Australian Rugby
ARU approves third tier 'in principle'
ESPN Staff
October 23, 2013
Greg Growden offers common-sense solutions to save Australian rugby © ESPNscrum with Getty Images

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is believed to have agreed in principle to the establishment of a "Super B competition" and a national club competition, pending funding, The Australian reports.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver proposed at the union board meeting on Tuesday a Super B competition from February to March, with games being played as Super Rugby curtain-raisers, and a national club competition played in September and October. Pulver has previously suggested that leading Brisbane and Sydney clubs - or the amalgamation of clubs - would be invited to take part in the proposed club competition alongside teams from Canberra, Melbourne and Perth. Some Sydney Shute Shield clubs are known to oppose the idea of a national competition, however.

ARU officials have identified the need for a "third tier" of competition to bridge the gap between club and Super Rugby, but they have never found an affordable model. The union now is seeking funding from broadcast and sponsorship partners to make the proposal a reality.

Pulver told ESPNscrum correspondent Greg Growden in an exclusive interview in May that the Super B concept was part of a strategy designed to develop "kids currently sitting in rugby academies in Brisbane and Sydney doing a lot of coaching and training, and actually putting them in a real-life developmental competition".

"The main objective is to accelerate elite development so we win more games at a Super Rugby level," Pulver told ESPNscrum, noting that Super Rugby coaches and chief executives all want greater depth of playing talent. "The secondary objective is to capture the hearts and minds of our rugby fans again with some exciting innovations, as well as filling the stadia again. The third objective is to find a component of the game, which can be packaged up for television."

Pulver told ESPNscrum the concept would allow Australia's Super Rugby franchises each to expand their playing roster to "45 or 50" players, as has been requested by team coaches and management.

Greg Growden's Manifesto to Save Australian Rugby: forget about all these airy-fairy third-tier competition ideas, we've got a much better idea … Thursday, October 24.

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