams, they do ok. Combine everything else. Save money, reduce bureaucracy, keep your players, and play SA as often as you like. Put the NZRU in charge though, ditch all the others.

          • May 12th 2018 @ 8:23am
            richard said | May 12th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

            Nice in theory,but you may have trouble convincing the Aussies to come under NZ authority ( and understandably so).

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 8:50am
        rebel said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        Nah, unlike the teams that make up the Lions, NZ and Aus are seperate countries.

        • May 11th 2018 @ 9:01am
          richard said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          Exactly.An “australasian” team? Laughable.

          • Roar Guru

            May 11th 2018 @ 1:43pm
            rebel said | May 11th 2018 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

            Not the angle I was taking, was just trying to make a light hearted jibe about the homeland of our firend Poth, following his lead.

            • May 11th 2018 @ 1:44pm
              richard said | May 11th 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report


      • Roar Rookie

        May 11th 2018 @ 10:13am
        ChrisG said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        Hi Poth. So the 2 finalists from the last WC should combine. Might work better if you were talking about Ireland & Scotland

        • May 11th 2018 @ 11:16am
          Jacko said | May 11th 2018 @ 11:16am | ! Report

          Haha why stop at Ireland and Scotland…Just make it the Lions….lets face it that is the only way they can hope to compete isnt it?

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 11:22am
        Nobrain said | May 11th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        I wonder how long it will take for most of teams to have 90 % of NZ players. I do not see the point if Australia not developing players because they will use kiwis or PI instead.. SR is the root from where the national teams feed and if you take away that you will get a stronger ABs and a weaker Wallabies. Developing coaches abroad instead of players plus training techniques will be more effective imo. SR franchises have not really develop a cult of fans yet and it will take time, in the mean time they enjoy having teams where at least 90 % of the players are from their nations and hometowns.

        • May 11th 2018 @ 4:39pm
          Republican said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

          …..the NRL already has over 30% Kiwi/PI player content and this in a code that is barley niche in NZ and PI nations.
          I am informed by some who support the code in Sydney that this has been insidious in being one of the causes for a dramatic drop in GR interest in the code there, as NRL clubs source players from across the ditch et el.
          Union is already a virtual non entity here at the GR, while this will simply ensure its absolute demise in this country.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 4:25pm
        Republican said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

        ……to flood the Australian entities with imports won’t help the code here one iota, in fact it will simply create an even greater illusion than already exists, in respect of the codes status in Australia. This is only of benefit to the product i.e. the television owned Super Rugby brand.
        If you take the English Soccer League as an analogy, the clubs are saturated with overseas players, its like spot the Scot for Celtic, so the national cause of England and Scotland in that code, hasn’t benefited if you consider respective World Cup campaigns over recent decades.
        Not that it will make a diff to Australia’s pedigree in Union, considered by Australians as one of the most boring sports on offer in a very recent national survey……….

        • Roar Guru

          May 11th 2018 @ 4:43pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          The old misguided English Premier League analogy. Yawn…

          Have you ever bother to look how England performed in the World Cups and European Championships before and after they opened up their league for foreign players?

          After WW2 England has a much better winning ratio after they opened their league in the mid-90’s than they had before. England even missed qualifying for the World Cups in 1974 and 1978.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 4:30pm
        Republican said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

        ……I really can’t see Kiwis taking to that concept, and neither should they.
        They are proud of their Union heritage and pedigree justifiably.
        That said, we continue to foster codes they are not particularly strong in, by affording them membership of our domestic leagues often at the expedience of our own but then we are far less nationalistic and it seems, more impressionable to the commercialisation of sport I reckon……..

    • Roar Rookie

      May 11th 2018 @ 3:37am
      Prof_Kaos said | May 11th 2018 @ 3:37am | ! Report

      I have always thought all players in Super Rugby should be eligible for their national team. Far better for RNZ to pick players from the Reds or Stormers than Cardiff.
      The problem I see is that to keep SAF from leaving Aus/NZ have allowed SAF demands to ruin a good competition and now they are taking their ball and going anyway.
      A month ago the SARU CEO and Bokke coach joined the Pro 14 governing body. This clearly demonstrates their intentions. Time for us to get real and do what is best for Oceania, stop kowtowing to SAF, grow a pair and let SAF know they need us too. SAF is driving this division, we can’t make them stay. There are plenty of other countries who would leap at the opportunity.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 8:34am
        Clyde said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        It was O’Niel who ruined Super rugby by insisting on introducing the three conference system with ‘derby’s

        • Roar Rookie

          May 11th 2018 @ 10:06am
          Prof_Kaos said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          Super Rugby has always had conferences. Playing every other team stopped after 2014. The emphasis of local derbies started in 2015 (18 team expansion), O’Neill went in 2003, that’s 12 yrs earlier.
          Right now a team plays 8 games v its own conference teams and 3 v each of the other 2 Conferences, 14 total. I suggest we are “playing with ourselves” now. This change was made to reduce travel for the SAF teams (a fair concern). They also scrapped the 4 try Bonus Point system which also helped SAF who statistically score less tries.

          • May 11th 2018 @ 10:59am
            Silent1 said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:59am | ! Report

            You forget O’Neill had a second coming and played a big roll in the change to conferences and double rounds to make up for no “NPC”. Sa also wanted guarenteed home finals spots for S14 but it wasn’t feasible at the time.

