ARU leaning towards two Super conferences


The Australian Rugby Union is open to an overhaul of Super Rugby that would see more trans-Tasman derbies and up to two Argentinian teams included in the competition.

August 8, 2013 – 6:16PM

Georgina Robinson

Rugby Reporter

New challenge: up to two Argentinian teams could  included in a revamped competition.

New challenge: up to two Argentinian teams could included in a revamped competition. Photo: AFP

Super Rugby’s governing body, SANZAR, is under pressure to include a sixth South African team in the competition from 2016 and believes the best way of doing so is to cut the current three-conference system down to two conferences that would not play each other until a finals series.

One conference would include the current Australian and New Zealand teams and the other would include six South African teams and up to two sides from Argentina.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver would not commit to a preferred model on Thursday but said he supported the inclusion of Argentina, which is playing its second season in the Rugby Championship this year.

It is also understood that while Australia might have preferred to stay with the current three conference model during previous discussions, the prospect of less travel and more marketable derby-style matches between New Zealand and Australian sides has the ARU looking closely at the proposal.

Australian teams would play each other twice and all New Zealand teams once before meeting the top three or four teams from the eight-team South Africa-Argentina conference.

It is becoming less and less likely that Super Rugby in its current format will exist beyond the next Rugby World Cup.

Its new shape is expected to be decided on by the SANZAR nations and Argentina by the end of this year.

A further expansion including an Asian team, possibly Japan, is also on the cards. But Pulver said there was no plan to include a Pacific Islands-based franchise.

Also in the works for 2016 is a new international calendar that would see the June internationals window moved to July and Super Rugby finishing before that break.

The International Rugby Players’ Association has been behind the push, with the SANZAR nations and England’s Premiership Rugby clubs on board.

“I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of having that change,” Pulver said. “Having a Test series take place in June is really quite inconvenient from a Super Rugby perspective. Having to break the competition for a month, particularly for those teams not in the finals series, is very disruptive.”

Wallabies and Waratahs No.7 Michael Hooper also backed the move, saying it made sense to “clean up” the calendar.

“As Waratahs we had to break up for a couple of weeks, come back, play one game against the Reds,” Hooper said. “It’s difficult, while the main squad is training throughout that window you lose guys, guys come back, and it would just clean up the year. I think most players would be for that.”

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  1. I can not see this happening or that RSA would be happy with that.

    We have a CC system were we play each other and to not play against the nest Aus and NZ teams will not benefit us.

    This will just be an extended CC for us. Stupid Idea.

    I would like us to rather move back to Super 12 format for Aus, NZ and RSA and give Argentina two teams in to make it a Super 14 again which was the most successful format.

    Argentina I will base in RSA to make the travel fare as well for then Aus and NZ will also have a 4 to 6 week tour across like we had to do since this started.

    Does RSA not bring in the most money through the current deal of broadcasting as well?

  2. LOve the proposal around the test season, was hoping for something like this. This artificial break in June is silly.

    As for the Superugby one, not ideal, but it might work out for the better. We just need to work out details like how fair it will be with one conference having 8 teams and the other 10? And the Argie teams needs to relocate to SA for the duration, otherwise we will be screweed travelwise again.

  3. IMO drop the franchises & call it the Currie Cup! Play each other as the official CC comp and the top 2 or 4 or whatever plays the best from the AUS/NZ conference in the SR comp.
    Having an SA conference and a CC is stupid so this could be a proper solution to the watered down CC and the overhyped SR comp.

    Just a thought.

  4. @bryce_in_oz: Bryce, I can believe that the ring heads and SA Rugby is pushing to put the Kings in but cannot think that they will want this structure to be implemented.

    I can not see how it will be better for SA Rugby just to play each other and some Argentina teams who will not be up to standard to our top 4 teams. At bets they will be like the Kings and the Lions the past few years.

    Were at the other hand Dareen, NZ and Aus play top rated teams weekend and weekend out. Anybody that thinks this is a solution is off the wall or started to smoke that shit on Table Mountain.

