Super Rugby

Fans have spoken: 10 reasons Super Rugby is dead

Super Rugby trophy (Getty Images)
Super Rugby trophy (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Is Super Rugby really dead?

Sport24 editor Garrin Lambley wrote a column on Monday detailing why he believed that to be the case. 

Sport24 readers were asked to email their own reasons for the perceived demise of Super Rugby.

The response was overwhelming, and it is clear that South African Super Rugby fans have had enough. 

Below a list of the 10 most common reasons (from the many, many more) that were submitted.  

1. Ticket prices

This was a problem that many Sport24 fans voiced, particularly those with families.

"There are so many sponsors in the game currently, from DHL to SAB and many in between but none of them seem to get the fact that, especially in South Africa, tickets are expensive. The reason why we are seeing so many clubs and regions (Border financial woes, Bulls financial woes) is that ticket sales have slipped," writes Ethan White.

Llewelyn says: "If they made them cheaper then more people would come, simple. Offer discounts too and rather fill up the ground."

Jacques du Preez says he spends over R400 to travel to one game, which includes tickets, food, parking and petrol. He adds that he cannot afford to go to every game.

2. 'It's just not rugby anymore'

Kobus Conradie writes: "It is a bastardised version of Rugby League. Two opposing rows of defenders simply isn't rugby. I long for the old days where the running game was done by the backline, and the forwards all piled into a ruck to try and win the ball. Today's game is such a pile of crap I don’t bother to watch any more. The maul from a lineout is the epitome of insanity. It's organised obstruction, which you're not allowed to defend. And scoring 3 points from a penalty when an opposing prop forward slips... What rubbish?"

Grant Callaway says: "The foolish thought was that changing rules to promote running rugby would make the game more attractive. We don't want Rugby League! Rugby is supposed to be a mix of strengths and variety of battles - not a row of 15 identical players!"

3. The rules/laws

In addition to the above reasoning, some fans believe that World Rugby needs to "sharpen the rules and slim them down".

Daniel Caplan says that the laws are too complicated: "Often the blast of the whistle takes me by surprise and I'm left wondering what the infringement was. Simplify laws where possible, e.g. use short arm free kicks, to be taken quickly, for technical infringements and long arm penalty’s only for foul play or repeated or professional fouling."

"Rugby is the only sport where the rules depend of the individual officiating. This is ridiculous. Laws should be the same (predicable and consistent) whoever the referee is and regardless of what hemisphere the match is in."

Johan Botha agreed: "I understand that players have died and scrums and tackling in the air are perhaps the most dangerous in that regard, but it seems refs, linesmen and tv refs are at times ignoring blatant mistakes. The scrum rules I simply don't understand? When is turning the scrum right and when is it wrong? I played rugby 35 years ago at school and enjoyed every minute of it. I am not a fanatic, just a fan of the game, but even if I buy a rule book tomorrow I am sure I will get lost in it - the refs certainly are."

4. The referee standards

This was one of the main reasons that came up from the fans that emailed us.

Shaun Koen thinks that the referees should be accountable for bad decisions: "Refs should be punished for getting it wrong. And fans want to hear about the punishment. If a ref makes a shit call and a team loses because of the shit call it could cost a union and the players a lot of money because they could now be missing out on hosting a semi or a final because of log points they missed out on."

However, Coetzee van der Merwe reckons that the SA teams are punished harder by certain referees: "Publish the amounts of yellow and red cards per country per offense, per referee and the world can see how SA teams are consistently punished harder."

5. The predictability 

Jerome Brink writes that one of the major problems with Super Rugby - and he adds the Rugby Championship - is how predictable it is.

"Basically, that the winner WILL be one of the 4 NZ teams and we just going through the motions," notes Brink.

"The ongoing results are very predictable too. Creates for a seriously average product. Any sport's popularity will take a dip when one team/country just completely dominates. Oz derbies are rubbish, Oz v NZ is pointless as only NZ teams win, just by how much and RSA v NZ is not much different if we honest." 

6. Stadium atmosphere

Many said that there is not enough done to get people to the stadium and that, at the stadium, there's just no atmosphere whatsoever.

"The stadiums play the same outdated music, use the same half time entertainment routines and use no imagination for their pre and post-match functions. Give people a reason to go even if the match is bland," writes Kevin.

Llewelyn offers some suggestions: "Play some classic and some newer good music please. They need someone to hype up the crowd and get them involved, get the 'kiss cam' going and have great prizes at half time. Getting feedback from fans would be a start."


In order to watch Super Rugby, rugby fans in South Africa need to subscribe to DSTV. Some fans acknowledged that only being able to watch Super Rugby on SuperSport is a problem and claimed that they cannot afford to pay each month for rugby.

"In order to watch Super 15, I have to pay a fortune each month to DSTV. As an average Joe in the street, I cannot afford it," writes Allan Cawood.

Jeremy told us that he almost cancelled his DSTV but stuck to it, because of the cricket.

8. Player drain

The player exodus has been a major problem in SA rugby of late with several players plying their trade abroad. 

"Most of our good players have gone to Europe so we end up watching the B graders fresh out of high school. We can never compete with NZ teams as our best players leave for the mighty Euro every year," says Stephen

Jacques Mouton says he wants to see the top players in action.

"We are losing great players to overseas franchises that can pay our guys what they actually deserve. We have some of the best school rugby in the world and when a lot of our players get to a certain age they receive offers to play and study overseas," writes the Rugby Guy.

9. Ignoring the fans!

There were many responses saying that SA rugby and particularly some SA franchises simply didn't care about their fans anymore.

"In the past I took my son to watch the game and after the match would go onto the field to get his jersey signed or take a picture with some players. But lately they announce there will be no meeting of players. I mean that is one of the reason I go to the stadium. If you treat your loyal supporters like that on your home ground no wonder you will only get 18 000 fans for a stadium that can house well over 40 000," said Rupert de Wee.

"Make players more accessible. Have more meet and greet autograph sessions at malls for example where kids, in controlled fashion, can shake hands with their hero's and get an item signed. Fans will identify with the players more and be more willing to support," writes Daniel.

10. Demise of SA Rugby

According to some fans, it's not just Super Rugby, it's South African rugby as a whole - including the Springboks.

"SA's weak, feeble SR teams have simply been making up the numbers in SR for the past seven winless years. This coincides exactly with the regression of the laughable National team," said Nigel Evans.

"To many years of poor performances by SA teams, has ultimately made the average supporter gatvol of watching us lose or play a mediocre brand," writes Jacques.

Adrian Jordan suggests: "Resurrect the Currie Cup by playing it every 2 years alternative to Super Rugby. This will make it an event to look forward too and make sure the best players are playing."

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