Super Rugby

Dobson: Premature to pull plug on 'deteriorating' Super Rugby

Stormers coach John Dobson acknowledges that the quality of the Super Rugby product has deteriorated in recent years, but says that pulling the plug on the tournament would be "premature."

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With the 2020 edition of the tournament still suspended indefinitely in South Africa as the fight against the coronavirus continues, the future of what was an already struggling competition is even more uncertain presently. 

Sanzaar has agreed on a 14-team, non-conference structure for 2021, but what happens beyond that is still yet to be confirmed. 

Reports out of Australia and New Zealand have suggested that certain players and administrators are keen on making Super Rugby a trans-Tasman competition while a possible future for South African franchises in Europe also keeps gathering momentum. 

Sanzaar remain committed to including sides from all regions until 2030, but the tournament perhaps now more than ever is in the spotlight. 

"Those guys who are older will remember that when it started it was a trans-Tasman tournament," Dobson recalled during a video press conference on Monday. 

"I would suggest that when that tournament expanded to include South Africa it became a much bigger and better tournament. I remember the Super 10 which Transvaal won in 1993 under Kitch Christie and it became a really good tournament.

"That it's deteriorated over the last years is beyond doubt."

Dobson, like many others, believes that a simplified approach to the format would be beneficial. 

"If we think back to that period that lasted so long from about the mid-1990s up until the 2000s, it was a really good product. I think all of us would agree that first prize was Super 12: top four, semi-final, final, over by end of May, no break for incoming tours," he said.

"You had some availability of Springboks to the Currie Cup and those were our best seasons. You had that window then for tours and you could get bigger tours as well.

"I've got a horrible feeling that this cacophony is going to have some sway, but my understanding is that a deal is locked in and that there is Super Rugby in its current format for the foreseeable future," he continued.

"I think it would be premature for a complete plug pull, but if we could get back closer to something like we used to have, that would have real merit to me."

- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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