Plans to expand Super 15 in 2016 when the current broadcasting contract comes to an end might be on the cards and SANZAR is weighing up their options whether to take Super Rugby global.
The United States and Japan might be two of the countries they are looking at to add to the Southern Hemisphere competition. SANZAR CEO Greg Peters told The Australian that Super Rugby in its present form is a pretty successful model, and they are not going to water it down.
In 2000 Italy was included in the then Five Nations and it hass helped them to become a bit more competitive on the international stage. In 2012 Argentina was added to the Tri Nations which became the Rugby Championship. Its also lifted their game, drawing against South Africa and giving New Zealand and Australia a hard time back home. Canada and the United States will also be competing in the Pacific Nations Cup this year.
I’ve always been one for the underdog and its great to see a country like Italy play a good game against New Zealand or Argentina or beating Australia, and it’s great that SANZAR is interested in developing countries like the United States and Japan – but at what expense? Super Rugby is already stretching over seven months starting in February and the final being played in August.
How many South African players got injured in the first few weeks of the competition? Super Rugby is already so demanding with the amount of games and travelling and then there is still a break to play a few internationals only to return a month later to play the last few games. The conference system lets you play our fellow countrymen twice, only for our teams to play Currie Cup and again face the same opposition in a home and away leg.
The current rugby season is so long that we can’t even take a break from the game. If I had my way, I would change the current format and propose a new format of 12 teams. Qualifying teams would be the semi finalists of their domestic leagues from the previous year. So, if you look at South African teams, they will go all out not only to be Currie Cup Champions but also to participate in the Super Rugby tournament the following year.
This sounds great for the top teams but what about the teams from Japan, USA and lets say the Kings? They will play in a second league and there will even be opportunity to add more countries like Argentina and Pacific Islands. Open up the Currie Cup to more teams just to make it a bit more interesting and give teams equal opportunity.
And instead of promotion/relegation play-offs, the two finalists of the second division replace the bottom finishers of the first division, you will be able to develop and give exposure to Japanese clubs like Suntory Sungoliath (current champions), Sanyo Wild Knights, Toshiba Brave Lupus and Kobe Steel Kobeco Steelers, USA clubs like Belmont Shore, NYAC, Aspen, San Francisco Golden Gate (last winners) and even Argentine clubs.
The sponsorships and the financial backing when including teams from the United States and Japan could be enormous and the viewership will grow tremendously, but again I ask what will be the implications when adding these teams? Is the motivation behind adding these teams really there to benefit the teams or will the money be the main attraction in this “global tournament”?Tweet