Super 15 to become Super 18?

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Governing body SANZAR are reportedly considering a controversial enlargement of the Super Rugby format, adding in three more teams potentially as soon as the 2016 season. Two Argentinian teams could be added, while they are also committed to including the Southern Kings, the South African franchise relegated from this year’s competition, on a permanent basis.

The new format would see the current three-log competition split into two separate leagues. The difference would be that instead of playing clubs outside of their league – like at the moment, for example, when the South African franchises travel to Australia/NZ, and vice versa – all clubs would participate just in their own league, with a certain number of the top teams progressing to play-offs against those from the other league.

The proposal is to create an Australia-New Zealand league, and a South Africa-Argentina league – with the possibility even of adding Japanese teams in the future. The reason for this is that the current 21-week playing window cannot be lengthened, so despite there being more teams there cannot be any more playing weekends. This is partly down to the fact that all three unions are adamant that their derby games be played home and away.

The inclusion of Argentinian, and potentially Japanese, clubs is undoubtedly a step forward for the global appeal of the game, and great news for two up-and-coming rugby nations, but will it have adverse side effects on the Super Rugby competition? While the players’ bodies might be grateful for not having to make long trips to South Africa, there will be some big games to be culled from the calendar and it is tough to see the fans being happy with that, given many think the current 15-team format is somewhat convoluted.

From a South African point of view, it would ease the political pressure on SANZAR to include the Southern Kings, whose debut season was entertaining if ultimately unsuccessful, on a permanent basis.

“We really understand the desire for that from South Africa,” said SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters. “The Kings have 32% of the playing population, and 72% of that is coloured. We understand the need for six teams in South Africa.”

SANZAR and the ARU are also battling to have the June International window moved to July so as not to interfere with the Super Rugby season – but that is a proposal that is likely to fall on deaf ears in the Northern Hemisphere, given their equally-lengthy season and tiny window for rest in the summer.

What do you make of this new proposal? Is it a step in the right direction, or is it merely further convoluting an already cluttered schedule?

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Picture: Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images

7 thoughts on “Super 15 to become Super 18?

  1. They need to incorporate the Pacific islanders some how. Whether it is a joint side from all three Islanders revolving the games around the islands or one based in NZ with the odd game played outside, they need to be included to stop the player drain.

    1. That’s a pretty cool idea actually! Not sure how plausible it would be, but it would be interesting for sure.

  2. Why do they want to make it a weaker competition? Japan don’t have the depth (good Japanese qualified players) to field competitive teams. They have way too many foreigners in their national team and on their club teams. I can’t remember if the Argentinean Union has become professional yet or is still amateur, so the structures are probably not there. Plus, their best players play in Europe where they get paid more. Where is Argentina going to get the money to bring them back?

    More importantly, there are too many franchises. South Africa is just diluting their talent pool by expanding. They can only field four competitive franchises, but yet, they want six. New Zealand can only field four competitive franchises, but have five. Australia can only field three competitive franchises, but have five. I would rather watch paint dry than watch the Lions verse the Force, or Rebels verse Highlanders, or Kings verse anybody.

    If only we can get back to Super 12. That would be an amazing competition.

  3. Did the SANZAR chief executive really use the word ‘coloured’? have I woken up in the 1950s?

    Good article though – with Argentina now in the Championship, I could not see it being too long before they needed to have a representative in the Super competition, although I think initially two franchises would be a stretch for themin terms of player numbers and funding?

    as for Japanese teams, the pacific islanders and the weaker end of the Super rugby spectrum, could SANZAR not look at developing a two tier competition, complete with relegation/promotion? I think it is no stretch to think that, say a Japanese franchise could compete against say the Force or the Kings, but it would dilute a quality tournament to throw them all into the same league piecemeal…

  4. Did the SANZAR chief executive really use the word ‘coloured’? have I woken up in the 1950s?

    Good article though – with Argentina now in the Championship, I could not see it being too long before they needed to have a representative in the Super competition, although I think initially two franchises would be a stretch for them in terms of player numbers and funding?

    as for Japanese teams, the pacific islanders and the weaker end of the Super rugby spectrum, could SANZAR not look at developing a two tier competition, complete with relegation/promotion? I think it is no stretch to think that, say a Japanese franchise could compete against say the Force or the Kings, but it would dilute a quality tournament to throw them all into the same league piecemeal…

  5. I don’t think its a good idea to just marry up two countries in a League, permantly severing the close bonds South Africa has enjoyed with both Australia and New Zealand. You can’t just erase out 18 years of high-stakes and emotional rugby. Two separate Leagues would definately be a step forward, but use all four rugby codes in each rather than just tying two together, restricting all codes in the process.

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