Spiro Zavos, The Roar columnist, gives his view on the South African reaction to the Super Rugby impasse.
Round 12 of the Super 14 provided exciting matches. Along with the Heineken Cup, Europe’s version of Super Rugby, the tournament is the strongest provincial competition in the world. Why would South Africa want to kill it?
The purported reason is to prevent the Currie Cup being “devalued in any way” by the Springboks being unable to play in it. But this happens now. The Currie Cup starts on July 10 and ends on October 31. Throughout July, August and into September the Springboks are playing the Tri Nations tournament, with South Africa playing their last Test on September 12 against New Zealand at Hamilton.
Only 18 matches (including the finals) of the 55 matches in the Currie Cup are played after that Test. The Springboks miss most of the Currie Cup.
South African newspapers report that SA Rugby’s response to the ARU and NZRU Asia-Pacific alternative tournament will be to form their own competition with Argentina, the US and sides from Scotland and Ireland from February to May. I am getting reports, too, from South African sources that SA Rugby has tied up some lucrative European deals. How will this work?
The Magners League is the main league for the Celtic clubs (and two Italian sides in the next year or so). It starts in September and finishes in May. It is used by the teams to qualify for the Heineken Cup. Leinster defeated Munster at the weekend in the Heineken Cup semi-final in front of a record crowd of more than 82,000 at Croke Park. Why would the major Irish provinces such as Ulster and Leinster give up their chance of qualifying for the Heineken Cup in favour of a lesser tournament involving travel to South Africa?
On the Rugby Club on Thursday night, commentator Warren Brosnihan, a former Springbok, was asked about alternatives for South Africa to Super Rugby, and talked airily about a competition with some French clubs. But the French clubs are already overloaded with matches, and find it difficult to finish their tournaments before July.
Aside from everything else that is wrong or muddle-headed about SA Rugby’s proposals, there is the consideration that Super Rugby has improved the quality of South African rugby – leading to their 2007 World Cup triumph.
Super Rugby teams must have a complete game to succeed, no matter what style of rugby they play. The Waratahs this year have based their game on a defence-oriented style. Against the Cheetahs, the Waratahs fielded a new-look back line with Kurtley Beale at inside-centre (but playing the New Zealand second five-eighth game), Timana Tahu at outside-centre and Lachie Turner at fullback. The back line worked effectively and, on occasions, brilliantly.
The impact of playing the two five-eighths game seemed to give the Waratahs the complete game they need to win the tournament. But have they left their run too late?Tweet