No rush to fix Super Rugby – Marinos

One way to check whether anyone at Sanzaar is at the office is for the media to report changes to the Super Rugby competition before they’ve been officially confirmed.

“We have not reached any definitive decisions around our future competition,” Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos said in a Sanzaar press release on Tuesday.

This came in response to reports that the game’s Southern Hemisphere partners had discussed a handful of options in November during a visit to Dublin for a World Rugby meeting.

According to said reports, Super Rugby may revert to a 14-team, round robin competition in 2021 – at the expense of the Sunwolves – when the current broadcast deal expires. This would eliminate the disastrous conference system which only benefitted those teams in the same group as the Sunwolves, and whoever’s turn it was not to play the Crusaders or Hurricanes each season.

“The recent reports in the media around the next iteration of the Super Rugby tournament are nothing more than speculative,” added Marinos. “As a business we are presently looking at our future competition structures from 2021 onwards. We have not reached any definitive decisions around our future competition including the number of teams that will participate in the future structure.

“We will continue to engage with our stakeholders, specifically the national unions (Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) and our broadcasters, as we plan ahead for the future and the next broadcast cycle that commences in 2021.

“If there are any changes to our structure we will communicate this at the appropriate time.”

Some would argue that the appropriate time to communicate restorative measures passed in 2011 when nothing was done to reverse the switch to a conference system that many warned would be a disaster, but Sanzaar appear to be in no rush to retain what remains of their audience with assurances that there are fail-safe plans afoot to restore Super Rugby to its former glory.

History suggests that Sanzaar is short-sighted and ostensibly out to make a quick buck at any cost. That would explain the way Super Rugby has been driven into the ground over the past decade as Sanzaar has flattened the audience in a mad drag race to give broadcasters as much rugby content as possible – even when that meant adding a “Japanese” franchise that fielded foreign nationals and played a chunk of their matches in Singapore.

There’s no precedent for a quartet of partners co-piloting a professional sports league from opposite ends of the globe, especially now that ubiquitous live-streaming has negated the original novelty of Super Rugby’s unique appeal – watching the likes of the Sharks battle their Antipodean rivals in Wellington at 9am on a Friday morning.

Sanzaar’s eagerness to cater for cash-flush broadcasters has led to the decimation of Super Rugby’s once-fervent audience, at the stadiums and in front of the telly. And, with the writing on the wall, South Africa showed great agility to hastily connect with Europe through the Pro14, while rugby in Australia may again be rescued by a businessman in the form of billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest and his rebel Indo-Pacific league.

— Staff Writer

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer

Let's chat

  • Sharky

    These guys are probably just a little worried that more SA teams are going to start heading north. And to be honest, they should be!! The SANZAAR management missed a golden opportunity to expand Super Rugby properly – into Asia, America, and Canada – a few years ago before the Cheetahs and Kings jumped ship (read: were pushed off the plank). How? But creating a two tier, 20 team league – a “premier” league with the top 10 teams and a “First Division” with another 10 teams. That would give everyone everything – a reduced-size, strength-versus-strength Super 10 and a foray into developing markets. Sure, it would mean that some Aussie, SA and (God forbid) NZ sides may be shunted into the lower tier, but the increase interest in an improved top tier format could facilitate development subsidies to the teams in the lower tier. Hell, after time there could even be a third tier!

    • nezo

      this is what we need. solutions. well done Sharky. lets here more solutions

    • Jay

      This is what I have been saying for years ….or at least many many months. So glad to see someone else believe the same thing.

      Super Rugby should be just that…the cream of the crop competing against each other for the world’s best title. It should not be just another competition everyone is guaranteed to play in, that is what their local competitions are for.

      A two or even three tier system would allow for expansion into lower markets and still allow for a strength vs strength competition which ultimately is what every rugby fan is after.

      True it may take some time for the premier league to see any changes by the lower teams coming through but with enough investment (financial and intellectual property) who knows, we might see a team from Georgia or Fiji competing in a super rugby tournament. Now would that not be cool!

      • nezo

        i like the way that you guys are thinking. what a breath of fresh air.

    • Barry

      agreed Sharky they seems to move from one bumbled change to the next! Most of the decisions seem to be broadcaster driven and with cash in mind rather than rugby per se.
      South Africa continue to be treated like the poor cousen and our administrators seem not able to do much about it.
      To my mind the major injustice remains the imbalance in travel! The only way to address this is to reduce the top tier to a Super 8, with four teams in SA and four from The Antipodes. In this way all will have the same travel exposure! The way that it is structured at the moment, we have prescious little chance of winning and that is why interest is dwindling!

  • Dean

    They could do a similar competition structure to the Pro 14 where you have 2 equally strong groups. Then the winners of those groups play quarter-final, semi-final and final. That’s the only way to have home and away. Even with 14 teams competing with home and away, it will still be a very long competition.

  • Herman Schroder?

    For what it’s worth Each country plays domestic rugby under the Super Rugby banner, in our case a ‘real’ CC competition with each country producing two top teams. This may be modified for Argentina to one team and NZ given three teams. The eight teams then play each other home and away with the top four qualifying for the semi’s. ( No QF’s )

    In our case its 6 matches in the CC then a bye weekend for all followed by 7 round robin games, then a bye for all teams followed by the 7 remaining matches. That’s 20 matches over 22 Saturdays plus a possible semi and final to total 22 matches max over the 24 weeks. If this was played next year the season would have to start on 26th January and finish on the 6 July 2019. The season finishes on 7th July according to next years revised fixture list anyway. The early start could be a problem but teams are playing friendlies and touring in that time so might as well make it a meaningful test to prepare for SR proper.

    The only problem is what do the rest do ? Stormers and Bulls to play in the Vodacom Cup, Lol. Cheers.

    • SweetAz

      LOL, if this was next year the Sharks and WP contested the Currie Cup Final and would have been in that eight,—not sure where the Lions came but it wasn’t one or two. Amazing how you denigrate the CC competition because the Lions can’t win it but then suddenly embrace it as a solution to Super Rugby. It must be helluva confusing to be you, not sure whether you’re Arfa or Marfa.
      Altzheimers or Parkinsons?

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