Here’s how to fix Super Rugby

Joe King Roar Rookie

By Joe King, Joe King is a Roar Rookie


49 Have your say

    Geoff Parkes has written a well-reasoned article to stick with Super Rugby.

    However, while there is a financial cost to pulling out of Super Rugby (which has several implications), even if (best-case-scenario) Australia’s Super Rugby teams became more competitive and won more often, it just seems that Super Rugby can’t compete with the other codes in Australia.

    Even winning Super Rugby in 2011 and 2014 hasn’t helped.

    Perhaps many Australian rugby fans are a little deluded in wanting to go it alone, but they look at what the AFL and NRL has, and they see how rugby is simply fading within their culture. They are desperate. All they know is that it can’t go on the same way it is going, otherwise they are doomed anyway.

    However, here is another way.

    What if the number of weeks it takes to play Super Rugby (21-22 weeks), was divided into two shorter competitions, which essentially separated the local derbies from the international component of the current Super Rugby model.

    So the first competition would be mainly domestic, based around the teams from the current conferences in Super Rugby.

    So in Australia, the teams would be their four Super Rugby teams plus the Force and the Sunwolves = six teams.

    In NZ, it would be their five SR teams plus Fiji (or a combined PI team) = six teams.

    In SA it would their four SR teams plus the Jaguares and one other team = six teams.

    Each team plays the other teams home and away and then a semi-final (second v third; first has bye) + a final = 12 weeks.

    Israel Folau celebrates

    The Waratahs.(Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    The second competition would be 16 teams divided into four pools of four teams each. The pools would be deliberately mixed.

    Pool 1: SA 1, New Zealand 1, Oz 1, Jaguares
    Pool 2: SA 2, New Zealand 2, Oz 2, Fiji (or a combined PI team)
    Pool 3: SA 3, New Zealand 3, Oz 3, other team from SA conference (US?)
    Pool 4: SA 4, New Zealand 4, New Zealand 5, Sunwolves

    For this second competition, Australia would only enter three teams so that there are only 16 teams in total.

    Australia’s three teams would be ‘state of origin’ style teams involving NSW, Queensland and a Combined States team.

    Each team plays everyone in their own pool home and away = six weeks. The top two teams from each pool then progress to (cross pool) quarter finals, then semi-finals, then the final = nine weeks.

    The competition structure is a lot easier to follow and should involve minimal complaints.

    David Pocock

    David Pocock (AAP Image/Rohan Thomson)

    In the first competition, the amount of local derbies is only slightly more than what we currently have in SR anyway, except they becomes their own competition, which suits Australia because they can have their five teams and don’t need to worry about lack of depth. It even becomes a pseudo national domestic comp, that might have the ability to compete with the AFL and NRL.

    In the second competition, there may be a couple of local derbies, but for many teams, there may be none. But importantly, each team gets at least 4-6 international fixtures, which suits NZ. Further, assuming the New Zealand teams are good enough, it’s possible for all New Zealand teams to make it through to the quarter finals.

    And with Australia only entering three teams, they also become more competitive. And because they are state of origin style teams, it breathes new interest and passion into the international component of SR.

    No doubt the first competition would lose some revenue, but not by much, and travel costs would be slashed.

    It’s not a perfect model, but it might be a good compromise between Australia going it alone and the current Super Rugby model.

    New South Wales have won the 2018 State of Origin series with an 18-14 win in an absolutely outstanding Game 2 at ANZ Stadium. See how the action unfolded with our NSW vs QLD Origin 2 scores, highlights and blog.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (49)

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 7:10am
      mad mick said | May 22nd 2018 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      The problem is the Local teams are no good and nobody wants to watch the Local derby. They have lost their appeal.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:38am
        Joe King said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:38am | ! Report

        Or it could be that there is a difference between a local derby within an international competition, and a local derby within a local competition. For this fan, at least.

        • May 22nd 2018 @ 6:43pm
          Hazzmat said | May 22nd 2018 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

          I tend to agree with mad mick. Unless the team I support is playing, I will generally not bother with the local derbies though I definitely do my best to watch the NZ derbies.

          Arguably the NZ teams will only keep improving in the current format. You play better teams you have no choice but to improve.

          Reverting back to a round robin competition is the only way for the competition to regain some credibility as the current format only rewards mediocrity.

