'Super Rugby' 2021



  • Let's assume for the purpose of this exercise that Super Rugby as we know it, is kaput.

    There's been plenty of media around this and with so much speculation going on, under the current circumstances and with the pre-Covid 19 talk around SA going a different way anyway, let's run with the concept that South African involvement is no longer tenable.

    What is everyones' preferred model for 2021? Heaps of different things have been suggested, from a 'super-charged' season-long NPC (I'd love to see it this season in lieu of an abbreviated NZ-only Super Rugby comp), to a NZ and Australian comp, to the latter plus Argentina and then also something involving Japan and/or the Pacific Island nations.

    I'm not going to go through why each of these models would or wouldn't work. I have a clear favourite, although a few moons have to align for it to happen.

    What's certain is that any comp will involve five Kiwi franchises and at least four Australian teams. I say at least four because this could be a window of opportunity for the Western Force. It should also involve the Jaguares. Last years' beaten finalists have proven their worth as competitors and probably now as a drawcard, and we'd need the income from Argentinian TV rights. So that's 10 or 11 sides.

    Without SA which provided the bulk of the all-important TV rights monies, we need another large nation with an interest, a playing base, finances and within striking distance of the South Pacific region. None of the Island nations fit that bill. The solution is obvious: Japan.

    Problem is, it's been tried and for whatever reason didn't work (for Saanzar at least). But this isn't now Saanzar. It could however be Janzar. As long as this new iteration of SR didn't clash with the Top League, I think it could be put to the JRU that they could enter 4-5 Kiwi-style franchises made up of 3-4 Top League sides each (I think there are now 16?). It lenghthens their season for sure, but no more than ours, or Australia's, and let's be honest, the physicality of the Top League isn't to the same level of SR, and possibly not even quite to the level of the NPC, so this season isn't going to break guys. An incentive could be a commitment to regular games between Japan, NZ, Australia and Argentina, possibly even entry into the Rugby Championship in lieu of their bunnies South Africa.

    Surely a heavy rather than half-hearted Japanese involvement in SR and TRC would yeild financial dividends and secure the future of these competitions and help us to retain players. It also opens up the possibility of the 4-5 Japanese teams signing a limited number of NZ players (on a 'sabbatical' basis) who could still be available for NZ, rather than losing them to European clubs. A bonus could be that these guys - if not selected for NZ - then come back and play NPC.

    In an ideal world I'd like to see the Force return, although it does worry me how thin Australia's playing stocks would be when split five ways, plus five Japanese teams and the Jaguares (I could imagine though the Argentine RU could argue for another team or teams). That'd be 16 sides. It'd be a round robin, but I'd have two bye weekends for each side starting maybe two to three rounds in and completed with two to three rounds to go. This makes it a 17 week round robin and gives you a start and finish when you don't have any messy games-in-hand disparity. There wouldn't be any garbage conference systems and my finals series would be eight teams over three weeks (QF, SF and final). Total length 20 weeks. Let's say we had this comp this year, starting on Friday the 14th of February it would be completed on Saturday the 27th of June. A week off and then we host an in-bound tour for 3-4 weeks and get into TRC at the end of July or early August perhaps after another small gap. All going well, the last few weeks of the NPC we have full-strength provinces.

    In terms of time zones, Japan works well for Australia and NZ but we would potentially lose some audience in Europe as games in SA were at a good time for them. The gains in Japan could outweigh that loss though.

    Thoughts?



  • @shark said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    What's certain is that any comp will involve five Kiwi franchises and at least four Australian teams. I say at least four because this could be a window of opportunity for the Western Force. It should also involve the Jaguares. Last years' beaten finalists have proven their worth as competitors and probably now as a drawcard, and we'd need the income from Argentinian TV rights. So that's 10 or 11 sides.

    Not sure about the Jaguares. The timezone is ok but the travel counts against them



  • Is there a logical way to split Japan into 4/5 teams?

    The Top League has 16 teams. Four TL teams per super team? I assume that would be difficult because they are company teams



  • Air NZ won't be flying the Auckland-Buenos Aires route either so flights to and from Argentina will become even more restricted.



  • Happy to incude Japan if they take it seriously. If it's the current situation, then i am not interested.

    No to Argentina. Timezone good for watching, but the travel is fucked.



  • I'd also mandate that multiple Trans-Tasman games be played on or around ANZAC Day, and at Easter and Queens' Birthday games be spread over the entire long weekend.

