To get anywhere in the Super Rugby competition, a successful tour of South Africa is essential. The Brumbies have just returned from a successful tour, taking away 7 points from 2 matches, while the Reds didn’t win a match. That’s cost them dearly on the table, and the Waratahs stand to miss out on the finals altogether if they can’t turn around their form in the Rainbow Nation. The trip to South Africa has traditionally been a struggle for Australian teams. The travel, the stadiums, and the crowds all combine to make victories over there as rare as hen’s teeth. The tour is difficult and it’s meant to be. If a team is going to win the competition it should be able to win on its tour.The question is – If touring is tough are South African teams at a disadvantage having to travel to Australasia for an entire month? The history of Super Rugby seems to suggest exactly this, with the vast majority of winners coming from New Zealand and Australia. With South African teams having poor statistics when they travel is South Africa justified in complaining about the inherent bias in the Super Competition?
Whatever the Northern Hemisphere may say, the Super competition is the toughest provincial competition in the world. The tiniest disadvantage may be the difference for a side, and so, if there are different tour lengths between the nations, the Super rugby competition should be viewed as inherently biased towards Australasian teams. Although we often hear about the disagreements between the SANZAR countries (at the moment about the introduction of the Southern Kings) are South Africa’s complaints about this issue justified and should something be done to even out the Super competition?
It appears very little can be done to amend this bias. South Africa has to tour here if they want to play in the Super competition and, aside from moving Australia into the Indian Ocean, their tours will always be longer. It’s an intractable problem of Super rugby.
What this touring issue highlights is the delicate nature of the SANZAR alliance. SANZAR has done well to create the Super competition and now the Rugby Championship. These are the strongest provincial and international competitions in world rugby. It’s no coincidence every World Cup, bar one, has been won by a Tri-nations team. However issues such as touring and the introduction of the Southern Kings always threaten to break apart this successful relationship. All three nations are richer for playing against each other. Although completely unlikely, the disintegration of SANZAR would make the global game a lot poorer. For this sake all three need to accept the difficulties the others face.
Besides, I like staying up late for the South African cheerleaders.