    This looks more like an intern competition and winners play top teams from other countries.

    Then we can just have RSA teams play each other twice, same with NZ and Aus teams and the top two teams play each other in a play off competition. I can really not see this idea working. Maybe the Zambia field fires here is messing up my brain but that is just how I see it.

  5. @Craven:

    You’ve got to feel for the Force… for years they’ve been shafted travel-wise… this will help them a wee bit…


    I’ve been saying that for years now… the CC without Boks is just not the same as the S15 home derbies with the best of the best in RSA…


    Yep it goes pretty much like this…

    – RSA said they want Kings in Super 15
    – NZAR who want a more refined S15 (and are facing player strain pressure) say ‘not on your nelly’
    – RSA well then we propose something along the lines of the above or we walk to the NH.
    – NZAR start seriously considering their own tournament with lest travel and the room for more tests… on top of considering the above.

    I agree… RSA vs RSA vs Arg just isn’t the same as Aus vs NZ…


    With you – drop the franchise competition
    and call it the Currie Cup.
    Problem is what then happens to the Argie teams?

    But all in all I can see this taking us back to
    the isolation years where we had very limited
    exposure vs international teams.
    It harmed SA rugby and took us 3 years to catch
    up again – and only thanks to Kitch Chrisie.
    Same will happen now and it will reflect adversely
    on the Springboks.

    And all this to include a sixth team where we only
    have four competitive ones.
    :Boertjie GOM:
    This will only benefit the ABs and the Ozmob.
    :Boertjie GOM:

  7. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Mate… I’d give up TV too if I was in Tiger fishing territory like you anyways… love lure fishing… and Tigers are the ultimate freshies…

    Haha… just had a good laugh… The Rugby Club is on live and they were talking about the Potgieter signing… heading into ads they played him singing with his guitar on Jacaranda FM… not a bad voice…

  8. If SARU falls for mthis trick then I seriously question their ability to make sound decisions that benefits SA rugby.

    OZ get what they want, home derbies that is financed by our TV revenue, they get to play NZ teams, and they don’t have to travel to Africa, all the while being subsidised by us and great whoop, we play two Amateur Argentinian teams

  9. @biltongbek:

    Isn’t this what you want? Closed conferences?

    The key will be that they get the play-off structure right.

    S6 = Top 3 teams from each of the 2 conferences.
    S8 = Top 4 from each.

    The local conference doubles as the CC. Let the Argies take part. It will turn the CC into a great 8 team, strength v. strength, competition and the top CC teams will qualify for the “Super” round.

    It’s pretty close to what most here has always wanted, but it seems as soon as the Aussies like it, it must be shit.

  10. And SARU/ARG can sell the TV rights to their conference separately. Only share the TV revenues for the Super Round with the NZARs

    And they have scope to invite 2 European teams into our conference also. Even more TV revenues.

  11. I don’t know why we did not see this a long time ago.

    The key is that NZAR is one, not two entities. SANZAR should always have been SA + NZAR with one vote each and there should always have been a better balance of teams between SA and NZAR.

    The relative sizes of the rugby markets should have dictated this from the start.

  12. @Timeo: mate this isn’t closed conferences.

    This is shifteing SA down the line but keepming them interested with a few play offf mtches whilst we continue to fund their rugby.

    What can Argentina bring to the table for us, we gave always only had one benefit from Super rugby and that was to play against their teams and paying dearly for it.

    There is little difference between the style we play and the style Argentina plays, what are we going to learn from them?

    If it was closed conferences then each country will play their own teams only, then the top three of each nation go into a super 9’s stage of round robin.

    Totally different.

  13. @biltongbek:

    They are one conference and we are one. S6 finals will most probably be played between 3 teams from SA against 2 Kiwi and 1 Aussie team.
    S8 finals between 4 SA, 2 NZ and 2 Aus (or perhaps 3 NZ and 1 Aus). If an Arg team is good enough to make it them we have nothing to complain about it.
    Our best will still be playing their best and their still be the RC also.

