Super Rugby

Skinstad: Stupid decisions have led to Super Rugby’s demise

Bob Skinstad (Gallo Images)
Bob Skinstad (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former Springbok captain Bob Skinstad reckons the current Super Rugby product has become obsolete.

"I think Super Rugby went off the rails because there’s no understanding of the 'less is more' concept. Super Rugby’s (top brass) think more is more... It's stupid," Skinstad said in an interview with Netwerk24.

The Super Rugby tournament has copped flak in recent times, with many fans and pundits not impressed with the number of teams and the conference system.

The competition was reduced from 18 to 15 teams for the 2018 edition, with South Africa’s Cheetahs and Southern Kings and Australia’s Western Force removed from the fray.

But the conference system remained in the 15-team 2018 edition and there are talks that more changes could occur in future seasons.

Skinstad, who was speaking at this past weekend’s Cape Town Sevens where he was an ambassador for sponsors HSBC, said he liked the old Super 12 format.

"When I say 'less is more' I’m referring to a product that is of a high quality throughout," the 42-year-old, who played 42 Tests for the Springboks between 1997 and 2007, added.

Skinstad, who is currently based in England, used the World Rugby Sevens Series and Europe's Six Nations as examples of products that are able to attract large crowds.

"You don’t play sevens rugby every weekend and in the Six Nations the teams only play each other once a year. I liked Super 12 because the teams played each other once - either home or away."

A recent report indicated that SANZAAR, the southern hemisphere's rugby governing body, was considering reverting back to a 14-team Super Rugby competition and doing away with the tournament's conference system from 2021.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Sunwolves are the team in the firing line as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina battle to reach consensus about a tournament format which suits all unions.

However, SANZAAR was quick to refute the claims, dismissing it as speculative.

"The recent reports in the media around the next iteration of the Super Rugby tournament are nothing more than speculative. As a business we are presently looking at our future competition structures from 2021 onwards, a matter that has been widely reported in the media. We have not reached any definitive decisions around our future competition including the number of teams that will participate in the future structure," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said.

"We will continue to engage with our stakeholders specifically the national unions (Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) and our broadcasters, as we plan ahead for the future and the next broadcast cycle that commences in 2021. If there are any changes to our structure we will communicate this at the appropriate time."

Marinos said earlier this year that all options were on the table as the organisation seeked a vision to take Super Rugby to 2030.

No details were released but one possibility was reportedly a 20-team, four-conference format featuring at least one US side.

Super Rugby began as the Super Six in 1986, then became Super 10 when South Africa re-entered the rugby world in 1993.

When the newly formed SANZAR (without Argentina) took control in 1996 it became Super 12, then a decade later it was Super 14, and Super 15 in 2011.

It featured 18 teams and a conference system in 2016 and 2017 before being scaled back to 15 sides this year.

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