Super Rugby 2015 is nearing the end of yet another season which will also see the end of the current structure with three more teams added in next year’s competition.
By: Jacques Nortier
Supporters are worried about the extra team that will be competing next year from South Africa and with so many players leaving South Africa to play in Europe or Japan many are worried that we will not be able to field a strong enough team with the Kings next year.
The first the question we need to ask though are South African teams (who failed to get a team into the semi and only on in the top 6) really that poor, or are we just seeing a competition where the top 8 teams are close together when it comes to form?
Let’s look at the final stand of teams on the table after sixteen rounds.
Only the Hurricanes from New Zealand stand out from the rest of the teams on winning and losing games during the season, with fourteen wins and only two losses. The Waratahs who ended second overall and the Highlanders who ended fourth both had 11 wins with 5 losses.
The Stormers finish third ended up with ten wins five loses and one draw. The Chiefs had also ten wins with 6 losses and ended fifth on the log. The last team that qualified for the play-offs ended with nine wins and seven loses, this was the same as the Crusaders and the Lions who missed out on a play-off spot with the only difference of the Lions having only had six losses with one draw.
The Bulls, Rebels and Sharks all had seven wins and nine losses in their regular season.
Between the second team on the log (Waratahs) and the eighth team (Lions) there is only a difference of two extra losses by the Lions. The difference of course between any team’s position on the log have been the bonus points that they got for either four tries scored or losing within seven points.
Except for the Hurricanes who was by far the best team in the competition, any team from second on the log to eleventh could have been playing in the play-offs which means they are actually closer than many would want to believe.
Now looking towards next year were the Kings will join the likes of the Stormers, Lions, Bulls, Sharks and Cheetahs in the competition we started to think if we have enough players to supply these teams?
The answer is yes we do, if one look at the structures that we have in place and the feeding competitions we have that supply South African teams with new young talent. With the constant supply of players from the Varsity Cup and the great support SARU has put on our club system we have so many undiscovered talent in our country that just need the opportunity to show that they can make the step-up.
Supporters are quick to point to New Zealand and Australians who give many of their youngster’s opportunities in Super Rugby and it is about time we change our own conservative approach and see what these guys can do at the top level.
We are hearing great noises being made about our club system and developing the talent in our so called smaller unions who are playing in the Currie Cup first division. A healthy junior and club structure will ensure a constant supply of talented players to the unions and give them the opportunity for the step up to professional rugby.
Another aspect that has been working in the past few years which many of the Super Rugby franchises have used is the loaned player system from non-Super Rugby teams. A greater working relationship between all the unions in South Africa will ensure that we can tap more into this pool of players that can develop in superstars if given the change.
The success of six competitive teams in South African conference will depend on the cooperation between all our unions clubs and SARU which is possible if we all work towards the same goal in making South African rugby strong.