Jurie Roux agrees with most fans that the Super 12 was a great tournament, but the SA Rugby chief has revealed that revenue offered by broadcasters fueled unsustainable expansion.
“The ultimate competition probably was Super 12 and to be honest we should have probably never moved from it, but there were different reasons,” Roux told Supersport.
“I’m sad to say that a lot of (the expansion) was due to driving revenue, and there were some political decisions that drove the process. It has ended up being a competition that if we don’t change it, we will have serious issues.”
Those “political decisions” likely relate to the government interference which led to the forced inclusion of a Super Rugby franchise in the Eastern Cape and, as a result, the expansion of Super Rugby to an 18-team competition in 2016.
What was patently obvious to most other stakeholders from the outset finally dawned on broadcasters this year and Sanzaar, the tournament’s governing body, last week took the difficult decision to reverse the expansion process in 2018, with three teams – two from SA and one from Australia – set to be axed.
“On the back of broadcasters telling us that they’re not happy with the product, and that they want immediate change – or else we will have some contractual issues going forward – we had no choice but to look at (changing) the competition earlier than what we wanted to,” said Roux.
“We are now at a time where the economic reality of this country, the rugby economic reality of this country, says we cannot sustain six franchises. Look at the results and you’ll know that we can’t.”
The identity of the two relegated SA sides is set to be announced by the end of June.