          One other point that no one seems to talk much about, the high cost of going to super rugby game. A platinum ticket to a NSW Waratahs game will set you back $80 give or take (including b/f). Couple that with a lacklustre performance and it’s no wonder crowd numbers are down.

          • May 23rd 2018 @ 1:36pm
            Joe King said | May 23rd 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

            The stats (on average, and definitely in the past) suggest that local derbies are the most watched games, though.

            With the sort of model I suggest, you would still be able to enjoy many NZ derbies, plus have the international component as well – with more competitive Australian teams!

            I agree that the round robin format has more credibility than the current model, but it still suffers from being less fair for the SA teams who have to travel further. My model tries to rectify this problem.

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:41am
      Joe King said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      2014, not 2015.

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 8:43am
      Joe King said | May 22nd 2018 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      Sorry about the title everyone. I hope the article doesn’t come across as arrogantly as the title suggests. The key idea is to seperate the local derbies from the international component.

    • Roar Guru

      May 22nd 2018 @ 10:29am
      PeterK said | May 22nd 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      I actually like it because of the state of origin concept.

      This means the teams in the second comp are quite different to the first ones so adds a extra level of variety.

      The first comp conceivably could be on fta.

      There is less travel, and less cost.

      I assume that SA would be playing currie cup and NZ Mitre10 whilst the first comp is on.
      They at least would have their higher level players involved during this time.

      This proposal clearly could help australia but does it do much for nz and sa, would they support it?

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:18pm
        Joe King said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

        Thanks Peter.

        It would be up to NZ and SA what they want to do – revert to their traditional provincial comps or use their SR teams. In the past NZ has wanted to only play their NPC in the later half of the year during the test season.

        I actually think the local derbies would be appreciated in both NZ and SA, but it wouldn’t be their preferred model, and it isn’t the same as the original purpose for SR. So they may not go for it. It was more an attempt at a compromise.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:19pm
        Joe King said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

        BTW, I saw your idea in the comments of another article. It wasn’t too bad either!

        • May 23rd 2018 @ 5:28pm
          James said | May 23rd 2018 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

          I’m not sure if the Competition 1 has any merit.

          SA currently has the Currie Cup and NZ the NPC which provide a local competition with enough local derbies and has a winner. Australia now has the NRC.

          It seems that the idea of Competition 1 is much of the same so where’s the interest.

          Perhaps the Super Rugby teams plus the Force should have their competition after Super Rugby and a trophy awarded to the winner each year. At least that would give the players something to aspire and a genuine chance of winning.

          • May 24th 2018 @ 3:45pm
            Joe King said | May 24th 2018 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

            Yeah, that will probably be the strongest criticism from NZ and SA.

            There is less of a connection between SR and the NRC in Oz.

            My response would be that ATM, they already have this amount of local derbies in the current SR model. I’m just wanting to seperate them out into their own competition.

            I’m also wondering if the NZRU would be drawn to it *if* competition 1 was going to be popular – with all their best players playing in it.

            But you’re right, my model is not perfect. Cheers, James.

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 10:51am
      Working Class Rugger said | May 22nd 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      Here’s my idea on fixing SR.

      Assuming SA stays. Have the NZ and SA conferences (including the Jaguares) form one division of 10 teams. From there we take our 5 plus the Sunwolves and the Drua. Add in a team from Hong Kong, Singapore and a third location and form another division. Play within your division home and away for 18 rounds. From there, top 4 from each progresses to the finals. All up 22 weeks.

      Part of this would involve RA looking to mend the bridges it burned in the Force saga with Forrest to get everyone onside.

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 11:14am
        Old Bugger said | May 22nd 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Nah – I think your idea and JK’s article place too much emphasis, on the other conferences belting the hell out of each other before facing, an RA conference team. All teams, need to face each other in a round-robin comp long before facing each other, in the finals series.

        If anything, SR should revert to every team playing against each other, in a round-robin comp. The finals series can still be based upon country of origin table positions if that’s what the partners want. But then, I’ve argued against the conference winners set-up already so, I’d argue here also.

        Your table position will depend upon your round-robin success but that’s not, where the commercial reality lies….does it???


        • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:27pm
          Joe King said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

          That’s a a fair criticism OB. My idea isn’t perfect. One of the other main criticisms of the round robin format was that the SA teams are more disadvantaged than others. But it is certainly a fairer system than the current set-up.

          • Columnist

            May 22nd 2018 @ 5:44pm
            Geoff Parkes said | May 22nd 2018 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

            The biggest problem with a round robin is that it would only deliver 14 rounds. That’s not enough content for the broadcasters and so the rights value would drop proportionately.

            Thanks Joe, I’m not convinced about your proposal myself, but what I do like is that it’s a positive attempt to throw up an alternative.

            • May 22nd 2018 @ 6:13pm
              Old Bugger said | May 22nd 2018 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

              Yes I realise that content will present a hurdle but, if the concerns about trying to manage players throughout the season keep being raised, I wouldn’t mind suggesting that the coaches, will eventually have some say.

              Already, NZ franchises are being forced to provide stand-down periods for their AB players so sooner or later, this matter will become an issue, for both players and coaches. Players health, is becoming a key issue particularly regarding HIA matters, with more and more players having to take early retirement, as a result.

              If the issue of content wasn’t a concern, then we must ask why the ABs are subject to the stand-down periods?

              • Columnist

                May 23rd 2018 @ 8:15am
                Geoff Parkes said | May 23rd 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

                It’s a huge issue OB, there is far too much rugby played.

                But it’s a question of who has the power to change things. Clearly the English Premiership and French Top 14 aren’t giving any ground, the French season is so long players are with the club for around 11 months.

                NZ rugby does try to manage player loads but need to balance this against bringing enough money in to keep their players.

                Nick Bishop and I agree that change will only come when the player unions get organised enough and active enough to force change. But they are a long way away from that at the moment – some of the leadership in the associations in both hemispheres has been underwhelming.

            • May 23rd 2018 @ 1:37pm
              Joe King said | May 23rd 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

              Thanks Geoff. I appreciate you taking the time to have a look!

      • May 22nd 2018 @ 4:24pm
        Joe King said | May 22nd 2018 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

        Yeah, I could go for that idea as well WCR. You are definitely an ideas man WCR!

    • May 22nd 2018 @ 12:21pm
      nutter said | May 22nd 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

      Joe, I actually think we should mimic the northern hemisphere comp more closely. They’ve got the Pro 14 & the top 14 and the Celtic Cup which are their own comps but feed into the Heinekin Cup (or whatever it’s called now) as well as the champions cup.

      We have the three conferences with whatever combinations of teams each country wants to support. They run a domestic comp of whatever period suits the number of teams in each country but it all concludes around the same time (preferably somewhere in May). Then, the best placed 3 or 4 teams from each conference compete in the top level Cup with the rest in the Div 2 Cup. An intense 12 team home or away tournament for the top Cup, top four make finals. Similar period for the Div 2 Cup but opportunity for winners from US/Canadian/PI comps to be included to make numbers work.

      For Australia I’d recommend sticking with the five 2017 Super teams and Japan. Six teams gives home and away games opportunity and plenty of domestic rivalry before the international flavour kicks off, culminating in the RC in Aug-Sep.

      Would achieve a couple of things:
      Increased domestic games meaning less travel. Improved & easier scheduling (eg Top Aussie team at home for first two weeks then two week tour of NZ and two week tour of SA, second place Aussie team opens with two week SA tour, then two weeks at home, then two weeks in NZ).
      A longer season for all teams where they’re involved for more months, even if they miss their domestic finals, they are preparing for the next comp (or in fact, going straight into it so there’s no loss of momentum).
      A more level playing field. Similar to sevens, you play finals against teams that are at around the same level as you so even if you got punished in the domestic comp, you’re still competitive in Div 2.
      More international exposure and an easy opportunity for expansion if the US, South America or Asia develop well enough, if the comp is successful enough then you can qualify more teams.

      • May 23rd 2018 @ 1:44pm
        Joe King said | May 23rd 2018 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

        Yep, I think the ARU should have pursued a national domestic comp in Australia, followed by a shorter champions league with NZ and SA, from the very beginning of professional rugby.

        I remember years ago, many SA and NZ fans use to complain that the SR teams were artificial and not their traditional provincial teams. Now the SR teams are all that many fans from SA and NZ have known, and so they are well and truly established.