Balance is the way to Super Rugby success

Boof Head Roar Rookie

By Boof Head, Boof Head is a Roar Rookie

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    After the decision was made to reduce Australian Super Rugby sides to a count of four, and to cut the Western Force, it’s safe to say that many were not only hoping, but expecting a dramatic increase in form from our sides.

    However, while there have been some improvements form wise, inconsistency still plagues the Australian sides to the point where it seems as if any of the four (including the Brumbies after their impressive upset over the Bulls in Pretoria), could beat each other and rightfully take top spot in the conference.

    Simply take the Queensland Reds as an example. In back to back weeks they went from being levelled by more than 60 points against the humble Sunwolves, to going toe to toe and going down by a mere couple against the slick Hurricanes.

    While all sides being competitive with each other is fundamental to an entertaining sports competition, what is of more interest to the fans is their ability to compete with the franchises from other nations. For many, international rugby is viewed as the pinnacle and while we all sit and savour the weekly razzle dazzle delivered to us by the Super Rugby tournament, we do so with the success of our nation in the Test matches later in the year looming in the back of our minds.

    As has been brought up not just on The Roar many times but also generally in the Rugby community, a more collaborative approach between our franchises, akin to that of New Zealand, can only benefit our success. I believe the player swap that occurred between the Hurricanes and the Blues (Otere Black for Ihaia West) is not only a fantastic initiative but also the first step in an increasingly personnel – fluid professional environment for our sport.

    In fact, I reckon this approach could and should be utilised to overhaul the Australian teams, making each more and more competitive.

    I’m talking about drafting. The most competitive and engaged sports leagues in the world do it, particularly in America with the NBA and NFL. It creates balance from a competitive point of view, and interest, mystery and excitement from a fan-base perspective.

    It merges consecutive seasons by filling the off season with a dramatic event that can suggest the fortune of one’s team. But best of all, it could promote the improved strength of all four of our franchises.

    One only has to compare the imbalance of the experience in the rosters of the Reds and Rebels, or the Waratahs and Brumbies, to understand how each team has its own individual strengths and flaws. If a nation wide reshuffle of players was conducted, it could only help each team.

    Firstly, here is a rough estimate of each franchise’s best XV. Let’s ignore injuries and off field drama for the sake of using the 2018 season as an accurate representation of our pre season player pool.

    Waratahs
    1. Tom Robertson
    2. Tolu Latu
    3. Sekope Kepu
    4. Rob Simmons
    5. Ned Hanigan
    6. Jack Dempsey
    7. Michael Hooper
    8. Jed Holloway
    9. Jake Gordon
    10. Bernard Foley
    11. Cameron Clarke
    12. Kurtley Beale
    13. Curtis Rona
    14. Taqele Naiyaravoro
    15. Israel Folau

    Israel Folau looks on

    Brumbies
    1. Scott Sio
    2. Folau Fainga’a
    3. Allan Ala’alatoa
    4. Tom Carter
    5. Rory Arnold
    6. Isi Naisarani
    7. David Pocock
    8. Rob Valetini
    9. Joe Powell
    10. Christian Lealiifano
    11. Henry Speight
    12. Kyle Godwin
    13. Tevita Kuridrani
    14. Chance Peni
    15. Tom Banks

    Reds
    1. James Slipper
    2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa
    3. Taniela Tupou
    4. Lukhan Tui
    5. Izack Rodda
    6. Caleb Timu
    7. George Smith
    8. Scott Higginbotham
    9. James Tuttle
    10. Jono Lance
    11. Filipo Daugunu
    12. Duncan Paia’aua
    13. Samu Kerevi
    14. Izaia Perese
    15. Aidan Toua

    Taniela Tupou Reds running against the Rebels

    Rebels
    1. Tetera Faulkner
    2. Jordan Uelese
    3. Jermaine Ainsley
    4. Geoff Parling
    5. Adam Coleman
    6. Lopeti Timani
    7. Richard Hardwick
    8. Amanaki Mafi
    9. Will Genia
    10. Jack Debreczeni
    11. Marika Koroibete
    12. Bill Meakes
    13. Reece Hodge
    14. Sefanaia Naivalu
    15. Dane Haylett-Petty

    Now following on from this, let’s (roughly!) arrange our players in terms of ability and experience. Of course, everyone will have a different opinion on these rankings but the underlying argument still stands regardless.

