South African rugby administrators will sacrifice their best players if they agree to drastic Super-14 format changes that the Australians are proposing.
This is the what Super Rugby experts Rudy Joubert and Henry Kelbrick thought about the Australian Rugby Union’s “facelift” proposals for the competition.
Morris Gilbert writes in Beeld that John O’Neill, chief executive of the ARU, told an Australian newspaper that his vision for a longer, bigger and more exciting Super Series was already being discussed at a high level.
Whether these discussions include South Africa was not clear. Jonathan Stones, managing director of SA Rugby, was locked in a meeting with Fifa soccer officials on Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
O’Neill wanted the Super 14 to be enlarged by at least one more team, with Japan joining the Tri-Nations alliance of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
If the Australian proposals are accepted, the Super Series will run over 26 weeks, from February to August. Only then will the Tri-Nations series and home test matches against northern-hemisphere countries get under way.
Could mean the end of the Currie Cup
This could result in leading players turning out in roughly 22 Super Rugby matches before their international commitments start.
The tournament would be in a two-round format, with a full round-robin phase followed by a round featuring “local derbies” among the home teams of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Joubert, a former Bulls coach, said it would take a lot for the players to maintain the pace, intensity and competitiveness of the Super-14 competition for such a long period.
“Even if you have a big squad, I can’t see that the proposed amendments will even see the light,” Joubert said on Thursday.
“In addition to the huge toll it may extract from our best players, an extension of the Super 14 can also mean the end of Currie Cup rugby.”
Joubert felt the Australians would be hardest hit if the competition were extended because they did not have nearly the depth that South Africa and New Zealand had.
“To me it seems the ARU’s proposals are aimed at a kind of remuneration package for their own people because they do not have a strong provincial competition such as the Currie Cup and the Air New Zealand Cup.”
Kelbrick, a sports medicine expert and former Bulls team doctor, said, “The rev counter is already in red. We can’t expect our top players to play more rugby.
“The Super 14 is tough and exhausting and already demands a lot from every player who now has to play in a maximum of 15 matches.”Tweet