Super Rugby restructure

2014-05-08 00:00

THE absurdity of the earlier noises emanating from New Zealand and Australia that instead of continuing with the Sanzar alliance they would rather isolate South Africa, is now clearly evident by the structure of the new Super Rugby competition that will come into effect from 2016.

South Africa emerged as the big winner after the negotiations.

The country will now enter a sixth team and its players will travel far less overseas than they do at present, and the physical demands will be lower thanks to fewer derby games. South Africa, not New Zealand or Australia, delivers the greater number of viewers, who are the life blood of the Super series, without which it cannot survive. Until now the absence of a team from the Eastern Cape has been a severe headache for the South African Rugby Union (Saru).

Not only because of political pressure but also because the province has the potential to become a major asset of SA rugby.

It will also help Saru to develop South Africa’s player base, although many of the Eastern Cape players live in rural areas and compete on below-average rugby pitches.

Rugby will be the big winner if Saru and the Eastern Province Rugby Union launch a joint venture to uplift rugby there and enter a competitive team.

It remains an open question whether there are enough elite players in South Africa for Saru to enter six teams that will be competitive in the Super series.

It is clear from increasing injuries that there is a high demand for bigger groups of players.

A sixth team will result in less depth among players, although I believe that — based on good rugby reasons — the presence of an Eastern Cape team is non-negotiable — even if there are only five teams.

Saru has won the battle to introduce a sixth team.

The war to develop this into a showpiece has only just begun.

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