    And we won’t have to fund them any more, because the TV rights for the 2 closed conferences could be sold separately.

    And if there are an equal number of teams from us and them in the Super Round, the travel load will be equal.

  14. @biltongbek:

    Your S9 system will still screw the SA teams on travel and 2/3rds of all games will still be in their time-zones with it’s lower value TV rights.

    Treating NZ and AR as one conference for the finals, equals the travel load.

  15. @Timeo: they aren’t talking of a six or eight team round robin, they are talking play offs only.

    How sure are you the revenue won’t be split?

  16. @Timeo: also by the timevArgentina has tehir teams in we will have to travel to Argentina which is from what I have read an even more arduous travel intenarary than OZ

  17. I also think, the idea that we have to play them to “learn” something to be better is nonsense.

    We’ve been playing Aus and NZ for almost 20 years now and our relative strength vs. the NH teams have not changed one bit.

    Italy has been inside and Argentina outside regular competition and their relative strengths have not changed much either.

    Neither has that of the PI nations.

    I think the fastest/easiest way to improve the Boks right now is to lessen the travel load of our best players.

  18. @biltongbek:

    But it will be only a 2 match tour, instead of a 4 (or 5 as in S14).

    SAA flight time between ORT and BA is 9h. ORT to Sydney is 12 hours.

    Time difference to Argentina is 5h, Sydney is 10h, Wellington 12h.

    The distance between the 2 Argie games will be a hell of lot less than the current 4 games in Aus and NZ.

  19. @biltongbek:

    We’ve been playing against NZ pace for 20 years and have not improved against them or against Aus, one bit in that time.

    Neither have we improved against France or England.

  20. @biltongbek:

    The reason is that, SARU is always outvoted by NZ and Aus voting as one. Argentina joined the 4N on SARU’s insistence. NZ and Aus were pretty cool towards it. If SANZAR becomes SAAG-NZAR laugh, then SARU will have an ally in the board meetings.

    They way I read this, it’s a SARU proposal.

    You guys’ reaction seems very knee-jerk.

  21. @Timeo:

    The entire reason NZAR have been the top 3 countries in the world since the pro era is exactly that… that they play in the toughest 2 comps in the world… and generally due to it being far more innovative, quicker rugby.

    The entire reason the 6N’s have caught up in recent years… is due to SH players migrating North for their comps, naturalising and most importantly SH coach’s taking over…

    Use it don’t use it…


    I keep saying over and over ‘IT IS SARU PUSHING FOR SPLIT CONFERENCE’ as they cannot get a 6th team in the S15 and are realising any outside chance of a NH alliance will only involve a team or two which leaves them back to square one. Why RSA punters don’t get that shows how blinkered they are (with all due respect)…

    It just so happens that NZAR are now seeing the value of a split…

    -Punters here don’t watch SARU vs NZAR games at ungodly hrs anyway
    -Punters here are more interested in NZ vs AR and their own Super derbies
    -Cutting the travel will save millions, cut down player strain and give them more tests (where the real money is)

    SARU’s threats are slowly back-firing on them and they’re actually starting to create ‘better’ options for NZAR than the current…

    They’re muppets… and some fans are failing to see what’s transpiring… choosing rather to blame it on the ARU or NZAR!

  22. @Timeo:

    Definite logic behind extending the vote…

    Doubt it will help though… SARU are coming up with worst ideas (for themselves) not better…

  23. @bryce_in_oz:

    NZ, Aus and SA won the 1st three World Cups in the amateur era. They were the top 3 nations before the existence of the 3N and they are the top 3 nations now. The 5N have been a regular tournament since the 70s, yet the relative strength between those teams and the 3 SH teams have changed little over those periods.

    If you can show some evidence of how regular strong competition have made a nation/s stronger in the past, please show it. All I can see is short term ups and downs.

