In the face of dwindling crowds and general disinterest, SupeRugby seems to be at death’s door. The Grim Reaper himself is watching with horror, because he is, no doubt, a Crusaders fan, as the best rugby players in the world run out to play in front of a handful of die-hards with nothing better to do on a Saturday.
In the old days, when the Super12 ruled all and stadiums were full every weekend, Grim would no doubt have enjoyed his Saturdays spent watching Carlos Spencer and Justin Marshall running rings around the best the Free State Cheetahs had to offer. He would have grimaced with joy every time a fired up Willem Alberts careened through five Australians leaving a bloody path of despair in his wake.
But now? What Happened? You’re more likely to run into Grim at your local Builder’s Warehouse buying paint and chicken-wire than you are to find him at the local pub having a few beers watching the Sunwolves play the Brumbies in an anonymous stadium in Singapore…
So has Grim been sent the message? Has he been told to put SupeRugby out of its misery?
Not yet, probably, but then what do I know.
I don’t know much about how the Grim Reaper does his job… I do know a bit about how the SANZAAR guys do theirs though, and that is where the issue lies really. SANZAAR have become masters at flogging dead horses… (no offence to the Brumbies intended, or dead horses…)
First I need outline what made the Super12 so brilliant in the first place, in point form… Obviously…
- We got to see the best teams and players from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia play against each other.
- The competition was simple, where all the teams played all the other teams, home and away.
- It took place over a reasonable period of time, 3 to 4 months, done and dusted vs the current format which seems to have no end and no beginning…
- It was fresh and exciting.
Now I’ll outline what is wrong with SupeRugby today
- The competition takes too long (see point 3 above).
- There are too many teams.
- There are too many local derbies, nobody cares about local derbies, nobody wants local derbies. That is what the Currie Cup and NPC and whatever Australia has, is for…
- The conference system does not work.
- Did i mention that nobody cares about local derbies?
And finally, how to make it great again!
- 12 Teams, 4 from New Zealand, 4 From South Africa, 3 from Australia and 1 Pacific Islanders team.
- Simplify the competition, no more conferences, all teams play all the other teams, home and away in alternating years, max duration of 3-4 months, so that the provincial competitions in the different countries can regain their value.
- No more local derby obsession!
The novelty has worn off, and the mistake SANZAAR have made is that they’ve tried to insert more novelty. That doesn’t work. That never works, you can’t take something stale and make it new by throwing some glitter on it and calling it a pig. No, you need to focus on what made it great in the first place! Great teams with great players playing against each other week in and week out. Adrenaline filled games where the result is always uncertain, where the team in 12th can beat the team in 1st on any given day. That is what I’d pay to see. I don’t want to watch the Sunwolves and the Rebels play mediocre rugby. I want to watch the best players from Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji take on the three big guns and win! I want to see the best take on the best. That’s how you fill your stadiums SANZAAR. You need to build up the suspense. People want to look forward to going to rugby! It needs to be an occasion! It can’t be just another game on just another Saturday in a never-ending stream of games on Saturdays.
“Ho-hum, I am going to rugby again, yawn…” And that is what has become of SupeRugby. It is “ho-hum”, there is no suspense, no excitement, no joy, I suppose. It is just… Blegh…