          • May 11th 2018 @ 12:41pm
            Pinetree said | May 11th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

            Although your point on O’Neill leaving in 2003 is correct, the emphasis on local derbies started in 2011, with Super 15, as 8 games (50% of all games played) were local derbies), and they played 4 out of 5 teams of the other 2 conferences once (just like the system this year). S18 had 6 local derby games (40% of all games played), so there was actually less local derby games, and 9 games were played vs overseas opponents.

            • May 11th 2018 @ 12:48pm
              Pinetree said | May 11th 2018 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

              I just checked on John O’Neill, and while he left in 2003, he was reinstated from 2007-2013, so almost all you wrote was factually incorrect. Sorry Silent1, I see you already wrote that too!

          • May 11th 2018 @ 4:18pm
            Mark said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            So it hasn’t always had conferences then!

          • May 11th 2018 @ 4:19pm
            Mark said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

            4 try bonus was only scrapped very recently (2016 or 2017)

            • May 11th 2018 @ 4:20pm
              Mark said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

              And was actually changed to +3 more tries – which actually hurts Japanese teams even more (if what you say is correct about them being poor at scoring tries)

    • May 11th 2018 @ 5:04am
      Intotouch said | May 11th 2018 @ 5:04am | ! Report

      Ok but…if all of the players are mixed up how are they going to retain the loyalty of the fans? How happy would Australian fans be paying to see “their” teams if there are only two Australians playing? How would South African fans feel about their “local” super rugby team full of Kiwis?

      • May 11th 2018 @ 5:28am
        Slane said | May 11th 2018 @ 5:28am | ! Report

        They would probably feel the same about their team as any AFL, NRL, NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA or Premier League fan feels. A semi-international competition between provincial rep teams clearly isn’t working. Time to turn those provincial teams into genuine franchises.

        • May 11th 2018 @ 10:47am
          concerned supporter said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Don’t you mean turn the existing franchise teams into genuine provincial teams?

    • May 11th 2018 @ 5:59am
      P2R2 said | May 11th 2018 @ 5:59am | ! Report

      I dont think the fans of Real Madrid or any of the top-flight EPL and European Teams worry about that….but thats soccer and it does work

      • May 11th 2018 @ 11:59am
        Jacko said | May 11th 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        AFL selects very few from OS…Its kinda funny that a Kiwi is the best player tho….LOL

    • May 11th 2018 @ 8:14am
      Old Bugger said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      There really is nothing to stop NZ rugby players from playing for another SANZAAR conference except, the fact that they want to pursue their own personal goals first. Like England, NZRU have a rule that says, if you want to play for the ABs then, you must play for an NZ franchise.

      If every player didn’t have a personal goal to play for the ABs, then I’d bet the house that those players would be gone. Thing is, players are leaving now and giving up on their personal goals; players are leaving after a handful of games in the black jersey; players are leaving to increase their Super account while others, are leaving while their legs afford them the chance, to play elsewhere.

      The biggest problem is that if there’s no money in SANZAAR to retain them, why do you think they’d go for an internal change of franchise (country to country) instead of a hemisphere change, where there’s definitely more money???

      The choice to change, as it should be, will always be a personal choice and not, a board choice. If players want to go, they’ll go and if they want to stay then, they’ll stay……..simples really.

    • May 11th 2018 @ 8:27am
      Silent1 said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      This is something I have thought about immensely and believe if done right it could work great. The competition needs to become one united comp not a 3 way split.

      To allay everyones fears you would have to cap the international eligible players depending on the strength of each nation. I would also cap the amount of Tier 1 players also so Tier 2 or lower nations (such as P.I in Nz and Oz, Kenya or Namibia in Sa, North and South American in Arg and Asia in Jap) can get contracts and further thir development.

      Note the second cap is only the maximum amount of T1 players each side can sign, meaning if they want all spots can be taken by T2- players.

      So with that in mind I would have a cap of about 8 overall Int eligible players in each Oz side with a cap of say upto 4-5 for T1.

      Nz, Sa and Arg/Jags you would probably cap them all at 6 spots with a cap of 3-4 for T1.

      While Japan has had a few good wins in the past few years they are still a T2 side therefore are still developing so I would give the SunWolves the most spots and that would be 10 with a max of 5 or 6 for T1.

      I believe this would be for the betterment of the comp and would also help the development of its players by learning different styles and possibly by learning from better players. The notion that having ABs in Oz SR sides would stunt players development isnt entirely correct as I think up and coming players learning their position from the best player in the world is alot better for their development then learning from the best in their state, you could also cap contracts at upto 5 years so they are not holding back local talent for too long.

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 8:37am
        Dogs Of War said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        With a cap in place. It can only help the other franchises. And the SANZAAR nations producing the best talent get more opportunity to get their fringe players higher level playing time while making the competition overall stronger.

        I can’t see how this is a bad thing for all involved.

        • May 12th 2018 @ 6:01pm
          Silent1 said | May 12th 2018 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

          Yes bro its a win win both ways and by capping the amount clubs can sign it would prevent sides from becoming flooded with foreigners.

          Alot of the commenters on here are against such a thing and think it would hurt the national sides. But if done right it can only help everyone involved by players learning other nations styles, training and coaching regimes etc.

          The biggest concern seems to be the loss of ABs from NZs shores. But I honestly can’t see a host of top line ABs leaving to play in Oz unless they get a offer too good to pass up. More than likely it would mostly be fringe ABs or mid tier SR players (guys who are leaving at quite a big rate atm) and its alot better to have them still eligible for their national side than being loat forever. Also with the original SANZAAR Unions (unsure if Arg do this) all having some form of a top up or dual contract system they would still have the ability to sign the top 30-50 players out right, therefore keeping a big base of the best players at home.

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