The New 'Southern Super Cup'

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by scuubasteve, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. scuubasteve

    scuubasteve Guest

    The way I see current pro club rugby problems are as follows:

    1. Rugby needs to get rid of the cluttered club season.
    2. Clubs should have constant player rosters (not the current situation where the best players are only there sometimes)
    3. Fans should only have to support one club team in a season.
    4. The minnow nations need sustainable professional clubs to grow.
    5. Clubs from smaller nations would grow faster if they could play big name foreign clubs.
    6. Fans want a season that is unpredictable and not stale.
    7. Sponsors and TV networks would pay more for a larger global competition.
    8. Sponsors want a prolonged competition that will hold the attention of the punters.
    9. More professional clubs in a country means there are more professional players available for the national teams.
    10. More professional contracts mean less players can be enticed away to other sports (especially important in Australia).

    In my opinion, the teams are already in existance to create a better semi-global club rugby competition, which is not only more sustainable in the SANZAR nations, but could help raise the competitive levels of Teir 2 nations throughout the Southern hemisphere.

    What would happen if you cut the Super 14 and had something similar to the Heineken Cup instead?

    Currently there are as follows:

    Australian Rugby Cup (8 Teams)
    Pacific Rugby Cup (6 Teams)
    Top League - Japan (14 Teams)
    Air NZ Cup (14 Teams)
    Currie Cup (14 Teams)

    These teams should compete in their respective national domestic competions along with the global club comp.

    Firstly, create two competitions:
    A. The top level Super Rugby Cup
    B: The second level Southern Rugby Shield.

    Each competition would include 24 teams. Comprising 4 pools of 6.

    Teams will play each other team in their pool both at home and away.
    This gives a total of 10 pool games, which will be spaced out across the local domestic season into 5 blocks of 2 games each.

    Following pool play, the top 2 teams from each pool will go through into quarter finals, semi’s and a grand final.

    Super Cup qualification would be as follows:

    Pacific Island’s = 3 teams (Top 3 Pacific Rugby Cup teams)
    New Zealand = 6 teams (Top 6 Air New Zealand Cup teams)
    South Africa = 6 teams (Top 6 Currie Cup Teams)
    Australia = 6 teams (Top 6 Australian Rugby Cup teams)
    Japan = 3 teams (Top 3 Top League Teams)

    Total = 24 teams

    Southern Rugby Shield qualification as follows:

    Pacific Island’s = 3 teams (Bottom 3 Pacific Rugby Cup teams)
    New Zealand = 8 teams (Bottom 8 Air New Zealand Cup teams)
    South Africa = 6 teams (Next 6 Currie Cup Teams)
    Australia = 2 teams (Bottom 2 Australian Rugby Cup teams)
    Japan = 5 teams (Next 5 highest Top League Teams)

    Total = 24 teams

    The figures (used above) for qualification is based on a mixture of:
    1. The current number of teams in the respective national competitions.
    2. The relative strengths of the competions.
    3. The need to promote the growth of the weaker nations.

    It is also likely that, if this was the way pro club rugby was organised in the southern hemisphere, the ARU could justify more ARC teams. This would mean a reshuffling of the qualification system to take this factor into account for future seasons.

    While these teams would obviously be a step down from current Super rugby, it would be a more significant step up from what they currently are in the local domestic comps. More players would also be exposed to a higher grade than they currently are. The Southern equivalent of the Heineken Cup would also provide constant knockout, high intensity rugby.

    But most importantly, attendances would increase for the ARC, NPC, CC teams to levels more similar to the NRL and A-League (10,000-15,000), thus making the stadiums being used currently far more acceptable and sustainable in size.

    A truely competitive domestic league would also attract a more tribal following from fans. Not the makeshift 14weeks following Team A, before switching concentration for 14 weeks to Team B.

    Put in place salary caps and a draft from the club grades to spread the current talent crop around evenly, and to entice younger players to still partake in club rugby.

    Adding expansion teams at this level is also going to be alot easier then adding Super Teams. It is not unreasonable to think that Adelaide could eventually have an ARC team, or Newcastle, or North Queensland. But these places will be waiting along time to have a team they can support at the highest club level of Australian rugby if the Super14 persists. This is the same for the Islands or Japan. The Islands will never be able to afford to host a Super Team (even a combined one) and the level of the heavily sponsored Japanese clubs are currently to weak to compete at Super level.

    Sports respond better to players they can relate and teams that are accessable, with local heroes who represent their area. Not teams that are based in only a few big urban areas.

