ARU look to draft for Super 15
May 5, 2010
The Wallabies need to uncover more talented youngsters in the new Super 15 © Getty Images
The Australian Rugby Union is considering a player draft system for its five Super 15 teams to accelerate the development of talented youngsters.
The main change would be the creation of a 25-strong pool of rookie players to be tapped by any team when injuries and suspensions strike players in a franchise's 30-man roster, maximising Super Rugby exposure for the country's best up and coming players.
Currently, the four Super 14 teams are restricted to promoting from within their own wider playing groups and state-based clubs and academies, sometimes leaving a higher quality prospect biding his time in another state.
The proposal, reportedly being pushed by ARU high performance manager David Nucifora, more closely aligns to the system run by the New Zealand Rugby Union where a centralised player pool is distributed equally around the five Super 14 teams.
The five rookies per team would still be attached to specific franchises, but could be called upon by others if a first-team opportunity presented itself.
Acting Rugby Union Players Association chief executive Omar Hassanein told the Australian newspaper he was initially supportive of the proposal.
"I can see the reasoning behind it," Hassanein said. "Everyone is supportive of a system which encourages the best players to be on the field. Until we see the details it's hard to say whether it's great or something we would oppose. In principle it's good, but there are things that need to be ironed out."
According to the report, the five clubs would bid for rookies at an auction in September each year.
Brumbies chief Andrew Fagan and Waratahs counterpart Jim L'Estrange were also cautiously positive about the scheme, saying the merits for the future of Australian rugby were obvious. The administrators raised questions about the wide-ranging implications of the player pool, such as its effect on squad unity and fan affinity with players if they were appearing for different teams, and the matter of who will fund the pool given it may benefit some teams more than others.
Given Australia's large land mass, considerations would have to be given to how temporary relocations for young players would work. In the new Super 15 conference-style format, the first stage of the season is exclusively made up by local derbies, meaning rookie players would often feature against their 'home' clubs.