NZ call Expansion, Madness

February 23, 2014
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Chiefs coach Dave Rennie heads the chorus of disapproval in the wake of the revelation that Super Rugby is set to expand to 17 or 18 teams in 2016.

The expansion was approved at a meeting of SANZAR’s Executive Committee in Sydney last Thursday.

The meeting was described as “another important step in deciding the future of Super Rugby” and the new model involves six teams from South Africa and a new team from Argentina.

However, it was met with strong opposition, rather than approval, from within the three SANZAR countries – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

The Aussies, in particular, are keen to retain the current three-tier system where they have plenty of local derbies that attract spectators.

In his first comments on the proposal, the Chiefs coach said he was forcefully opposed to the changes, citing fears for player welfare and major concerns the integrity of the competition would be severely compromised.
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Former All Blacks captain Taine Randell, ex-NZRU boss David Moffett and national players’ association boss Rob Nichol also spoke out against SANZAR’s proposal.

Rennie clearly felt blindsided by the announcement, and that his and the views of other Kiwi Super Rugby coaches had been ignored.

”While we’ve been consulted I’m not sure we’re being listened to,” Rennie said in an interview published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

He revealed the Kiwi coaches’ suggestion of a 14-game round-robin competition between the existing 15 teams – a format that would shorten the season by two weeks – appeared to have been shelved.

”The New Zealand coaches wanted a legitimate competition where everyone plays everyone,” Rennie said.

”All the other scenarios include more teams, more travel and more time away from home.

”Their proposal has the same amount of games, but it’s not necessarily in the best interests of player welfare for our players.”

Rennie felt SANZAR’s proposal was compromised by the politics inherent in three-nation coalition.

”Another South African side may generate more money but is it in the best interests of our players and the competition?” he asked.

”I’m not sure how the public will take to their proposed format. Some of the punters would find that hard to follow.”

Rennie was also concerned about the competitiveness of an Argentinian team, feeling it could quickly join the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels as examples of overseas franchises that need propping up by South African and New Zealand players.

”I’m not sure where they’re going to get their players from. Most of them play in Europe,” he said.

”The worry is if there’s not the quality in Argentina, maybe they’ll start grabbing from New Zealand which further thins out the pool here.”

Randell described SANZAR’s plans as ”defying logic”.

He felt South Africa’s Super Rugby record did not justify an additional team and was bemused the Pacific Island nations continued to be snubbed

Moffett said SANZAR had bowed to political pressure and threats of a European walkout from South Africa who seem destined to get a sixth franchise despite their teams finishing last 13 times in 18 years of Super Rugby.

The former boss of the National Rugby League, as well as Welsh and NZ rugby, labelled the expansion to a 17-team competition as ”insanity”.

Moffett said that in promoting ”quantity over quality”, SANZAR risked turning fans off.

”It’s absolute insanity. People will get fed up. The quality of rugby will just go down further,” said Moffett, currently seeking chairmanship of the Wales Rugby Union.

”The extra South African team is purely political. There certainly aren’t enough quality players in South Africa for six professional teams.”

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23 Comments

  1. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I have to agree…

  2. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 11:55 am

    As seen in Cricket, the once with the power of money rules the game…and this is madness and killing our game as we know it…

  3. avatar Morne Nortier says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 10:49 am

    As much as I am not a fan of an expanded competition (we are yet to see what the plan is though), I propose the following to our NZ brothers and sisters:

    We keep it at 5 teams in SA, but we take 70% of the commercial income and they share the remaining 30%, since that is indeed our 'worth' to this competition.

    Take it or leave it?

  4. avatar Boertjie says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    @Morne Nortier:

    The story about the expanded competition was
    on this site, not?

    Die goedgekeurde voorstel behels vier afdelings, waarvan twee Afrika 1 en Afrika 2 is. Dit sal aan Suid-Afrika ses superfranchises bied, een aan Argentinië en een waaroor nog besluit moet word.

    Afrika 1 en 2 se voorste spanne sal dan eers teen die einde van die kompetisie teen die beste spanne van Doer Onder speel.

  5. avatar Morné says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    @Boertjie:

    That is far from confirmed. The only thing that is confirmed is SA will have 6 teams.

  6. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Have to get a pacific team in.

    Make it 18 teams in 2 groups of 9 each which are determined based on a draw (which is exciting event in itself)

    8 games – 4 home and 4 away.

    Then onto final 8 knockout stage. 4 more games

    Semis + 2 games and final. 15 games. Perfect.