    Lastly, as I'm just figuring this out as I go, some Thursday night and/or Sunday evening games could be played when there are full rounds ie early and late in the season. For variety and to help spread 8 games around particularly if the Jaguares are playing in Australasia or Japan as you'd have all game in a similar time zone. The 8 games could be Thursday night, Friday night x 2, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night x 2, Sunday morning in Argentina or Sunday afternoon if they're touring and then finally a Sunday evening game.



  • @shark said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    I'd also mandate that multiple Trans-Tasman games be played on or around ANZAC Day, and at Easter and Queens' Birthday games be spread over the entire long weekend.

    Lastly, as I'm just figuring this out as I go, some Thursday night and/or Sunday evening games could be played when there are full rounds ie early and late in the season. For variety and to help spread 8 games around particularly if the Jaguares are playing in Australasia or Japan as you'd have all game in a similar time zone. The 8 games could be Thursday night, Friday night x 2, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night x 2, Sunday morning in Argentina or Sunday afternoon if they're touring and then finally a Sunday evening game.

    Spot on!

    That'd be even better with 12 sides going at it -- Thursday, Fri x2 Sat x2, Sunday (anytime).



  • Is the Top League going to keep the same season? At the moment it clashes with SR, and we saw what the Sunwolves were reduced to.



  • @Bovidae said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    Is the Top League going to keep the same season? At the moment it clashes with SR, and we saw what the Sunwolves were reduced to.

    That's possibly one of the ducks to be lined up, but if the JRU were incentivised to do so, I'm sure it'd be feasible to move it a few weeks.



  • @shark said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    @Bovidae said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    Is the Top League going to keep the same season? At the moment it clashes with SR, and we saw what the Sunwolves were reduced to.

    That's possibly one of the ducks to be lined up, but if the JRU were incentivised to do so, I'm sure it'd be feasible to move it a few weeks.

    that would be some incentive. i think they are doing okay for themselves, and might not see why they need to change.



  • @mariner4life You don't reckon if they were offered at least one annual home test vs NZ/Australia/Argentina, or entry to TRC, that'd be enough? I certainly think the latter would do the trick.



  • @shark The 2020 Top League started in Jan and runs until at least May. Quite an overlap there.



  • @Bovidae wasn't it moved for the RWC for some reason?



  • @Bovidae Regardless, if the incentive were there......



  • @shark said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    @Bovidae wasn't it moved for the RWC for some reason?

    I think it was but finding info on their "normal" season isn't easy. Maybe @gt12 knows.



  • For 2021, I think start with an ANZ tournament. Less likely to be disrupted by travel and pandemic issues, so there's more certainty that the competition will be completed.

    Either 5 NZ & 3 Oz teams, or perhaps 6 & 4. Too many Oz teams just means they get stomped, which I enjoy but probably isn't conducive to garnering a following in Oz given their love of winners.

    Double round robin, home and away, semis and a final. If the playoffs need to be bigger in a 10 team competition, go top 5, with the old league system.



  • @mariner4life said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    Happy to incude Japan if they take it seriously. If it's the current situation, then i am not interested.

    No to Argentina. Timezone good for watching, but the travel is fucked.

    Argentina might struggle to even play 'friendlies' for the forseeable future too.



  • @Bovidae said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    Is the Top League going to keep the same season? At the moment it clashes with SR, and we saw what the Sunwolves were reduced to.

    I would split 5 teams from the Top league, so have 5 in Super, plus the red and white pools in the Top league as it currently stands (with one extra somewhere or one more added).

    Whether companies would go for that or not, I don't know, but that seems the best option. They could then have all teams participate in the cup competition later in the year if they wished (and even use that as a promotion/relegation competition if they wished).



  • To add to this, if we went down this road, I'd allow kiwi players to play for any Super rugby team and be available for the ABs. We'd have big names go to Japan, where they would earn serious coin, and suddenly the JP sides would be very strong. We could easily have the best product then too, and fuck up the NH by keeping the best players around, plus extend the number of players available for the ABs.



  • I'm not interested in international club/franchise rugby.

    Unfortunately we may still be lumped with Australia if the trans-tasman bubble comes into being, so no incentive to totally sever the Super Rugby ties/model.

