Let’s dump Sanzaar – Venter

Brendan Venter

Super Rugby is set to undergo significant changes to its structure and the general consensus is that the Southern Kings and Cheetahs are the two South African teams destined to be knocked out of the competition.

I simply don’t believe it’s fair to base a decision around past statistics. In my opinion, it’s completely the wrong line of thinking. I would argue that it’s not what you have done before that counts, because that’s not how relegation should work. It’s all about how you perform in the present. A team’s value to Super Rugby should be determined by how competitive they are now.

The Kings are displaying a definite upward curve in terms of performance – they pushed the Sharks close in their last encounter – and head coach Deon Davids is doing a really good job with the Port Elizabeth-based franchise.

Meanwhile, Franco Smith is someone whom I have been impressed with in my interactions with him. He is creating a winning culture in Bloemfontein and is aiming to build on their Currie Cup success. We shouldn’t be so sure that it will be the Kings and Cheetahs who will be cut because, with Sanzaar yet to announce its decision, it could be someone else that gets pulled.

For my money, the franchises that fail to perform and finish on the bottom of their respective conferences should be axed for a year. They will then play in a second-tier competition where they will have an opportunity to earn promotion to Super Rugby. The objective of the Currie Cup – in South Africa’s case – would see the top four-placed teams qualify to compete at Super Rugby level.

There is no denying that Super Rugby has become a rather cumbersome competition since I last played for the Stormers in 2000. At that point in history, the tournament was known as the Super 12 and New Zealand was represented by five teams, South Africa four and Australia three. The round-robin format made far more sense than the current conference system, which doesn’t enhance the product, and interest was piqued as the play-off battles ensured a strength-versus-strength scenario.

While the short-term solution for South Africa is to remain part of Super Rugby because there is a broadcast deal in place until 2020, I would urge SA Rugby to explore the option of joining a northern hemisphere competition at some point.

With SA Rugby serving as the primary funder of Sanzaar, we can no longer afford to have a situation whereby the tail wags the dog and we subsidise other organisations.

SA Rugby possesses the resources and must make use of their clout going forward. I don’t agree with the notion that we should be helping to build rugby in Argentina and Japan through a structure which we largely fund. I don’t believe it’s our problem to solve and from my point of view enough has already been done in order to develop rugby in those regions.

The Sunwolves should be in a competition with Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Australasian teams owing to sharing similar time zones. And the perfect bet would be for South African teams to head north.

If it was up to me, I wouldn’t think twice. Moreover, with confirmation of a global season from 2020 onwards, we could potentially see the north and south clash in a mini-world tournament at the end of the season. The proposed plan would excite me as a rugby lover and it would represent the best of both worlds for SA rugby.

The 1995 Rugby World Cup-winner has enjoyed an illustrious playing and coaching career. He proved highly successful during his time as Saracens’ director of rugby and guided the Sharks to Currie Cup triumph in 2013. Venter now practises as a medical doctor, is a technical consultant to London Irish and served as Italy’s defence coach during the Six Nations. Follow him on Twitter: @BrendanVenter

- Brendan Venter

Let's chat

  • Messer

    Awesome Brendan! Couldn’t agree more , would be so nice to not have to listen to whinging and whining Australians!!!

    • Stanley

      I would miss the NZ teams with their skills and all

  • George

    4 top teams from Currie Cup suggestion will only work if the Springbok Players are available for the ENTIRE Currie Cup season, which never happen again.

    A 2 Tier system is the most logical with extra teams from the Pacific Islands included. Its just weird that nobody in charge seems to think the same.

  • Darren

    I would rather see Sa teams playing teams from and in England and France, joining the Heineken Cup. Time difference better, travel times better, it makes sense. Super 18 is boring mostly and stale, and the conference system makes no sense at all.

    • Rod Jarman

      But do they want to travel 11 hours south to play us ???

    • Hayden

      Stale is watching how poor South African teams are as soon as they board a plane. Is this really going to improve with a 12hr flight to London?

  • Frankie Knuckles

    SA Rugby doesn’t even have the resources to get rid of its underperforming and clearly out of his depth national coach.
    Where are these alleged funds when they are REALLY needed???
    YOU need to be coaching our national side, we all know it, and we can’t get rid of Allister because apparently SA Rugby cannot afford it… But we know the real reason…
    So do we have the money?
    Don’t we have the money?
    Do we?
    Don’t we?
    I’m starting to understand why so many at that former province of yours are switching allegiance to the All Blacks.
    Tired of the bull. Tired of being lied to. Tired of this national obsession with rewarding mediocrity. As an expat South African in New Zealand, I DREAD Saturday’s….. More embarrassing thrashings of SA “Super” Rugby sides by NZ teams.

  • Anton Desi

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Te Super Rugby competition is now in the “flogging a dead horse” scenario and it’s time to change it up. It is also, IMHO, a drain on the confidence and innovation of South African players. Being constantly battered by NZ teams doesn’t serve our purposes at all. We were never a stronger force than when we looked to ourselves for our playing style and strengths. Nowadays too many of SA’s coaches are all trying to emulate NZ teams style of play with disastrous results. We are not kiwis we are Africans and it’s about time we returned to playing like Africans!! Who cares about whether or not others like it as a style it was always so effective and MORE importantly … it was OURS!! Let’s bring back the fear and respect for the mighty Bok by rediscovering the beauty of being an African!

  • Rod Jarman

    Why should the Northern teams want to play us,
    Why should they fly 11 hours south for a game
    We need them, but it will never come to pass

    • Jon Low

      Quite right. The North don’t need SA. And travel to SA would just be a burden and a cost to them. There’d be nothing really to learn from SA, rugby-wise, from a country whose rugby is outdated, formulaic and stale. It’s a complete dead letter.

  • Jay August

    Makes way more sense and will garner more interest here given all the Safa’s playing in Europe/UK. Only question is what is in it for Europe clubs, more money from TV rights?

  • Izak J de Villiers

    Agree totally even though a connection to the Northerns will not necessarily be on from their side.New Zeeland is the culprit because they have too big a supply of talent from the other islands. I f these countries can have their own competitions all the rugby talent of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga will not flock to New Zeeland for employment. The All Blacks and all the Super Rugby teams are a fraud – I would rather call the All Blacks the Pacific Express and the strength of each Super Rugby team lies in the whole Pacific area. No other country has such an unnatural source of talent available. Most counties use internationals from other countries but New Zeeland gets the cream of the Pacific. It will be good to be rid of New Zeeland they are a fake country pulling
    us down and discarding the Cheetahs and the Kings will harm SA rugby immensely.

    • Jon Low

      In the last two world cup tournaments, NZ has fielded no more than 4 Pacific Island-born players in the 31 man All Black squad. Contrast that with Samoa, whose 31 squad members included 22 who were born in New Zealand!

  • piet de jager

    Anyone can “talk” a good game or structures.
    Dynamics on the field is completely different if the boardroom babes are not rugby people.

    One thing I’ve seen in rugby from u/11 to Super serues level.

    You can have a brilliant coach, best players in the world, but eventually its the boardroom battles which win.

    We can analyze, sympathize, economise and politicize, we’ll get nowhere at the rate we are managing the game, the structures around it and the influence the decision makers exert onto coaches and players.

    It’s time for sound business acumen, implemented by astute business people with superior rugby knowledge to get involved or take over SA Rugby…we are going nowhere slowly in a hurry.

    Thanks for your input Brenda, but these guys who are in charge will not let you do your work…

    Good luck, may rugby be the wonner in the end!

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