Why Super Rugby should shrink
Share your news and views
After hearing of the recent New Zealand rugby players heading to Australia recently (Tamati Ellison to Rebels, Telusa Veainu to Rebels, Toby Lynn to Force, Jason Woodward to Rebels, Alby Mathewson to Force and Henry Speight to Brumbies), it has come to my attention that there is a clear lack of depth in Australian rugby circles.
When Super 12 reigned supreme in the 1990s and early 2000s, New Zealand had five teams, South Africa had four, and Australia had three. Australia was competitive in Super 12 with the Brumbies winning a couple of titles, while the Reds and Waratahs also had competitive sides.
However Australia's lack of depth became evident with the introduction of the Western Force in 2006, and got worse when the Rebels arrived on the scene in 2011.
Super Rugby should reduce in teams and in competition length for a few reasons.
Firstly, as mentioned previously, the Australians have terrible depth in rugby.
In Australia, there is no provincial competition.
In 2007 the ARU launched the Mazda Australian Rugby championship to form a provincial competition shortening the gap between club rugby and Super 14.
This ill-fated stint lasted just one season after the ARU lost $1.1 million and crowds to games were minuscule. Ever since 2011, many New Zealanders who are promising ITM Cup and Super Rugby players have headed across the ditch to fill rosters.
The Rebels and Force, who have the least amount of home-grown players, have secured quite a few New Zealanders since 2011: Toby Lynn, Sam Christie, Alby Mathewson, Jason Woodward, Scott Fuglistaller, Henry Speight, Toby Smith, Jayden Hayward, Chris Eaton and now Tamati Ellison and Telusa Veainu.
No longer do these rugby players earn their place trying to get into a New Zealand side as there is a spot waiting for them over there.
On top of this, South African Super Rugby teams are only going to get weaker from here on in, I predict.
The SARU has allowed players to be selected for the Springboks while playing overseas. It is quite clear that players would rather chase the big bucks in Japan or Europe rather than playing Super Rugby.
South African depth too, will be sorely tested.
Another issues is that the current conference system is too long and I believe the competition needs to be altered and reduced.
Greg Peters, the SANZAR CEO and former Hurricanes boss, has allowed the South Africans six teams. Why should the South Africa get the most teams when at least two of their teams finish in the bottom four every single year?
The expansion of Super Rugby has also meant little time for the ITM Cup. Sadly, 'too much rugby', according to some, has seen their interest in provincial rugby decline.
The ITM Cup gets less media coverage these days compared to Super Rugby.
So here are my suggestions on how to fix the ailing monster that is Super Rugby:
Option A: Decrease and remove the Rebels, Force, Lions and Kings.
The removal of these teams would take the competition almost back to the good old days of Super 12, everyone would play everyone (something that doesn't happen in Super Rugby today) and there would be four teams in the semi finals.
Option B: Shorter season incorporating all teams.
The conference system would still be kept in this option but each team in each conference would play each other once instead of twice. This would ease the players' workload and there would a good two-month rest at the end of the year.
Option C: Format change in terms of playoffs.
I think the top six is unfair because the New Zealand conference is by far the strongest, but only two of our teams are able to make the playoffs realistically each year.
The Australian conference traditionally has the three strongest teams in the Brumbies, Reds and Waratahs who get two easy games against the Rebels and Force that gives them a significant advantage.
I suggest that there should be a top eight and the teams should have quarterfinals based on where they finish on the overall table.
Two teams from each conference shouldn't get an automatic advantage just because they finish in the top two of the conference.
The South African conference gave easy wins to those playing the Kings.
So what do you think should happen to Super Rugby, should it reduce or expand?
My last wish is that the provinces in New Zealand get more Super Rugby matches. I'm talking to you Invercargill, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Pukekohe Whangarei, New Plymouth and Rotorua.
View all contributions