    I love the NPC, but don't think it should become the future professional model as its charm was that it was representative rugby. Apart from being unaffordable, professional sport needs to be club/based rather the representative team based. And the amateur representative unions should be shielded from the dangers of prefessionalism and left to do what they should do - reward the 15 best club players in the province with rep rugby, plus youth, womens rugby etc.

    I would love to see a professional domestic competition based on 'franchises' which are based on old provincial lines. With ownership by the provinces as well as by fan membership. Something like a hybrid of the original Super 12 along with the AFL membership system, or the Bundesliga 50+1 ownership model (minimum 50+1 % ownership by members).

    And below this, an amateur NPC still exists, and amateur club rugby.
    Each 'franchise' needs a minimum of 2 NPC provinces (to seperate their identity from princes).
    Ownership is by the amatuer unions, plus members - to give ownership and buy in from community. But these are not for profit structures.

    So I would end up splitting some of the existing provinces, and combining some of the others. Getting a preferably 32 team amateur competition (2 divisions of 16 with: 2 pools of 8, or 4 pools of 4 - so amateurs play as a cheap cheery on top at the end of the club season)

    So, in my dreams. Something like this:
    11 team Domestic Professional League

    • North Auckland (Amateur unions: Northland, North Harbour)
    • Auckland (Amateur unions: Auckland Isthmus, Waitakere)
    • Counties Manukau (Amateur unions: Manukau, Franklin) proper Manuakau, Otara, Mangere, Otahuhu, Pakuranga move south
    • Waikato (Amateur unions: Hamilton, Thames Valley, King Country)
    • BOP (Amateur unions: Coastline, BOP Lakes)
    • Eastlands (Amateur unions: Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, East Cape)
    • LNI (Amateur unions: (Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu)
    • Wellington (Amateur unions: Wellington, Ho-Kap)
    • Tasman (Amateur unions: (Westland, Nelson Bays, Marlborough)
    • Canterbury (Amateur unions: Christchurch, South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury, North Canterbury)
    • Otago (Amateur unions: Dunedin, Otago Country, Southland, North Otago)


  • @Rapido missed a trick by not including the existing infrastructure and jersey of the HB/Manawatu partnership



  • @Rapido said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    I love the NPC, but don't think it should become the future professional model as its charm was that it was representative rugby. Apart from being unaffordable, professional sport needs to be club/based rather the representative team based. And the amateur representative unions should be shielded from the dangers of prefessionalism and left to do what they should do - reward the 15 best club players in the province with rep rugby, plus youth, womens rugby etc.

    i can't agree enough with this sentence. If we acknowledge that the NPC as it was is dead forever, then we need to totally move it back in time, as a purely representative competition, rather than the bastardised half-pregnant beast it has become.



  • @mariner4life said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    @Rapido missed a trick by not including the existing infrastructure and jersey of the HB/Manawatu partnership

    The Tararuas block that silly merge.
    But I still envisage LNI being the biggest shit fight.



  • @Rapido

    Is LNI some latin abbreviation for shithole?



  • So above. I have actually ended up with 30 amateur unions (rather than 32).

    I would try to envisage. Normal clubs season, then a proper amateur NPC of the best club players. 30 teams could be either 3 or 4 divisions. Or 2 divsions, top 16 / bottom 14. Split into pools. Amateur rep rugby can’t last too long. People have jobs. Want it to be like current Heartland Champs – Maybe 2 months of commitment by the amateurs in Augus / Sep. But hopefully without huge NZRU subsidies.

    The professional rugby structure.
    11 pro teams, 10 home and away games each = means 20 games each plus 2 byes. Over in 22 weeks. Then playoffs.

    The SH international club competition can be a 2 week comp in a single city. Champs from NZ, Aus, Saf, and the South American league (or just ARG if league becomes financial casualty). Play semis and a final only. In one location. E.g. rotating; Buenos Aires > Saf city > Sydney etc > NZ city.

    Still fit in international windows.

    I’m still up for the TRC, by SANZAAR. Just not Super Rugby.

    24 weeks domestic (22 weeeks regular plus 2 weeks finals
    2 weeks SH clubs comp
    X weeks international rugby.

    Could have rugby done in 8 to 9 months, and fuck off out of the cricket season. Would only have to listen to Phil Kearns commentary at most 2 or 3 games, that’s a HUUUGE selling point.

    This relies on NH rugby to implode financially. NZRU to spend their $100m in a mega domestic gamble .....

