Canberra - David Moffett, one of the architects of the Super 12 and Tri-Nations tournaments, believes both competitions have had their day and that Australia and New Zealand should discard South Africa.
The former chief executive of numerous unions, including NSW, New Zealand and Wales, who was also in charge of the NRL, believes Australian sides should play in an expanded New Zealand National Provincial Championship instead of the Super 14 and domestic competitions. And the obvious alternative to the Tri-Nations is an annual three-match Bledisloe Cup series.
In 1995, Moffett was involved in the planning of the Super 12 and Tri-Nations series, and became the first chief executive of Sanzar, which has since run both competitions. Moffett, who after his term with Wales is returning to New Zealand, told the Herald that while both competitions were good for their times they were in need of a revamp. Traditional rivalries had to be emphasised.
"Forget about South Africa. Concentrate on your own backyard," Moffett said on Sunday. "Professional rugby has interfered with the natural tribalism of the game. It is forcing changes to domestic and grassroots rugby which I don't think are going to work. That's why I have a real concern with what is happening with the new national competition in Australia. There are better options.
"The Super 12/14 and Tri-Nations were right for the time. It brought in a truckload of money, but times have changed. These competitions have a lifespan. I could not understand them going to a Super 14 or the Tri-Nations extended by another round. I know it has to do with money, but you have to be careful you don't kill the golden goose. After 10 years of professional rugby people really have to take a step back and say 'Where to next?'."
Moffett said a solution could be found by what has occurred in this year's South African Currie Cup.
"I've been very impressed with the crowds South Africa are getting for the Currie Cup," Moffett said. "That all comes back to traditional rivalries which sees them getting much bigger crowds than what they have been getting in the Super 14. That's been an eye-opener.
In South Africa they are certainly not as interested in the Super 14 as they are in the Tri-Nations. They've never been particularly competitive in the Super 14 so why not take the opportunity to look at what's better for Australia and New Zealand?
"If you had an expanded NPC, you would have the main provinces in Australia playing the main provinces in New Zealand, and the smaller states in Australia playing the smaller unions in New Zealand."
Moffett said Australian administrators had - by pushing the national competition which starts next year - made the mistake of "trying to replicate the NPC and Currie Cup".
"Three Bledisloe's is what it's about. It is time to rethink the alliance with South Africa... and there needs to be a selfish look at New Zealand and Australia as the present schedule is going to kill the players."[/b]
It would be a sad day if the S14 had to end, it's such a great competition. But it might be the right decision to let SA go. Maybe look for a competition up north or take a break for a few months.