    Loosehead: Sio, Slipper, Faulkner, Robertson, Fa’agase, Ryan, Mayhew, Daley

    Hooker: Latu, Charles, Uelese, Paenga-Amosa, Rangi, Fainga’a, Ready, Mann-Rea, Fitzpatrick, Abel

    Tighthead: Kepu, Allaatoa, Tupou, Ainsley, Alexander, Weeks, Talakai, Vui, Vanzati

    Lock: Coleman, Rodda, Tui, Philip, Arnold, Simmons, Douglas, Carter, Hanigan, Enever, Arnold(Richie), Hockings

    Blindside: Dempsey, Timu, Timani, Naisarani, McCaffrey, Cusack, Haylett-Petty(Ross), Fakaosilea, Cottrell, Scott-Young, Fainga’a

    Openside: Hooper, Pocock, Smith, Miller, Hardwick, Wright, Korczyk

    Eight: Higginbotham, Holloway, Wells, Valetini,

    Halfback: Genia, Gordon, Tuttle, Ruru, Powell, Lucas, Phipps, Sorovi,

    Flyhalf: Foley, Lance, Hegarty, Debreczeni, Stewart, Adams, Jackson-Hope

    Inside: Beale, Kerevi, Meakes, Paia’aua, Lealiifano, Godwin,, Horwitz, Tuipoluto

    Outside: Hodge, Rona, English, Kurindrani, Feauai-Sautia, Simone, Smith (Andrew), Foketi

    Wing: Koroibete, Naiyaravoro, Naivalu, Maddocks, Clarke, Speight, Peni, Perese, Newsome, Daugunu, Dargaville,

    Fullback: Folau, Haylett-Petty, Banks, Toua

    Dane Haylett-Petty Wallabies Australia Rugby Union 2017

    We then progress to the more difficult and subjective aspect of distributing players evenly, to create four solid XVs. This is where the Brumbies manage to attain some strike power out wide, or the Reds acquire some more experience in their ranks. The Rebels and Waratahs rosters may both lose some experience but this in turn allows for greater player promotion from local sources such as the Shute Shield.

    To ensure even distribution, the first team gets the first choice in the first position (Loosehead Prop) before the second team gets the first choice in the second position (Hooker) and so on.

    Sio
    Paenga-Amosa
    Tupou
    Rodda
    Arnold
    Naisarani
    Smith
    Holloway
    Genia
    Debreczeni
    Naivalu
    Paia’aua
    Rona
    Clarke
    Toua

    Slipper
    Latu
    Ainsley
    Tui
    Simmons
    Dempsey
    Miller
    Wells
    Gordon
    Foley
    Maddocks
    Lealliifano
    English
    Speight
    Folau

    Faulkner
    Charles
    Kepu
    Phillip
    Douglas
    Timu
    Hooper
    Valetini
    Tuttle
    Lance
    Koroibete
    Beale
    Kurindrani
    Peni
    Haylett-Petty

    Robertson
    Uelese
    Allaatoa
    Coleman
    Carter
    Timani
    Pocock
    Higginbotham
    Ruru
    Hegarty
    Naiyaravoro
    Meakes
    Hodge
    Perese
    Banks

    There are several issues which would form great discussion points. Firstly, is a simple ranking system the best way to form four even sides? Or would it be more advantageous to have a complex negotiation system, where certain players who form great combinations are kept together and allowances are made for certain players who cannot move for family reasons?

    Secondly, do we want four even sides? This approach prevents a pool of comparatively stronger players from accumulating at one franchise, which could form a very strong side in the competition. While this is good in theory, it doesn’t always work out in practice; eg. the Rebels in 2018.

    Surely the answer must be a mixture of both. A backlog of Wallabies can deter an aspiring Super Rugby player and cause them to cash out on a deal overseas. A healthy, balanced ranking system will promote greater player retention in my opinion.

    Simply having back a portion of Tatafu Polotau Nau, Scott Fardy, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Jesse Mogg, Liam Gill, Ben Mowen, Alofa Alofa, Peter Betham, Dave Dennis, Greg Holmes, Luke Jones, James Hanson and Luke Morohan would only add experience and quality to Australia rugby.

    Thoughts? Rip in.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • May 28th 2018 @ 3:19am
      KenoathCarnt said | May 28th 2018 @ 3:19am | ! Report

      Tom Banks has been very impressive for Brumbies I hope he gets a run with the Wallabies. He is quick and evasive and looks like he can kick.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 3:37am
      KenoathCarnt said | May 28th 2018 @ 3:37am | ! Report

      Does anyone know if Sami Radrada can play for the Wallabies? Was watching highlights of him against England he is insane!

      • May 28th 2018 @ 6:50pm
        killaku said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

        No,Played 7s for Fiji

    • May 28th 2018 @ 6:05am
      Ken Catchpole’s Other Leg said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:05am | ! Report

      Brilliant suggestion, even if it brilliantly avoids one of the most pressing ‘player sharing’ problems atm in Queensland.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 6:27am
      Onside said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      Is coaching, RA coaching directives, fitness regimes, part of this suggestion.

    • Roar Guru

      May 28th 2018 @ 11:32am
      PeterK said | May 28th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

      You would not implement a draft based on some arbitrary ranking system instead each coach would get to choose who they want in order. What you could do is make them choose by position until all are exhausted.

      This allows coaches to select who they think fit best, or the ones they think are the best or the ones with most potential.

      That said.

      Why would any coach pay anything other than the minimum they can for a player (only enough so they don’t o/s) since there would be zero competition in aust for the player?

      Also how long are they signed for? If they are signed for 3-4 years then they don’t enter a draft for that time so a coach who develops the players the best gets the best improvement.

      Obviously the players association would challenge a draft and it won’t get off the ground.

      • May 28th 2018 @ 7:06pm
        Boof Head said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

        Sure. End goal is still reached and probably in a more ideal fashion.

        Ranking moreso used to illustrate the potential distribution of players

      • May 29th 2018 @ 9:23pm
        Hazzmat said | May 29th 2018 @ 9:23pm | ! Report

        Super Rugby loses credibility because of the current conference system. I realise that travel is an issue due to the geographical nature of the teams involved, and whilst the conference system may reduce overall costs, in my view it only cheapens the competition.

        In my view teams will only improve if they play every other team in the competition, including the strong and the not so. We may even see more upsets due to the effects of travel a true home-and-away competition brings.

        Some teams will need to travel more, so perhaps they could be given and extra bye when on the road, eg: two games away, a bye week then two more games away.

        Unfortunately I don’t see the conference system changing anytime soon so perhaps RA needs to think seriously about relegation?

        RA should speak to Twiggy Forrest about creating an expanded IPRC – a recognised second-tier Super Rugby competition if you will – including more combined Pacific Island nations and/or including some of the Japanese domestic teams to add to the competition.

        The last Australian team at the end of the regular Super Rugby season is relegated to this competition for the next year. It may just bring about better performances from the Australian franchises.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 6:18pm
      Rhys Bosley said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

      The easiest way to balance out the Super Rugby teams in Australia, would be to include Wallaby top ups under a higher salary cap. There would be no need for a beauraucratic process whatsoever, the market would distribute quality players more evenly and trsnsparently.

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