Dobson: Don’t pull plug on ‘deteriorating’ Super Rugby

Stormers coach John Dobson says it would be premature to bring an end to Vodacom Super Rugby but admits its quality has deteriorated over the years, writes DYLAN JACK.

During the period that the competition has been halted, there have been plenty of rumours flying around the southern-hemisphere tournament’s future.

Sanzaar have agreed to a 14-team, non-conference structure for 2021 – with the Sunwolves dropping out of the tournament – but it is very much still up in the air what happens from 2022 onward.

Talk from Australia and New Zealand is that their players and administrators are keen to make Super Rugby a trans-Tasman tournament involving Asian teams.

However, Sanzaar has been keen to emphasise that the likelihood of that is low as it is committed to including teams from all member unions.

‘Those guys who are older will remember that when it started it was a trans-Tasman tournament – the Super Six,’ Dobson said during a Zoom media conference earlier this week.

‘I would suggest that when that tournament expanded to include South Africa it became a much bigger and better tournament. I remember the Super 10 which Transvaal won in 1993 under Kitch Christie and it became a really good tournament.

‘That it’s deteriorated over the last years is beyond doubt.’

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As many have suggested, Dobson believes a simpler tournament format with fewer teams would be beneficial to getting Super Rugby back to what it was.

‘If we think back to that period that lasted so long from about the mid-1990s up until the 2000s, it was a really good product. I think all of us would agree that first prize was Super 12: top four, semi-final, final, over by end of May, no break for incoming tours,’ he said.

‘You had some availability of Springboks to the Currie Cup and those were our best seasons. You had that window then for tours and you could get bigger tours as well.

‘I’ve got a horrible feeling that this cacophony is going to have some sway, but my understanding is that a deal is locked in and that there is Super Rugby in its current format for the foreseeable future,’ he added.

‘I think it would be premature for a complete plug pull, but if we could get back closer to something like we used to have, that would have real merit to me.’

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Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images