Greg Growden: Expanded Super Rugby a convoluted mess
February 21, 2016
Super Rugby: Who will have the best … ?
Gluttony can lead to chronic illness.
Excessive diluting of a product can spoil the broth.
Greed is not always good.
Can someone remind SANZAR, SANZAAR, SAR, SANJZAAR, MESSUPCZARS or whatever they now call themselves of these serious health warnings next time they meet?
Shouldn't the aim of the southern hemisphere governing bodies' be to improve the product, rather than turning it into a convoluted mess?
Super Rugby Australia: Brumbies look like the team to beat%]
Once upon a time the Super Rugby season was easy to understand. In the round-robin days of the Super 12, the quality was high, the competitive structure was fair, and it made sense to the general punter. It worked.
Super 14 and then Super 15 was pushing it a bit, with several dubious teams being introduced.
But Super 18. Come on!
It involves at least four teams too many, including several from South Africa who are only in there for political reasons, and will again provide nothing more than cheap slapstick comedy. Do they honestly believe the shambolic Kings will be of any value this season?
And this comes at a time when the country's supposed heavyweights keep floundering. Three titles in 20 years is so underwhelming- so why allow South Africa to keep adding more and more substandard teams.
The mail out of the Republic is that the Kings will not even come close to being competitive, and have been struck down by serious internal problems including difficulties paying players, with it already under administration from the South African Rugby Board. With this province in such a parlous state, why oh why would you add them to the competition? Sheer lunacy.
Super Rugby New Zealand: Blues might go OK but tough as ever to predict%]
I'm not pushing this line while wearing a green and gold eye-patch on either- because I have long advocated that Australia never warranted getting a fourth and fifth team. They should have at most four teams, as indicated by the Western Force having to rely on imports to make their playing ranks competitive.
There are bound to be endless headlines- many derogatory- about the expanded Super Rugby competition- and how the addition of three teams- one of extremely dubious quality- has led to an even more confusing competition draw.
Expect complaints from Australian and New Zealand coaches early on, as their draw looks diabolical compared to their South African counterparts. No wonder the Bulls, Stormers and Cheetahs are killing themselves laughing- they don't have to play any New Zealand provinces in the lead-up rounds. Happy days for them!
Maybe that's why we haven't heard the customary whinge from the Republic about how Super Rugby is so unfair for them because of the travel factor. Nor have we heard their usual threat that they will go to Europe for a better deal. If they can't produce under this oh so South African friendly conference structure, they never will, as they have been given an enormous, and unfair leg up.
Super Rugby Africa One: Stormers look best in weak group%]
Japan's Sunwolves will at least provide some much needed variety, but the serious difficulties involved in getting this new province together in time for their opening season should see them also struggle.
The Argentinean Jaguares are a smarter option and should do something this year. As long as they don't get homesick, as they have long stretches on the road, the Jaguares could turn into one of the best bets of the tournament.
If this happens, the SANZAAR spinmeisters will carry on about how this has proven that expansion is the only way to go. No, no, no...the Jaguares should have been introduced at the expense of one or even two South African teams, and not as an add-on.
And don't ask me to explain the new conference system. I started reading it, but soon realised cryptic crosswords written in Latin were easier to work out, and instead decided to go for the cold towel- good lie down approach.
Now the draw is woefully lopsided, bewildering, involving some pretty wild travel plans and too many meaningless games. There will be understandably whingeing from some New Zealand teams which now have extra legs from South Africa to Argentina. South African teams also have long hauls to get to Singapore or Tokyo for matches against the Sunwolves. Jet lag and travel fatigue- already a serious Super Rugby downer- will become even more of a factor.
Oh for a return of the Super 12. Simple, effective, but most importantly logical. Sadly, this bloated tournament is no longer spectator friendly.
Return on Wednesday to read ESPN rugby editor Sam Bruce's response.
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