The popularity or even relevance of SuperRugby hasn’t just been questioned of late, it has been well and truly dismissed. So much so that the title of this article isn’t even shocking in nature, it’s just plain obvious, writes Ben Karpinski for Behind TheBounce
Like any other February, this year I tried to drum up some interest in this once fine tournament that has been well and truly ruined. I made this video, which started out in an informative way, but ultimately just ended in honesty.
Into the season we went and again it was an immense struggle to care about the games, or find anyone outside of a gambler or actual player that did.
The stadium attendences were even worse, which in itself is an achievement, and by the time the ‘international break’ came round many rugby fans were only about to watch their first game of the season.
I work in sports media, so this isn’t me just merely making this stuff up. I chat to a lot of people on the subject, and can gage quite a bit from my social media audience.
Then we get to that part of the season when people do start talking about the competition, the playoff stage.
No, not because they are excited for the knockout stages, but because of how the knockouts go down.
The Lions and Waratahs win only 9 of 16 matches, but they get home playoff matches. The Crusaders only lost 2 matches but still have to play a team that lost 8 matches to get into a semi.
SANZAAR tweeked the format this year to make it more competitive and with just 15 teams involved. But it’s still a joke, only now people aren’t laughing. Or watching.
I love sport, it’s a huge part of my life, and rugby was part of my upbringing. But I physically can’t bring myself to watching this thing. I have tried betting to get me into it, I have thrown myself in SuperBru pools, I have tried it all.
So just imagine what the average sports fan feels!
But this article really isn’t about stating the obvious, it is about actually moving on. This tournament is dead, like dead dead. SA Rugby now need to put their big boy pants on and stop this circus, consolidate their position at home and look towards Europe as the future.
Our top local players don’t need all this stupid travel, a mindless tournament that New Zealand teams will only ever really win, and something that nobody watches them in.
We need to make South African rugby ‘great again’, put money and attention back into the Currie Cup, get people back into the stadiums and let New Zealand and Australia and the rest do their own thing.
Knowing South Africans are not watching rugby on the weekend is a cultural and societal problem, and we can’t ignore it any longer.