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Is Super Rugby Biased?

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.

::Ewen Hollingsworth


One thought on “Is Super Rugby Biased?

  1. This world cup has been brilliant for the mnwoins’. It’s about time the IRB and Big 8 Nations let them take part in world rugby more than just letting them make up the numbers once every 4 years.Georgia, Namibia, Romania, USA, Canada, Samoa, Portugal etc have all done brilliantly well and it was such a shame Georgia didn’t beat Ireland. How good would that have been.It’s time to expand the tri nations and 6 nations. Currently there is a 6 nations b tournament for teams like Georgia, Romania, Portugal, Russia etc compete in but that’s as far as they are allowed to go. Why not expand the 6 Nations to 8 Nations and have a playoff every year between the last placed team in the 8 Nations and the Top team in the 8 Nations b. While we are at it get the USA and Canada involved. They are northern hemisphere nations after all. Maybe have Georgia and Canada in the 8 Nations A and add USA to 8 Nations B. The USA and Canada are about to set up a north American professional league anyway. Having them in the 6 nations set up would increase the profile of rugby there and help turn them into true professionals. They would also bring some great fans to the event. I was at the Canada v Fiji game today in Cardiff and it was full of Canadian rugby fans. They love it!Argentina have to play in the Tri Nations. It looks like they will reach the 1/2 finals of the Rugby World Cup and from there who knows. It’s a crime they have not been asked to join already and I don’t think SANZAR will every let them or anyone else as they want all the money for themselves. Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Japan must also be involved in the Tri Nations and Super 14 as well.In Europe we need to set up a European League to replace the Guinness Premiership, Celtic League, French Top 14, Italian Super 10 and Heineken Cup with all the clubs split into different conferences (like American Footballs NFL) Less games but of Higher quality (just look how poor the 6 Nations have been in this World Cup and it’s easy to see our domestic Leagues are not helping us) Also allow Georgia, Romania, Portugal, Russia etc to enter 1 professional franchise each into the Euro League.Come on IRB and Big 8. Have the guts and give international rugby a kick up the backside!

    Posted by Anil | June 22, 2012, 2:43 AM


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