Eight reasons why South Africa should form a new competition with European and French clubs, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
On Tuesday, England and France announced that they would be breaking away from the European Cup after this season's tournament and form a new competition that would be open to teams from other countries. This after their demands – for the number of teams in the European Cup to be reduced from 24 to 20 and an equal three-way split in revenue between the Premiership, the French Top 14 and the Celtic Pro12 – were rejected by the Celtic and Italian clubs. Another bone of contention was that the Celtic and Italian clubs don't have to qualify for the European Cup, while the English and French sides do.
With the current Super Rugby broadcast agreement set to expire at the end of the 2015 season, Saru is now in a strong position in terms of negotiations with Sanzar.
Sanzar has already promised South Africa six teams from 2016 onwards, but a new format has not yet been agreed upon. Saru could find that no new format suits them and opt to look north.
Here's why that would be a good idea:
1. The travel factor. No longer will South African teams have to fly halfway across the world for four-week tours of Australasia, while Australasian sides pop over for just two weeks.
2. No jet lag. South Africa is only an hour or two ahead of England and France, depending on the time of year, so the days of our players suffering from jet lag would be over.
3. Suitable TV times for all concerned. How many Aussie and Kiwi fans bother to wake up in the early hours of the morning to watch Super Rugby games being played in South Africa? With three participating nations in a similar time zone, all matches could be played in the afternoon, evening and at night, when most people want to watch rugby. Good news for SuperSport and the European broadcasters.
4. No Sanzar fatigue. South African franchises play against Aussie and Kiwi sides in Super Rugby from February until August, and then the Boks take on the All Blacks and Wallabies from August to October. That's the same players taking on the same players for nine months of the year. Being part of a European club competition would be mentally refreshing for our players.
5. No split Sanzar revenue. South Africa generates most of the money for Sanzar in Super Rugby yet only gets a third of the revenue. A three-way split with wealthier rugby nations such as England and France would make far more sense. And more revenue would be generated by a European-SA competition than Super Rugby.
6. No conference system. Super Rugby's conference system – which sees teams play those in their pool home and away, and only four of the five teams in the other pools – sucks. All it's done is given Australia the domestic competition they've always wanted with an added international element. South African derbies are also far more physical than those in New Zealand and Australia, which explains the number of injuries our teams have suffered since 2011. And four points for a bye ... really? Which Australian genius came up with that idea?
7. Saffas abroad would be back on our radar. If the Stormers played Toulon, for example, the likes of Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Joe van Niekerk would get to take on their countrymen and get greater exposure on South African TV. Who wouldn't want to see Botha up against Eben Etzebeth?
8. The Currie Cup could regain its former status. Matches in a European-SA tournament could be scheduled in such a way that SA's top players are available for the majority of the Currie Cup. It would then become a tournament really worth winning again, instead of a glorified Vodacom Cup that is all about player development.
Photo: Bertrand Langlois/Luke Walker/Gallo Images/AFP Photo
Lions leave lasting impression
Although the Lions stumbled at the final hurdle, their Super Rugby campaign should still serve as unequivocal evidence that South African rugby can dare to be different, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the past weekend's Super Rugby final, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Green Bok side could struggle
The Springboks’ Rugby Championship squad is light on experience as well as genuine Test options at blindside flank, inside centre and fullback, writes JON CARDINELLI.