Super Rugby expansion a 'shambles'
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Is Super Rugby expansion a super idea?
The upcoming Super Rugby expansion is a total shambles. From my understanding, this is what the new format is supposed to achieve:
- Keep the tournament a manageable length.
- Increase broadcast revenue.
- Limit the increasingly ridiculous amount of travel.
- Include a sixth South African team.
- Not further compromise the Currie & ITM cups.
- Make sure South African teams are involved.
- Maintain local derbies (the Australian Rugby Union's goal.
- Decrease the local derbies (the New Zealand Rugby Union's goal).
It's time to throw it all out and start again from the bottom.
It's not surprising that the proposed model is a mess. With such conflict of interest, anything will simply be a great big compromise. So why not start with the NPC?
One thing many people seem to be suggesting is a Champion's League-style tournament, wherein the highest ranked teams of each country's domestic league qualify for that year's Super Rugby. To me at least, that sounds like compelling TV.
However, the main counterargument to this idea is that the domestic leagues wouldn't bring in much money.
Here's where my two cents comes in.
I understand that domestic leagues won't attract much revenue, but then that's the heart of the problem, isn't it? If people aren't interested in rugby at a local level, the game is doomed to die no matter how many teams from the four corners of the earth we can pull into this current mess of a competition.
The solution is to grow the game from the ground up, not the other way around. Boosting interest and viewership in the countries we already have is a better solution than forcing it in countries that might not be ready just yet (Singapore?).
Unfortunately that isn't very likely with the current local-derby-heavy format of Super Rugby making the Currie and ITM cups irrelevant.
People have been saying that the NZRU wouldn't be able to afford to pay all these provincial teams if they were to all contend for a champions league-style Super Rugby qualification. It's hardly surprising, as when you watch the games you can't help but notice all the empty seats.
Instead of trying to get the money from somewhere else, why not push for people to really care about provincial rugby again? Get people to attend games and watch it on TV.
To do this, make the domestic championships important again by airing the important matches live on free TV as the NRL and AFL do in Australia. Then Super Rugby could be made a separate competition involving the domestic winners, and that competition could be broadcast on pay TV.
A competition like this would certainly tick all the boxes, and I for one would watch it. Wouldn't you?
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