  24. If you go on and do a query on the B&I Lions you’ll find the following.

    All time win record: 41%
    Pre 1970 win record: 41%
    Post 1970 win record: 41%
    Post 1980 win record: 34%
    Post 1990 win record: 39%
    Post 2000 win record: 35%

    No evidence of an improvement there.

  25. If one query France against the 3 SH teams, pre and post 1995, you’ll find that their record have gone down significantly against Aus and NZ ~10% but up ~10% against South Africa.

  26. @Timeo:

    The 5N has been a regular tournament pretty much for long as rugby has been played.

    If regular games against strong opponents were to improve a nations rugby, then the NH/SH situation should have been reversed for the 1st 100 years or so.

  27. After 1995, Argentina not only kept their local rugby amateur and were excluded from the regular tier one tournaments. Yet they finish 3rd in World Cup 2007 and they beat France, the host nation, twice in the process.

  28. Go check the Bok record 1992-1994
    after isolation. Also at a later
    stage before the S10 and stuff
    were introduced.
    Isolation hurt SA.
    Isolation from Oz and AB frabises will
    have the same result, especially
    when we face the unions in the Rugby Championship.

  29. @Boertjie:

    The Bok record against the Aus, NZ, Arg, Eng, Wal, Ire, Sco, Fra and the Lions for the 3 year period you selected and all the following 3 year periods to the present are:

    Win % and Points Diff Ratio
    92-94: 48% 1.075
    95-97: 65% 1.441
    98-00: 63% 1.237
    01-03: 39% 0.703
    04-06: 59% 1.112
    07-09: 68% 1.503
    10-12: 44% 0.883

    I don’t see any trend that correlates with SR participation. Sure isolation did hurt. No one is talking about going back to that, but those 1st 3 years were only the 3rd worst of all the 3 year periods.Ups and downs may be much better explained by coaching and political upheaval.

  30. I just remember how we struggled on that
    Frog tour and then the Down Under tour
    under McIntosh.
    It was clear that we were left behind.
    But OK, the record of 7 losses in a row
    was 1964-’65:
    0-13 New Zealand
    3-6 New Zealand
    8-12 Australia
    11-18 Australia
    5-8 Scotland
    6-9 Ireland
    6-8 France

  31. Consider the case of Italy.
    They’ve been playing in the 6N since 2000.

    Their record in all games from 1990 to 2000: 68%
    In all non-6N games since: 55%

  32. Or perhaps we can try a different approach:

    If a nation’s rugby team must improve due to regular matches against better opponents, then there must be the opposite or at least no effect for a nation that regularly only plats against weaker opponents. Therefore the differences between national teams that plays regularly should be diminishing over time until they approach zero.

    New Zealand should have been getting weaker relative to South Africa and Australia.

    I don’t see this happening.

  33. Biltongbek, in all honesty I would support a move for the end of superrugby, just for a couple of seasons. We wont be removed from rugby and face isolation again, we’ll still be playing the AB’s and Aus temas yearly in TRC, so I dont see all the doom and gloom. I tend to agree with Timeo that all the complaints is a bit knee jerk. Our players can only improve from less rugby and our premier local comp, the Currie cup, can only improve from it as well.

  34. Imagine Supersport etc spending all their big money cc, not sharing all our money with other sanzar members, we might actually be able to keep our best players. I dont believe for a minute it would lead to player losses.

  35. @Aldo: i can live with that, me opposing the Super 18 model explained here is fue to the fact that I can’t see Argentina brining anything that will benefit us.

  36. @biltongbek:

    For commercial reasons.

    More fans will pay more to watch the best play the best. It affects the local games also. More fans will watch the Bulls and the Sharks and the Stormers play each other when they know the winner will get to play the Crusaders or the Chiefs.

    The only question to ask about Argentina is whether their inclusion will add enough fans and revenues, both in SA and elsewhere, to make it worthwhile. I think it will.