I’ve read a number of articles about removing conference systems, how the complexity of the Super Rugby competition is killing it and on new television deals. So, what rugby competition do you want to watch?
I agree that the conference system, specifically the international games, are making it hard to follow your team, leading to a disconnect for fans and a growing lack of interest.
Perhaps streaming services, with their delayed viewing, will help. But that feels like a band-aid.
So let’s turn it all on its head.
At the moment we have Super Rugby and then the international season and the concurrent provincial tournaments.
What if we held a version of the provincial tournaments first? NRL and AFL have flourishing national competitions, why can’t rugby do the same?
Rugby has trophies for everything. In the Australian conference, the Brumbies play for the Dan Vickerman Cup, the Rod McQueen Cup, a trophy for playing the Rebels I’m sure (I couldn’t for the life of me find it) and the conference trophy.
But most of these things are meaningless cabinet-fillers at the end of the day. No fans are sitting in a pub bragging about keeping the Rod McQueen Cup for another year. And sport, as we all know, is built on rivalries.
Why not make these worth something, with more rivalry games for the fans to become parochial about?
If we can have two or three games against each team in Australia, then perhaps a final, we could make the Australian trophy worthwhile.
This would also give Rugby Australia more self-determination – you could bring the Force back, make a Western Sydney team or any other expansion you’d like.
This could then be followed by a paired-back Super Rugby competition, where perhaps only the finalist teams (meaning first and second) play against the other New Zealand, Argentina and South African teams – Champions League style.
This would mean fewer games, so Super Rugby would still fit in before the international season.
You get the rivalries, the international club and representative seasons, and greater self-determination.