The EP Kings have been promised Super Rugby from 2013 onwards, as we are all aware, but what this leaves us with is speculation as to how exactly this will happen. It’s now been a few months since this announcement/promise was made, and still we are left scratching our heads.
The uncertainty around the Kings’ inclusion and potential exclusion of another South African franchise has dominated each article that remotely relates to local talent, the Kings or even the Lions. I do not blame supporters of either the Kings or Lions though, as SARU are yet to make a final decision and each of these two teams are left hoping for the best.
I mention the Lions purely because they are, and will most likely be, the wooden spoonist in the South African conference, but for politically correctness, I should include the Cheetahs in this discussion as well, as one of the options remain that these two feline franchises join forces, as they have previously, and form the Cats, version 2.0.
Let me begin by stating my opinion on this matter. From a business point of view, the Kings do not stand a chance of being involved in the Super Rugby competition next year. With contracts signed until 2015, and sponsorship deals signed on the assumption that said contract until 2015 will be honoured, there is too big a financial burden to simply drop either of the current franchises. In my mind, this whole debacle will blow over and we will see the same teams taking part in Super Rugby next year.
Looking towards a long term solution, not only for the current Kings dilemma, but also considering the current format and how it simply is not working, something will need to be done by the men involved to save this competition from becoming ridiculous. A few weeks ago, the Brumbies were sitting in third spot thanks to their automatic play-off rule, but based on points could not even make the top 6. This has since changed slightly, with the Brumbies winning more games and now actually deserving of a spot in the top 6, but not certain of any home play-off.
The fact is simply that the local derbies are killing this competition, and we see that every Saturday morning, how the New Zealand games attract a decent South African viewership, only for the Australian derbies to be watched only by old people who are not allowed to drive anymore and have nothing better to do than fall asleep to a rugby match.
My solution, although very simplistic, is to open the competition up to as many teams as they can find who would like to take part, have a preliminary round of matched, per conference, which would then determine the Top 3 or Top 4 per nation, and these teams will then face each other in a Super 9 or Super 12 competition. It might extend the competition somewhat, or if the preliminary round robin matches are only once off matches and not home and away as we see currently, it might even reduce the length of the tournament.
That would then save us all the trouble of deciding whether the Kings deserve to be in the competition, and each team will then have their destiny in their own hands. The quality of rugby in the Super 9 or Super 12 will be so much greater, that we will all want to sit and watch every single match of every single weekend. Let’s be honest, when last did you really want to watch every game on a weekend?
This solution might do harm to our beloved Currie Cup, but in reality, the harm to our Currie Cup is already done, and with the amount of times teams face each other in Super Rugby, are we really going to get excited for a Bulls/Sharks Currie Cup clash?
Super Rugby was a fantastic idea, created by a rugby genius in Louis Luyt, but if something is not done to curb the current problems, both internally and externally, this once fantastic campaign might just become another run-of-the-mill competition.Tweet