More Thoughts About Super Rugby   –  March 2017

The SANZAAR have met. They booked into their luxury suites at their five-star hotel in London, had a really good dinner, slept well, had a super breakfast, great coffee, and then they toddled down to the conference rooms and took their places. They discussed important stuff, they broke for lunch, met some more, talked some more, had tea, more talk, then a good dinner with some fine wines.

 The same story the next day, after a solid night’s sleep, a good breakfast, and another day of meetings, lunches, and talking. They discussed the Accenture report into what was wrong with their Super Rugby “product” and why the fans were staying away.

 And then they told us that they are about to announce changes to Super Rugby. Further details to be unveiled sometime this week..

Why the delay?

Well, you see, they must go home and tell their home unions what is going to happen. As SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos put it:

“Following two days of robust discussion there are a number of tournament considerations that now require further discussion and consultation,” he said.

“This includes final consultation within the National Unions and discussion with key stakeholders that would allow the adoption of changes proposed by the strategic plan.”

“SANZAAR will make a formal statement on the future of the organisation, