I want to make an appeal to my fair-minded Kiwi friends on The Roar.
Let me tell you the plan, and then let me address your concern. Here’s the plan.
For the next two years, we stick with a separate Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa competition with six teams each.
A six-team home-and-away season will take us to 13 weeks including finals, a bye week, and an Anzac Bledisloe Cup game (see below).
Both the AU and Aotearoa finals would be played to a packed house, as would the mid-season Anzac Bledisloe Cup game.
The AU and Aotearoa finals would be followed by a Super Bowl game between the winner of Super Rugby AU and the winner of Super Rugby Aotearoa. Boom! Another packed house. This takes us to 14 weeks.
This would be followed by a Champions League played over five weeks. The top two Japanese teams would join the top two Aotearoa teams and the top two AU teams. Each team would play all other teams not from their own domestic competition for four games followed by a final between the two best teams. Boom! Another packed house.
At the same time as the Champions League is being played, the bottom four AU teams would play the bottom four Aotearoa teams in a shorter Super Rugby Trans-Tasman. Again, each team would play all the other teams not from their own domestic comp for four games followed by a final between the two best teams.
The Champions League and Trans-Tasman would take us to 19 weeks, which would fill the window between late February and the July Tests.
Every team from New Zealand and Australia would get a minimum of seven home games and seven away games each year. There would be plenty of blockbuster events and finals throughout the season to capture the interest of spectators.
The season would look as follows.
Week 1: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 2: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 3: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 4: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 5: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 6: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 7: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 8: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 9: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa (week off for all Test players in camp)
Week 10: Anzac Day Bledisloe Cup (week off for all non-Test players)
Week 11: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa
Week 12: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa semi-final
Week 13: Super Rugby AU/Aotearoa final
Week 14: Super Bowl
Week 15: Champions League/Trans-Tasman
Week 16: Champions League/Trans-Tasman
Week 17: Champions League/Trans-Tasman
Week 18: Champions League/Trans-Tasman
Week 19: Champions League/Trans-Tasman final
Now let me address your main concern.
You say Super Rugby Aotearoa is too intense for the players and too boring for the fans.
But here’s the thing I want to say to my Kiwi friends: Super Rugby Aotearoa is not the worst thing that could happen to you. Seriously.
You don’t realise how good rugby fans have got it in New Zealand compared to Australia.
I’m absolutely befuddled that more Kiwis aren’t besotted with Super Rugby Aotearoa. It was such fantastic rugby! And look at how good it has made your teams and players. They’ve never been better!
Being worried about the intensity of Super Rugby Aotearoa or feeling a bit bored by it are seriously not big problems compared to the negative impact losing Super Rugby AU and replacing it with a full season Trans-Tasman will have on Australian rugby.
Let me say that another way: retaining Super Rugby Aotearoa will hurt New Zealand rugby a lot less than losing Super Rugby AU and replacing it with a full-season Trans-Tasman will hurt Australian rugby. That’s the bottom line. Please hear this concern.
Australia needs Super Rugby AU in the short term. And we can’t afford to have a full-season Trans-Tasman comp at the moment because of the competitive gap that exists between our teams. The above plan gives us the goldilocks amount of Trans-Tasman games for now.
Now, please don’t threaten to walk away with the two new Pacific Island teams. That’s just silly. A seven-team home-and-away Super Rugby Aotearoa would take up the whole season, leaving Australia alone to do something special with Japan after Super Rugby AU. You don’t want to miss out on that. The above plan is better for you.
However, if you really can’t accept Super Rugby Aotearoa, then at least bear with it for the next two years before we join together for a full-season Trans-Tasman comp. This will give Rugby Australia time to put in place and execute a plan to develop the depth and competitiveness of our Super Rugby teams while we play slightly fewer games against the New Zealand teams in the Champions League and Trans-Tasman as explained above.
Surely that’s a fair deal, and not too much to ask from our noble Kiwi friends.