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Thread: Super Rugby at the crossroads, says former All Black Jeremy Thrush

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    Super Rugby at the crossroads, says former All Black Jeremy Thrush

    Thrush getting stuck into super rugby and talking up World Series Rugby and Andrew Forrest's vision.

    Super Rugby at the crossroads, says former All Black Jeremy Thrush
    19:07, June 19 2018

    HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES
    Jeremy Thrush played 11 tests for the All Blacks between 2013-15.

    Former All Black Jeremy Thrush feels Super Rugby is at the crossroads, and he hopes World Series Rugby will help freshen it up.

    WSR was launched by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest after the Western Force were unceremoniously axed by Rugby Australia last year.

    In total, three sides were axed from Super Rugby, but the competition's future still remains up in the air due to flagging interest.

    The current broadcast deal runs until the end of the 2020, with the format of Super Rugby unknown beyond then.

    READ MORE:
    * SBW hopeful of test start
    * England can't afford to sack Jones
    * Finish the McKenzie project?

    Forrest has flagged the prospect of growing WSR so strong that sides from rival competitions like Super Rugby will want to join.

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    Thrush, who has been lured to the Force on a two-year deal, is excited about the future of WSR, which will expand into a proper competition next year.

    But he isn't so optimistic about Super Rugby.

    "I guess it's at a little bit of a crossroads the way it's going," Thrush said.

    "I feel it needs a bit of a freshen up somehow.

    "I guess if we're building this World Series Rugby here, and we can keep pushing it through, then maybe further down the line it (Super Rugby) might combine with what we're doing here, which would be great."

    Thrush will make his Force debut on Friday night when he lines up against the Crusaders at nib Stadium.

    The Crusaders sit on top of the Super Rugby ladder with a 12-2 record, but the defending champions will be missing their current All Blacks stars.

    The Force put up a good fight in their recent loss to the Melbourne Rebels, and Thrush says there's no reason why they can't topple the Crusaders.

    "I think there's chinks in any team's armour," Thrush said.

    Thrush played 110 games for the Hurricanes, and more recently has been plying his trade for English side Gloucester.

    It's not only him who has taken a keen interest in WSR.

    "My dad's been watching it back home in NZ," Thrush said.

    "He's been telling me to make sure I get my lungs right, because there's a fair bit of running, which I like."

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    Follow up opinion piece

    Jeremy Thrush is right, Super Rugby needs to sort itself out

    Aaron Goile 13:50, June 20 2018
    60

    RENEE MCKAY/GETTY IMAGES
    The Blues will attempt to get Super Rugby back up and running in style next Friday night.

    OPINION: Knock knock. Who's there? Super Rugby. Super Rugby who?

    Oh yeah, it still exists, that's right. Sigh.

    Unlike a football international window, where fans can't wait for their club league to resume, in amongst these enthralling June rugby tests sits this pesky little brother in the corner, counting down the days till he gets his turn back in the spotlight.

    Next Friday comes that time, when, groan in unison, the world's wackiest competition gets back underway - via none other than the Blues v Reds trivial pursuit at a hollow Eden Park.

    READ MORE:
    * Ex-AB's Super Rugby warning
    * 'Blunted' Bastareaud dropped
    * Reason: TMO fails ref on Fall
    * Jones 'pulling knives from back'


    Get pumped (well maybe the Blues will, again).

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    Sure, Sanzaar couldn't have foreseen those two teams would be sitting out of contention when making the draw. It wouldn't have taken too many geniuses to predict it, mind you.


    BRUCE LIM/PHOTOSPORT
    The defending-champion Crusaders would have been a more logical fit in the opening game on Super Rugby's resumption.

    If you want your 'amazing' product to re-enter the market with a bang, surely a more likely contender at season's start such as the Crusaders or Hurricanes should have been pencilled in for the opening match on resumption, to get fans re-energised and what not.

    Whatever, though. Your call.

    What the governing body have ensured, however, is, that a competition which features teams based in five countries, will resume in no less than six next weekend. What?

    Yep - Auckland, Brisbane, Suva, Canberra, Singapore, Durban and Buenos Aires are your hosts.

    Spare us.


    PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES
    Jeremy Thrush isn't too optimistic about the future of Super Rugby.

    Jeremy Thrush is right. The former All Black has just linked up with the Western Force for their World Series Rugby matches - the ones bankrolled by mining magnate Andrew Forrest - and isn't optimistic about the future of Super Rugby.

    "I guess it's at a little bit of a crossroads the way it's going," he said.

    "I feel it needs a bit of a freshen up somehow."

    And no Sanzaar, don't you dare think that means a green light to go to North America.


    PAUL KANE/GETTY IMAGES
    Andrew Forrest has set up World Series Rugby matches in Perth this year, which will transition into a full competition next season.

    Thrush is talking closer to home, where he hopes the exhibition matches of this year, which are set to morph next year into the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship, could potentially form a link with Super Rugby in future.

    Similar tones came last weekend from now-retired former Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, urging administrators to push for wholesale changes once the current broadcast deal expires in 2020.

    "Super Rugby has lost a lot of relevance in the Australian sporting landscape," he said. "People just aren't that interested in it any more. That's an issue.

    "Of course, results would help that, but I think the competition structure's become very confusing, the conference system.

    "I think it needs a pretty significant overhaul - rather than just shuffling a few things around - to become relevant again, because I don't think people really care about it, like they used to anyway."


    DAN MULLAN/GETTY IMAGES
    Stephen Moore is frank in his assessment of Super Rugby.

    It's a more Australian-take on things, but even here the engagement and patriotism has slid.

    The New Zealand derbies are what carries this thing, for their sheer quality of play and importance to a hotly-contested conference. But then coaches are on record saying they don't like them because of the toll it takes on their players.

    Then there's this 'All Blacks everything' mantra, which has shot the product in the foot anyway. Attend national camps, rest from two games - Super Rugby may as well be seen as more an interference, than a ladder to test footy.

    Sanzaar will say they did their bit by reducing this year's competition from 18 teams to 15, in a less-is-more idea. But more needs to be done around the format of this beast.

    At least with next season being a World Cup year, the competition will run uninterrupted with no inbound June tours. Hopefully a global season can be sorted soon because it's just too farcical having your competition stop as it's reaching its hot stage.

    Then sort out the conferences/playoffs nonsense. Travel and broadcast commitments are big considerations, but they hold too much sway.

    Punters like a fair playing field, and one which they can relate to, not which rewards mediocrity and hinders the better teams. Have your customer front of mind; get back to round robin.

    Once you sort that out, then we might trust your next moves.

    Stuff

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