Former Springbok coach Jake White has lauded Sanzaar’s decision to return to a 14-team Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
It was confirmed last week that the Sunwolves from Japan will drop out of the existing 15-team competition at the end of the 2020 season.
In a column for AllOutRugby, White wrote that the administrators’ eagerness to make money was the sole reason why the Sunwolves were included in Super Rugby. The decision-makers have come to the realisation that the product they had is the one they want to keep.
‘The main reason administrators took rugby down that road was because they thought there was money to be made. Rugby was chasing a foothold in the Asian market, and now, six months before the first rugby World Cup in Asia, we’ve got the announced termination of the only Super Rugby side on the continent,’ he wrote.
‘Because of the size of the potential market, rugby has been clamouring to get into Asia to sell jerseys and memorabilia, just like Toulon tried to do by signing Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru a few years ago.
‘But what the Sunwolves model has shown, is that it doesn’t work like that. The Japanese need to develop their own regional rugby market and produce more home-grown heroes before trying to step up to Super Rugby.’
White added that the Sunwolves’ demise should raise a red flag for World Rugby, who plans to launch a global league.
‘If they go ahead with the global league, rugby will end up with a soccer model where players earn most of their money playing club rugby for private owners all over the world at the expense of the integrity, intensity and mystique of Test rugby.
‘Some people say that will never happen, but that’s what they said in the mid-90s when concerns were raised about Super Rugby eating away at provincial rugby.’