Someone save Southern Hemisphere rugby

Written by Warren Smith (war1)

Posted in :Original Content, Super 14 on 29 Jun 2010 at 10:42
Tagged with : ,

A quick glance at the IRB world rankings will tell you that the Tri Nations teams are the best in the world, this has been so for a long time with only England and France being anything close to real threats to that dominance. Why then are players leaving Super 14 teams in their droves to play for European teams and to a lesser extent Japanese teams.
The answer lies simply in finances.

The Southern Hemisphere unions are simply not in a strong enough financial position to compete with European or even Japanese teams. This is in stark contrast to the beginning of the professional era where the Super 12 was the epitomy of the new exciting age of professionalism in the rugby world with bonus points and running rugby the order of the day, while the old dinosaurs in the North shook their heads at their Southern colleagues so eagerly embracing that which they fought a hundred years to oppose.

You may not know that professionalism was what caused the split between Rugby League and Union and the opposition to a Rugby Union World Cup from the North centred mainly around the fear that the game would become professional. So, it made sense that the South would embrace professionalism more than the North.

What is the situation now? With dwindling crowds in Australia and New Zealand, the finances of the world’s premier regional competition are starting to dry up. According to what I have heard, the South African part of SANZAR is the only one making any sort of profit. This is another reason why the Melbourne Rebels were awarded a franchies over the Kings, quite simply SANZAR needed the money.

Don’t be fooled by Southern Hemisphere players returning to their nations of birth lately, they want to play in the world cup and then leave again. In the past a few quality international players from the South would finish their careers in Europe, nowadays you have players in their prime plying their trade in Europe good examples of this include Jerry Collins and Carl Hayman who would probably be first choice players for the All Blacks if they were playing at home.

When I look to what 2012 holds for SANZAR I actually fear for the future of rugby in the region. If you think the post-2007 migration was big, you will be shocked at the amount of first choice international players who will be leaving. How will this affect the already dwindling TV audiences and match attendances? probably not positively.

I would like to end this article on a positive note but frankly, I can’t think of much to say other than “Someone save Southern Hemisphere Rugby!”.


  • The same was said before 1999, 2003, 2007 RWC… Overseas clubs are sure to get a glut of talented Southern stars but the reality is the next generation stand up.

  • Comment 1, posted at 29.06.10 10:54:56 by Oubaas2009 Reply
    SportbillyVodacom Cup player
  • @Oubaas2009 (Comment 1) : no, the post-2007 exodus was the worst there was, it will only get worse.

  • Comment 2, posted at 29.06.10 10:57:55 by war1 Reply
    war1Super Rugby player
  • SANZAR is going to go bankrupt. Crowds are already dwindling, what will happen when more stars leave? It will become worse!

  • Comment 3, posted at 29.06.10 10:59:43 by war1 Reply
    war1Super Rugby player
  • Very good article war1!

  • Comment 4, posted at 29.06.10 11:36:10 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • The problem is an economic one, the solution therefore needs to be one too.

    And remember, value is not only measured in numbers.

  • Comment 5, posted at 29.06.10 11:40:40 by Morné Reply
    MornéTeam captain
  • I believe the main reason players are leaving is because of money. What they earn in a week in the UK probably covers their monthly earnings in the Southern Hemisphere. National selection is another BIG problem SARU are facing; 3 excellent hookers not even selected for the Boks, but a replacement franchise hooker gets selected instead??!! Why would you want to keep playing here if national selection is off the table? Rather go overseas for a few years and retire early.

    What I think would be a nice addition to our rugby season, is a once off game between the winners of Super Rugby and the Heineken Cup winners. I’m not sure if Super rugby is popular overseas, but this game could be one way of showcasing how superior our game is and could entice European players into playing for a Southern hemisphere team for a year or two.

  • Comment 6, posted at 29.06.10 11:41:47 by hungrybeaver Reply

    hungrybeaverAcademy recruit
  • @wpw (Comment 4) : thanks :oops: i try

  • Comment 7, posted at 29.06.10 11:44:14 by war1 Reply
    war1Super Rugby player
  • The Northern Hemisphere guys embraced professionalism a bit, now just coz they’ve got a bit (actually a LOT) more money the South suffers

  • Comment 8, posted at 29.06.10 11:47:23 by war1 Reply
    war1Super Rugby player
  • @Morné (Comment 5) : we could also say the product (super rugby and tri nations) has become a bit stale, the novelty has worn off and this is why something like the argies joining the tri nations is at least a positive

  • Comment 9, posted at 29.06.10 11:49:27 by war1 Reply
    war1Super Rugby player
  • @war1 (Comment 9) :

    The economic scope I am referring to includes the product, your market, investors and everything a normal company or organisation in the professional environment face when it comes to challenges.

    Problem is, rugby is largely not treated professionally as a business, which is where we fall short.

  • Comment 10, posted at 29.06.10 11:58:24 by Morné Reply
    MornéTeam captain
  • Afternoon all….i’ll save it War ‘what do you want me to do’ ?

  • Comment 11, posted at 29.06.10 17:36:16 by Hertford Highlander Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
    Hertford HighlanderSuper Rugby player
  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 11) : you’ve been scarce

  • Comment 12, posted at 29.06.10 17:39:57 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) :

    I have a variety of excuses ! :oops:

  • Comment 13, posted at 29.06.10 18:01:42 by Hertford Highlander Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition WinnerCompetition Winner Author
    Hertford HighlanderSuper Rugby player
  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 13) : are any of them any good?

  • Comment 14, posted at 29.06.10 23:10:48 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Two things will help save the SH game:
    Expand the Tri-Nations to include Argies and decrease S15 length.
    Ensure no foreign-based players represent their country.

    Not comprehensive fixes, but minimal actions to be taken.

  • Comment 15, posted at 30.06.10 00:21:19 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach

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