Super Rugby: Will 2015 be the last of it?
It has been reported in The Sydney Morning Herald that Super Rugby as we know it might not be after 2015. This is due to South Africa wanting an expanded competition while Australia and New Zealand feeling 15 teams are more than enough. According to the report Australia and New Zealand will form their own competition and might include an Asian team. South Africa will then form a competition with Argentina or might even go to Europe for competition.
All of the parties are talking about player fatigue and management as reasoning behind not wanting to expand, while SARU needs an extra spot as they have the issue of 6 teams but only space for 5. It does however seem like all parties are happy with the conference system and just want to see a few tweaks to refine it.
To be honest the problem is that neither Australia nor New Zealand can effectively enter an extra team into the competition. Why then not expand to other countries? Argentina is sitting waiting to be added as this would just make their rugby stronger. Then there is countries like Fiji, Tonga and Samoa not to mention Japan, USA and Canada that will give an arm to play. It is really quite easy to get a Super Rugby competition going that will then benefit more countries and keep the big three happy.
The Heineken Cup has 24 teams and they play less rugby than we do in Super Rugby with our 15 teams. The main difference is that the play in 6 groups of 4 teams. Each team playing the others home and away. The top 6 teams are entered into the quarter finals with the two best placed runners up joining them. From there it is semi’s and then the final. 76 games in total and a champion is crowned.
Super Rugby plays endless rounds of derbies then have teams travelling to play 4 games in other countries and have 4 teams visiting them at home. A distorted overall log with 6 teams making it to play-offs. And then having semi-finals and a final. 132 games later and 6 months to boot and we have a final. Half the supporters stopped watching back in April already.
Easy fix. Here is a look at how we can change Super Rugby to work for all.
The current temas from Australia and New Zealand joined by the 6 teams from South Africa. Argentina adds two teams of their own with Fiji & Samoa. A draw system starting with the top teams them takes place and 4 groups of 5 teams are selected. Groups will look something like this:
Group A Group B Group C Group D
Crusaders Brumbies Bulls Stormers
Chiefs Reds Sharks Cheetahs
Lions Argentina 1 Blues Hurricanes
Kings Argentina 2 Highlanders Force
Rebels Waratahs Samoa Fiji
Two rounds are played with teams in each group playing the others home and away. The top two sides in each group progress to a quarter-final and from there the semis are played and then the final. That is a total of 87 games from strat to finish. It can be fitted in over 13-15 weeks. That would be 2 games a week per group with one team having a bye. That is 8 games a week with 4 byes. Currently we have maximum 7 games a week. Top 2 teams in each group plays in the quarter-finals and the winners goes to the semis and then the final.
If they start the competition like they do currently in the last week of February they are done by end of May. That is with a 2 additional rest weeks. Suddenly there are now breaks for the June Test window needed. This means either the Rugby Championship can begin earlier and end way before the November tests or stay as is giving the players time to rest. It will also see the various countries still have ample time for their own domestic competitions that they have in place.
Obviously there might be some need for tweaking on this formula but think about it. This will help curb the player fatigue and injury rate that all and sundry are concerned about and it eill take rugby to other regions as well. The main thing is that the money hungry administrators will just see that there are less games and thus less money from sponsors, broadcasting and all that. They might actually have full stadiums again if they go this route as people will be kept interested through out the competition.
But then this is just my humble view. The guys at SANZAR probably had a look at something similar and decided it wont work.