Has the time come for South Africa to move on and shake up the rugby world again?
After reading the statements made by the South African Rugby Union this weekend about re-examining the format of Super and Tri Rugby after 2015, one wonders what SARU means by it all.
What are the positives of changing the rugby formats and what are the negatives? What must be remembered is that Super Sports—and to a lesser extent, Fox and Sky—pays the bills. If the TV ratings drop, then the money influx into rugby drops.
No money is bad news to the rugby unions, and that, in turn, is bad news to players wanting to play in the southern hemisphere.
Rugby in Australia is in serious trouble. They may need a World Cup win more than New Zealand. If they don't pick up their game, the ARU could face financial ruin. So, the arrogant stance of ex-players, commentators and union officials needs to change. Nothing wrong with being humble every now and then!
If SARU pull out of Super Rugby and Tri-Nations, Australia is done. They have not won a series against New Zealand in eight years and that may continue for some time to come. This will mean that a public already fickle about winning will lose interest in the game.
New Zealand rugby will always stay strong, though if they are not able to maintain their home-grown talent and if they don't change selection policies, rugby may weaken in the land of the Long White Cloud.
Let's hope the selectors are able to look at the bigger picture—something the South Africans should do. Play your strongest team first.
Bottom line: as spectators that love this game, we know rugby must always come first. Rugby administrators need to think up ideas that will put bums on seats. People want to see full stadiums!
The Tri-Nations is fantastic, but maybe it should be played every second year, with a full mid-winter tour between the three countries every other year. The Boks go to New Zealand or Oz for five weeks: three tests and mid week and Barba matches. Bringing back the rugby tours would be fantastic. I know I would rather tour Australia or New Zealand for a Springbok rugby tour than tour the country for a rugby World Cup.
South Africa has got options because of our shared time zones with Europe, so playing in a Seven Nations Championship could be a possibility, but that would not be rugby. I don't think the South African public would take too kindly to such a move.
I, for one, enjoy the summer tour that our southern teams do. Go over, kick ass, and show the North just how far behind they are.
Anyway, I feel that rugby is strong in the South, but we, the rugby-mad public, need to make our voices heard and administrators need to listen and deliver on what we are looking for. We are the people and the money behind rugby.
No money, no rugby!
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