    Ownership example, using North Auckland: 20% Northland, 20 North Harbour, 20% NZRU, 20 % membership, 20% private ownership (if you can find some suckers) etc.

    NZRU would still probably need to centrally contract the best 30 odd players.

    Oh, and no shit jerseys in my dream comp. Clear patterns, no duck shooting camouflage or blends or fades or swirls.



  • @gt12

    Lower North Island





  • @KiwiMurph Don Mackinnon has impressed me from what I've seen from him. Clear, decisive and effective. I'm stoked he's leading the Blues



  • @nzzp yeah I agree completely. It's not a coincidence the Blues are suddenly not a basketcase now they have some decent leadership up the top.



  • @KiwiMurph and begs the question how the incompetence of the previous regime was able to hold on so long.



  • All these models would actually just be shit or could actually be decent but are too impractical. The best model was what was actually going to happen in 2021 - 4 Saffa teams, 4 Aus, 5 NZ and Jaguares. That gave us a 14 team round robin.

    If there are no South African teams next year, keep it simple. Add in the 4 Aussie teams and go from there.



  • @taniwharugby said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    @KiwiMurph and begs the question how the incompetence of the previous regime was able to hold on so long.

    Well, they wanted to reappoint Tana (who I idolised as a rugby player), and were divided over JK. Having seen JK as a pundit, I cannot believe he got anywhere near a head coaching role. Legend, hell of a top bloke, but no analysis skills that I've seen displayed ever.

    But yeah, it took a while but the board changes of a few years ago have led to a massive step up in the back office, and that flows through to the team and players.



  • @Rapido said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    I'm not interested in international club/franchise rugby.

    Unfortunately we may still be lumped with Australia if the trans-tasman bubble comes into being, so no incentive to totally sever the Super Rugby ties/model.

    I love the NPC, but don't think it should become the future professional model as its charm was that it was representative rugby. Apart from being unaffordable, professional sport needs to be club/based rather the representative team based. And the amateur representative unions should be shielded from the dangers of prefessionalism and left to do what they should do - reward the 15 best club players in the province with rep rugby, plus youth, womens rugby etc.

    I would love to see a professional domestic competition based on 'franchises' which are based on old provincial lines. With ownership by the provinces as well as by fan membership. Something like a hybrid of the original Super 12 along with the AFL membership system, or the Bundesliga 50+1 ownership model (minimum 50+1 % ownership by members).

    And below this, an amateur NPC still exists, and amateur club rugby.
    Each 'franchise' needs a minimum of 2 NPC provinces (to seperate their identity from princes).
    Ownership is by the amatuer unions, plus members - to give ownership and buy in from community. But these are not for profit structures.

    So I would end up splitting some of the existing provinces, and combining some of the others. Getting a preferably 32 team amateur competition (2 divisions of 16 with: 2 pools of 8, or 4 pools of 4 - so amateurs play as a cheap cheery on top at the end of the club season)

    So, in my dreams. Something like this:
    11 team Domestic Professional League

    • North Auckland (Amateur unions: Northland, North Harbour)
    • Auckland (Amateur unions: Auckland Isthmus, Waitakere)
    • Counties Manukau (Amateur unions: Manukau, Franklin)
    • Waikato (Amateur unions: Hamilton, Thames Valley, King Country)
    • BOP (Amateur unions: Coastline, BOP Lakes)
    • Eastlands (Amateur unions: Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, East Cape)
    • LNI (Amateur unions: (Taranaki, Wanganui, Manawatu)
    • Wellington (Amateur unions: Wellington, Ho-Kap)
    • Tasman (Amateur unions: (Westland, Nelson Bays, Marlborough)
    • Canterbury (Amateur unions: Christchurch, South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury, North Canterbury)
    • Otago (Amateur unions: Dunedin, Otago Country, Southland, North Otago)

    Wow, impressive but absolutely fantasy. I was hoping to discuss ideas that have more than a 0.0000008% chance of coming to fruition.



  • @Godder said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    For 2021, I think start with an ANZ tournament. Less likely to be disrupted by travel and pandemic issues, so there's more certainty that the competition will be completed.

    Either 5 NZ & 3 Oz teams, or perhaps 6 & 4. Too many Oz teams just means they get stomped, which I enjoy but probably isn't conducive to garnering a following in Oz given their love of winners.

