There is nothing wrong with Super Rugby – or rather, nothing that adding more teams to the mix is going to solve.
Looking at the mix of teams – and the historical results – one can’t argue that the balance was closest to being right back in the Super 12 days, when the Kiwis had five teams, South Africa four and the Aussies three. South Africa does not have the quality to field five teams; this is patently clear when we consider that we regularly occupy two of the bottom three positions on the log. More often than not, three South African teams will be among the bottom six.
The Aussies don’t have the player base to field four competitive sides, as can be seen in the decline of the Reds and (to a lesser extent) the Brumbies, since the Western Force was introduced. Increased depth will come for them as they increase the grassroots popularity of the game and I’m afraid that shoehorning yet another sub-standard team into Super Rugby is going to do little to accomplish that goal.
SARU also needs to catch a wakeup here. Nobody else in the SANZAR alliance gives a fig about the Southern Kings or the political imperative behind their inclusion. Fact is, we need to have the balls to take the tough decision and bin either (or preferably both of) the Cheetahs and/or the Lions to make way for the new franchise. Hell, it’s hardly like those teams have a collective leg to stand on based on a truly woeful set of results over the last four years.
The main culprit, of course, is that John O’Neill chap who, as usual, is trying to subvert the entire process to accomplish his own selfish aim. Trying to turn the Super 14 into a souped up Aussie domestic league when he didn’t even have the balls to give his own domestic competition a second season (after the first one tanked) really is a little bit rich. Face it, pal – your own people aren’t that keen on rugby union. Why should South Africa and New Zealand pay the price for your own failings?
Leave the competition (or at least, the allocation of franchises) as is, I implore you. Let each country take the tough decision that are necessary to ensure that the right teams play every year and if that ends up being decided by promotion and relegation based on performance in a national provincial competition, so much the better!Tweet