  7. avatar DavidS says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    My attitude Morne is similar to yours re the cash thing…. like with the premiership and Top 14 sides in France and UK

    Show them the numbers and tell them to STFU these are our rules…

  8. avatar Boertjie says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    @Morné:

    Check the second paragraph – the extension was approved.
    One can only presume it is the one that was on the table.
    But I agree – its not the best example of good journalism.

  9. avatar Boertjie says:
    February 23rd, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Well, if we want six teams – never mind five – we
    can probably select the squad from those playing
    abraod, because we don’t have them in the RSA.

  10. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 1:59 am

    I think our TV income will remain steady as most saffas watch games even if just in the background, and they do so regardless of weather its kak rugby.

    We however stand to make a lot more money if our live product gets even better. Games should be less random (i dont think we benefit from doubling our local derbies) and be marketed better.

    We simply have to find a way to incorporate the Curie Cup into Super rugby so we dont have to see the same teams against one another 4 times a year.

  11. avatar Timeo says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 4:23 am

    If the want fewer teams they may always shutdown the Highlanders, Force or Rebels.

    Or they may tell the Saffas to go f**k themselves, form NZAR and go back to S10.

    All in all, it’s going to be an interesting scrap. Who calls the shots at SANZAR? SA or NZAR?

  12. avatar Timeo says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 4:28 am

    @Morne Nortier:

    Morne.

    Does rugby has something similar to this?

    http://www.nfl.com/combine/workouts

    Checkout the position drills and notice the emphasis on technique.

    If you devise a scrum-half drill for SARU, they may avoid another Hougie situation.

  13. avatar Morné says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    @Timeo:

    Our U16′s, U18′s and U20′s are tested extensively from a conditioning point of view. But senior players remain the property of their unions first, so that happens at the unions (or not at all).

  14. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    @Morné:

    I am currently running a monthly fitness test to get the players to follow their own progression. Bleep test, 3Km run, bench press, squat, body fat, sprint times (10 and 40m) etc.
    Some of my best players on the field of play seem to be the worst in fitness :Dawie:

  15. avatar Morné says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    Do they last the 80?

  16. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    @Morné:

    that is the funny part – they last the 80min and carry the team and yet can’t run the 3km or do a bleep test with any good time…
    Al in their head I suppose! They play with heart which seems to keep them going for the 80mim but at fitness test/training do not have that go to push past their limit.

  17. avatar Morné says:
    February 24th, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    I am stumped. Imagine if they are fit and conditioned what they will be able to contribute…

  18. avatar Timeo says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 4:00 am

    @Morné:

    What about skill tests and evaluations of technique?

  19. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 9:01 am

    @Timeo:

    That I see as my normal training – we work on passing, catching, kicking etc etc, at training added to that ruck technique and most importantly what to do when…
    My main focus befor the season starts is to get the support for the ball carrier right, who commit to the ruck and how.

    Too much to go into here.

    Tonight it is a big fitness test and followed up with some game play situations – to see how they concentrate when they are knackered :twisted: I love coaching :twisted:

  20. avatar Timeo says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    The situation for you is different though. You have to take what you get and make them into rugby players.

    SA rugby can pick and choose. How do they evaluate juniors and identify future stars then?
    -athleticism?
    -technique?

    It seems to me they are neglecting the latter. How else does a guy makes it all the way to Bok 9, before it appears he has poor technique?

    I think that at the lower levels of the game, poor technique is easy to compensate for with good athleticism. Conditioning tests for juniors, are missing the point. What’s needed is more and earlier technical evaluations. Find and fix the flaws while there is still time.

    The best conditioned athletes?

  21. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    @Timeo:

    yep you are right there – last year we had a Young Player which technique is better than most in the league yet he struggled to do push-ups and weighed in at 70kg.
    But what a Player! He won us a few games thanks to his brilliance and Speed.

  22. avatar Timeo says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Ruan Pienaar is another example.

    When he was converted to 10, it was a decision based completely on his natural athleticism. Did anyone look at his techniques/ I think not, because they would have noticed that he kept on passing the ball like a 9.

    Frans Steyn. When he 1st came on to the scene as a 10, everyone marvelled at his step, his size, his speed and his kicking distance. He had to play 10 for the Boks before they noticed that he takes too long to wing up his kicks.

    It should be pretty easy to measure how fast a player can kick without giving up distance or accuracy!

  23. avatar Timeo says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Coenie never scrum with a straight back. Hardly any SA prop do.

    Our scrum binding at the ’07 world cup was a disaster.

    Danie Rossouw, when running, was often easily stripped of the ball.

    I’m sure us amateurs can come up with a long list of technical flaws in Bok players in no time. What’s up with the highly paid professionals?

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