    Double round robin, home and away, semis and a final. If the playoffs need to be bigger in a 10 team competition, go top 5, with the old league system.

    Where does the money come from to pay the players with this model? Without the African TV money, we need something to fill the breach.



  • @gt12 said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    To add to this, if we went down this road, I'd allow kiwi players to play for any Super rugby team and be available for the ABs. We'd have big names go to Japan, where they would earn serious coin, and suddenly the JP sides would be very strong. We could easily have the best product then too, and fuck up the NH by keeping the best players around, plus extend the number of players available for the ABs.

    Yep, what I said but in a little more detail. And more motivation for Japan to make it work.



  • @shark said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    @Godder said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    For 2021, I think start with an ANZ tournament. Less likely to be disrupted by travel and pandemic issues, so there's more certainty that the competition will be completed.

    Either 5 NZ & 3 Oz teams, or perhaps 6 & 4. Too many Oz teams just means they get stomped, which I enjoy but probably isn't conducive to garnering a following in Oz given their love of winners.

    Double round robin, home and away, semis and a final. If the playoffs need to be bigger in a 10 team competition, go top 5, with the old league system.

    Where does the money come from to pay the players with this model? Without the African TV money, we need something to fill the breach.

    If only there were a country, newly interested in Rugby, with a similar timezone to ours and a massive population. That sure would be helpful to save us travelling to South Africa 🙂

    also, SA ain't going north. Their season's don't match up, and I don't think they have enough money to extend the longest trip from Italy to SA. NZ/Japan may have a better chance of finding a compromise on seasons.



  • I agree with @shark that the whole key to making it all work is Japan. I love the idea of expanding AB eligibility for any Super side in a "Pacific Rim" competition withe South Africa focused up in Europe.

    The Saffers are already one foot in one foot out with some of their provincial teams playing in Europe, given the world is increasingly divided up along TV market lines where time zones matter more than hemispheres I reckon we let them go.

    5 NZ teams, 4 Aussie, 4 Japanese, 2 Argie, 1 Pacific Island (home games in Auckland/Sydney, but preseason matches in the Islands) = 16 teams. 16 week round robin (everyone gets a bye week), straight top 4 SF then final, all done in 18 weeks. Travel tough but doable given no SA involvement. Scope to include US/Canada teams further down the track.

    None of this home/away rubbish that bloats the schedule, to then try and pare it back with a conference system. The 6 Nations alternates home and away every year and the luck of the draw plays a big part and people live with that. We can too.

    Key to making it work is integrating with the Japanese club system. Tough but should be possible, they should be massively keen to grow the game after the world cup there and the great strides the national team has made.



  • @shark said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    @Godder said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    For 2021, I think start with an ANZ tournament. Less likely to be disrupted by travel and pandemic issues, so there's more certainty that the competition will be completed.

    Either 5 NZ & 3 Oz teams, or perhaps 6 & 4. Too many Oz teams just means they get stomped, which I enjoy but probably isn't conducive to garnering a following in Oz given their love of winners.

    Double round robin, home and away, semis and a final. If the playoffs need to be bigger in a 10 team competition, go top 5, with the old league system.

    Where does the money come from to pay the players with this model? Without the African TV money, we need something to fill the breach.

    TV rights and probably a pared back cost structure for everyone.



  • @TeWaio said in 'Super Rugby' 2021:

    I agree with @shark that the whole key to making it all work is Japan

    I'm fairly convinced that Japan is the key to financial security for NZ and the other Pacific Island unions. The timing is perfect to build on their RWC success.



  • Genuine question - why would this competition automatically include Australia as a partner?

    If they cannot bring a big dollar TV contract or 2000-era level crowds I am not sure why we would want to be tethered to the hip with them and enter into a formal partnership with them and be exposed to their infighting. If Wales exited the Pro 14 the answer wouldn't be adding a bunch more Italian teams and a strategic alignment between Italy and Ireland.

    I am not against having Australian teams in an expanded competition but they enter on the basis to the Warriors in the NRL, Breakers in the NBL or proposed NZ Big Bash teams.

    Japan is a different story as they can bring $$$ (in-lieu of a yen sign on my keyboard).

    If the Boks go from SAANZAR then it is probably in our best interests to peruse a wholly independent model of setting test fixtures and to a large extent auction them off to the highest bidder rather than play a goofy 3N with an ailing Australia and Argentina with 50% YoY inflation.


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