    If NZ rugby is anything to go by, the Air New Zealand Cup boasts pretty decent crowds (ironically apart from the 5 Super Franchise cities), but the Super14 teams have been in very steady supporter decline for the last 5 years. Fans in the provinces cannot relate to Franchises and this comp appears to be struggling from a repeditive, stale calendar and over exposure of the sport.

    However, if the big international club games were spread throughout a shorter overall playing calendar, and the teams you playing each other were changing every year, then fans would be continuously interested in the competition. The interest generated for the club from the global club comp would then transfer to the same clubs in the local comp.

    Maybe I am optimistic, but I would sure love to watch a competition where a southern “Heineken Cup†Pool A could possibly include:

    Western Sydney Rams
    Wellington Lions
    Savaii Samoa
    Western Province
    Kobelco Steelers
    Hawkes Bay Magpies (of course!!)

    I would find this far more interesting than another Waratahs - Lions Super 14 game.

    I believe that Super rugby, while is great at giving an elite few players higher level match experience, is essentially limiting the spread of rugby to other southern hemisphere nations, is stemming the possible growth of rugby globally and is pushing club rugby in the SANZAR nations into an unsustainable corner.

    But I’m sure others would disagree, and I’d love to hear what you thinks. Cheers.
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  3. ChiefsFan

    ChiefsFan Guest

    But... Although having teams from each area would allow the lesser teams to get better, it is unfair on the 7th best ANZ Cup team when they are probably better than most of the other teams in the competition.
  4. esoj

    esoj Guest

    yeah I agree with that. I also think this could do more harm than good. while the lesser nations would get more exposure teams in NZ,SA and Australia that don't make the top group would suffer very greatly. A lot of the smaller unions/teams I can see completely collapsing if they fail to make the top group. The heinken cup works in europe because the clubs have the money to support it but down here in the southern hemisphere the money teams have is way less and many rely on the money that comes from things like the super 14 and central contracting of players to survive. for something like this to work down under central contracting would have to go and teams would need to find a whole heap of cash from somewhere to stay viable if they miss the top group.
  5. scuubasteve

    scuubasteve Guest

    Currently I definitely would agree with that mate, but I guess you could argue about who deserves to be in and out til the cows come home a.

    Maybe reducing one of the Pacific Teams could give another NZ spot? But then NZ has an advantage over Aus and SA. Especially as NZ has the most teams taking part anyway. There would be arguements whatever the mix.

    I think you'd want as much of a competitive mix as possible, to avoid too many repeat games. Each Kiwi team would play each other once during the Air NZ Cup anyway, so by having 2 Kiwi teams in a Super Cup pool it would mean that they play each other another 2 times. 3 of the same clash might get tedious?

    If television rights (sold to NewsCorp etc) were paid for the whole comp (both the Cup and the Shield) and distributed evenly to all teams involved, then teams would be assured of equal money for their biggest source of income. The incentive for making the top comp would be more hype and more crowd attendance. A big bonus for making the finals might also be a one off prize incentive.

    With a realistic salary cap (not the ridiculously high one in the AirNZ Cup) then we would see the strength of teams even up, and picking the top8 would be as hard as picking the NRL finals. Sponsorship would simply need to be contracted for more than a single season, because you'd never know less than a year in advance which comp you were in.

    The only problem that would arise would be that the bottom 2 Currie Cup teams, and the bottom 6 Top League teams wouldn't have a game on when the global games were on. Maybe these sides could play exhibition games against other local African (Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe) and Asian (China, Korea, Taiwan) teams as a low cost alternative?
  6. Good topic. I'm not sure what to make of the idea though.

    The idea of replacing the Super 14 with a two tiered competition involving more sides has it's merits and it's hard to argue that it would bring up the standard of play in the weaker nations. Japan and the Pacific Islands would unquestionably improve. The idea of revenue sharing and a salary cap is one I'd be in favour of; it's very like the NFL model which works pretty well.

    I do foresee problems though. Citing the European Challenge Cup (or whatever it's called), there is very little interest in the lesser competition. In fact, it has remained sponsorless for the last 4 or 5 years. Teams don't take it seriously until they rech the last 8 and see an opportunity for access to the Heineken Cup. I could foresee such a problem existing in the Southern Super Cup series. Likewise, a salary cap, while desireable, would be tough to implement. The standard of living, and wages in general, vary greatly across all the nations involved. It could prove hard to enforce and deciding on a cross-border spending limit would be difficult.

