How many Australians cared about Scott Robertson breakdancing after the Crusaders won? Not many. If any.
The fact of the matter is Super Rugby Pacific was designed by New Zealand for New Zealand.
The Kiwis are the revenue winners. Australia are the revenue losers. New Zealand are Super Rugby Champs. Again. Australia on the improve, but still losing to little cuzzy bro. Kiwis are a big Super Rugby Pacific audience. A large potential Australian sporting audience continues to remain uninspired.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
If New Zealand and Rugby Australia came together in a spirit of good faith and a dogged determination to genuinely take on the Australian sporting marketplace, like a Richie McCaw All Black outfit, look out.
There is a way to grow the trans-Tasman rugby revenue pie. But it will require New Zealand giving a little. In doing so, they stand to gain a lot.
What I’m about to suggest would be a five-year trial. If it doesn’t work, things resort back to current situation. But if it does work? Oh boy!
I know rugby is like a religion in New Zealand, so first one might be a tough pill to swallow…
Add Australian geographical names to the front of some monikers.
The Northern Sydney Hurricanes play games now in both Northern Sydney (or larger ground) and Wellington. The Melbourne Highlanders play in both Melbourne and Otago. The Gold Coast Chiefs play in both Waikato and Gold Coast.
The Auckland Blues and Canterbury Crusaders would be left untouched, as would Moana Pacifika.
Australia has some work to do. Western Force would combine forces (pardon the pun) with Japan, playing out of Perth.
Australia would then be left with a concentration of talent across Brisbane, Sydney and the ACT, which has always been the formula for a strong Wallabies backbone. Just the challenge the All Blacks across the ditch.
In terms of players, the Kiwi franchises would have mostly local talent, but get first pick of five local players from each of North Sydney, Victoria and the Gold Coast. Without Aussies in New Zealand teams, the whole concept is disingenuous.
Western Force would poach international talent and Western Australian locals. The rest of Australia’s players would be placed in a concentrated east-coast pool of talent for selection by Brisbane, Sydney and ACT, with preferred home-city selections.
So nothing much changes for the Kiwis – you bring a few Aussies into your squad, use an Aussie geographic name, but keep the standing moniker.
Fixtures can be setup so there are no losses.
As for money, it really simple: don’t be greedy. Create a win-win revenue stream for Australia, New Zealand, Pacific teams and Argentina.
Super Rugby Pacific 2024
1. Auckland Blues
2. Canterbury Crusaders
3. Moana Pacifika
4. Fiji Drua
6. Gold Coast (Chiefs)
7. Northern Sydney (Hurricanes)
8. Southern Sydney
9. ACT Brumbies
10. Melbourne (Highlanders)
11. Western Force (linked with Japan and international talent)
12. Adelaide / Central Coast / Newcastle / Western Sydney (Jaguares – Argentina)
The 12th Australian-located team would field the Jaguares from Argentina. This time only a handful of games would be played back in Argentina, with five Australians in the squad.
The prremise is think global, but this time stay local!
By targeting eight Australian locations with combined New Zealand, Argentina and Aussie talent, how much more valuable is this broadcast deal? $10 million? $50 million? $100 million? What would be the Australian viewership projections in coming years?