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The Roar



McLennan's Australia-based Super Rugby competition could be a winner

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19th June, 2022
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I do not know whether Rugby Australia CEO, Hamish McLennan, is serious about Australia going it alone in Super Rugby, but after some consideration, I like the idea.

Australia’s unique advantage which could make an Australian competition successful is that we are a migrant nation with large populations of residents who were born in major rugby union-playing countries.

There are just shy of a million English-born Australians, nearly 560,000 New Zealanders, 200,000 South Africans, with significant populations also from Japan, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

I believe that each of these populations would support a Super Rugby team of high-quality expatriate players and coaches in Australia.

Kiwis in Australia would lap up a team that might be named “OzKiwis” dishing it out to the five Aussie sides and their international rivals, as would the expatriate fans from all the other teams.

The competition could be fleshed out with a Pacific and a Japanese team, for a 10-team round robin home-and-away competition and the top four teams going to semi-finals and finals.

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Here’s why this competition structure would be far superior to Super Rugby Pacific.

– The Australian teams would get more games against tier 1 international teams than they do in Super Rugby Pacific. The English style of play is something that our Super Rugby franchises have never had an opportunity to play against and they no longer get to test themselves against the might of the South Africans.

– The competition would not only draw the expatriate crowds and viewers at home, but also interest from the massive rugby broadcast market across England, South Africa, Japan, New Zealand and further.

Not only could this be a very large source of revenue, but a perfect promotion of Australian rugby in the lead-up to the Lions Tour in 2025 and the World Cups in 2027 and 2029.

– All games except for home games in Japan and in the Pacific would be played in Australia, with the money to stay here and develop our game. If it grows big enough, we may even be able to offer the salaries that would attract foreign-based players back to Australian rugby.

– There would be enough games to play a significant number away from the five capital cities where our teams are currently based, to develop the game in regional Australia and in non-rugby states and territories, like South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

– Our ties with Japan, an emerging partner in player sharing arrangements and the Pacific, a major source of players in Australia, would be strengthened.


– The teams would participate entirely on Rugby Australia’s terms, so there would be no more bickering with foreign unions over Super Rugby.

– The time zones the games would be played in would be perfect for Australian audiences.

There is no doubt a lot of work that would need to happen to determine whether an Aussie competition featuring more expat teams would be viable, but I think it is definitely an option for Rugby Australia to consider.