    In other topics, you've forwarded the idea of including a Japan based team in an expanded Super XIV to offset the financial implications of a team based in the Pacific Islands gaining inclusion to the competition. I think that's the way forward. A Pacific Islands composite side made up of players who aren't signed to European clubs or New Zealand based teams would immediately become a force. It would take longer for the Japanese franchise to reach the required standard and, if they used players qualified for the Brave Blossoms exclusively, they'd be the whipping boys of the league. The solution to that is quite simple.

    Japan's Top League could be used as a feeder league to their Super XVI franchise, similarly to how the Air New Zealand Cup teams feed into their Supr XIV sides. Initially Japan wouldn't have good enough players to compete so their franchise should be allowed import foreign players. Say the Sanzar countries relax their banning of players not plying their trade at home. Instead they allow any qualified player in Super Rugby play for the national team ie if Richie McCaw signed for the Sharks he'd still be eligible for All Black selection. In such a scenario, the Japanese team could import star players from Sanzar to make up the bulk of their team while having a rule that, say, 8 of their 22 man matchday squad must be eligible for Japan selection. The number of foreign players reduces as Japan gets stronger.

    In that scenario, Super Rugby expands into new and potentially lucrative markets thus breaking the present monotony. Perhaps a financial incentive should be introduced to prevent teams from tanking games ie the higher you finish, the more money you make. As things stand, Super Rugby doesn't need an overhaul rather some tweaking is required.
  7. scuubasteve

    scuubasteve Guest

    To be honest, there are quite a few good international players plying their trade in Japan. Two guys from the Chiefs (Steven Bates, Roy Kinikinlau) have just signed on for Top League teams. Other All Blacks like Troy Flavell and Leon McDonald recently returned from Japan back into NZ rugby. It isn't at all unrealistic to see a team based in Japan with at least a dozen ex SANZAR internationals who are there for big money.

    So a squad team comprising a nominated quota of non-Japanese and Japanese eligible palyers would actually do ok I think. Especially if the Super team had some money thrown behind it. If players could play Super rugby in Japan then I think there would be more big names heading there, rather than Europe.

    And hey, if big name foreign players help to put fans throught the turnstiles in Europe then it should also boost crowds in Japan.

    But, I'm still a fan of developing a self sustaining professional club environment in the SH more. Super rugby is awesome, but it has a knock-on effect to the other areas of the game which largely goes unnoticed. But I guess I am somewhat biased in that I'm one of those fans of the rugby heartland that is being strangled by Super Rugby.

    And it might just be an NZ thing. Because the Currie Cup final sold out (36,000fans!) even when South African fans were supporting the World Cup.
  8. Nat

    Nat Guest

    I like the sound of this, but I fear that money will be an issue. ARU is very money-centric....mainly to keep Wallbies at home in the S14. I believe the S14 should be like the north hemisphere where you can have any player from anywhere. Australia will always struggle with depth 'cause we have way too many sports and the player base at the World Class level is thin.
  9. kauka187

    kauka187 Guest

    theres not enough money full stop for this, at least in nz.
  10. kvt

    kvt Guest

    interesting idea but the south doesn't have the kinda money that europe has
  11. Mr Schlapp

    Mr Schlapp Guest

    The fact is that if players were allowed to represent Australia while playing overseas there would be a mass exodus locally as virtually every player playing in the Super 14 could earn a job and bigger bucks playing in the NH. We would also find a repeat of the situation that affects northern hemisphere teams, that is, the ridiculous situation of the clubs having so much power as to be able to hijack international scheduling
  12. scuubasteve

    scuubasteve Guest

    Changed my tack on this somewhat, as it's been a while since I first had the idea.

    Money is clearly gunna be a hindrance when so many teams need to travel long distance. Introducing private investors into Provincial Rugby would boost the NPC sides. I would also cut the 2nd Tier (European Shield level equivalent) and have players of the non qualifying teams running out for their local clubs during Super weekends. TV money for the Super comp would still be evenly distributed though. The bonus for qualifiaction would simply be the large gate takings that these matches would produce.

    I have also concluded that Pacific Island sides would not work in this comp. But the Japanese teams definitely have the money and fan bases to make Top League teams work.

    Stick with 24 teams in 4 pools of 6. That's 5 home and 5 away games.
    6 teams from each country. Salary caps and private investment would make for an even playing field. Players can play for any team in any country but you get a salary cap discount for having locally based players and Tier2&3 players on your books.

    This last point would mean that players from the Pacific Islands, North America and Asia (as well as other smaller developing rugby nations) could get more players into pro rugby.
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