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Thread: Australia must prepare for single life after Super Rugby’s break-up

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    Australia must prepare for single life after Super Rugby’s break-up

    Australia must prepare for single life after Super Rugby’s break-up

    Wayne Smith
    10:00PM May 31, 2020

    “I’ve got a horrible feeling that this cacophony is going to have some sway.”

    And with that insightful comment, Stormers head coach John Dobson effectively summed up the situation in terms of South Africa’s survival in Super Rugby.

    He is right, of course. It has been a cacophony. It has been going on for years and, until now, it has been almost entirely Australian voices making the racket.

    “Ditch the South Africans from Super Rugby. Turn it into a trans-Tasman competition of some description,” came the chant.

    Now, as it happens, Australian voices don’t particularly matter in SANZAAR, or essentially anywhere in world rugby. It’s the sad fallout of the Wallabies slumping to No 7 in the world rankings.

    Once it was different, but now there are two SANZAAR partners, South Africa and New Zealand, that are ranked ahead of us, as the top two sides, and then four of the Six Nations teams: England, Ireland, France and Wales.

    For every notch on the global ranking ladder that Australia has fallen, its influence has dropped accordingly. But, happily, New Zealand is also starting to question Super Rugby’s future. And the Kiwis are always taken seriously.

    NZ Rugby and its five franchises are currently studying the Super Rugby model, and they too are beginning to question whether in a COVID-19 world in which international travel is so fraught with danger and obstacles, any competition spread across 14 time zones has any chance of survival.

    And even if somehow Super Rugby is able to rebound next season and restart in earnest, how quickly might it be shut down if there is a second or, maybe by that stage, third wave of the pandemic? It all becomes so problematic.

    We’ve all seen the difficulties rugby league has faced in getting the NRL reboot approved across NSW, Queensland, Victoria and New Zealand — four places who share pretty much the same view of the world. So now consider the variables for a competition spread across the globe.

    It may be, of course, that New Zealand’s solution to Super Rugby’s future is to not only jettison South Africa but Australia as well. Certainly, there seems to be as much support across the ditch for an entirely domestic Kiwi competition, one not relying on any outsiders.

    The reasons for that have everything to do with geography. If South Africa was in Australia’s position — that is, located directly across the Tasman from New Zealand — the Kiwis would have not a problem staging a Super Rugby competition with them. Maybe throw in Japan and one of the Pacific Island nations, just to give it some international spicing.

    But, essentially, they would be happy just butting heads with the South Africans on a weekly basis.

    Sadly, geography has let them down. It’s not Dobson’s Stormers straight across the ditch but Rob Penney’s Waratahs and Brad Thorn’s Reds. They don’t particularly rate the Aussies, our Kiwi cousins. And if the coronavirus and the shrinking Super Rugby crowds force them to ditch the competition, then they are just as likely to organise an all-New Zealand comp as they are to buddy-up with their Anzac mates.

    In that event, Rugby Australia must grow some cojones and be prepared to back itself. If New Zealand does not want to play with us, then Australia has to be prepared to go it alone. That’s what makes this year’s Super Rugby reboot so absolutely vital.

    It could well be a dress rehearsal for 2021 and perhaps beyond, although at some point surely fans on both sides of the Tasman will start to complain that their world has shrunk way too much.

    Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. There is no question that contact with New Zealand fuelled the growth of Queensland in the 1970s and, in turn, led to the establishment of the South Pacific Championship, which then morphed into the Super Six before becoming, at the dawn of professionalism, the Super 10.

    There’s also no doubt in many people’s eyes that a go-it-alone Australian competition would be taking the “back to grassroots” campaign to extremes, and it surely is not the preferred option. But Australia cannot allow itself to be used as a doormat. If that means backing off to rebuild before coming again, then so be it.

    And spare a thought for the South Africans in all of this. Crowd figures in this country might have spelt it out pretty clearly that Australians did not relate to the South African teams. But it was hardly one-sided. There were scores of matches staged in the republic where the Australian sides struggled to draw a crowd.

    Yet just because South Africa is no longer regarded as the sexy, unknown opponent it was back in the 1990s, when it had just emerged from decades of international boycotts against its apartheid policies, it has always played a central role over a quarter century of Super Rugby. Australia has won four titles to South Africa’s three, though collectively we can’t even match the Crusaders’ tally of 10 wins.

    The Super Rugby marriage is coming to an end, not because of any culpable infidelity on anyone’s part but simply because we have all grown in different directions. Even relatively amicable divorces are painful, and Australia needs to show some sensitivity in the break-up. Besides, everyone has to keep up appearances for the sake of the children — The Rugby Championship.

    The TRC — and, yes, I am aware there are two “the”s hidden in there, but how else are we supposed to abbreviate it? — is one thing SANZAAR got right. Arguably, it is the only thing they got right. Perhaps, had they put the time and attention into Super Rugby that they poured into the TRC, it might not have come to this.

    Now, amid the cacophony, as Dobson calls it, the property settlement is being thrashed out. Visitation rights are also proving an issue. No one knows for certain when they will be able to visit the other. But the end is inevitable and it is fast approaching.

    Whether Australia goes it alone from here or in company with New Zealand, we can always look back on our days with South Africa and smile.

    Just a little wistfully.

    Wayne Smith
    Senior Sport Writer

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...5ae80cddcf4cc6

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    If as Wayne Smith is speculating, that international travel problems because of COVID19 could linger into 2021 and even 2022, then it would lead to the demise of Super rugby, then it could also spell problems for our GRR plans as well.
    Perhaps GRR needs to focus on getting a second Australian side and make sure the NZ connections with Crusaders/Taiwan and Bay of Plenty/China flourish.

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    Article is pasted and discussed in a separate thread on the home page.

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    'I may be a Senator but I am not stupid'


    https://omny.fm/shows/the-alan-jones-breakfast-show/cameron-clyne

    Link to Senate Report http://www.aph.gov.au/senate_ca

    https://www.change.org/p/rugby-australia-petition-for-cameron-clyne-to-resign-as-chairman-of-the-rugby-australia-board

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bakkies View Post
    Article is pasted and discussed in a separate thread on the home page.
    Ok thanks

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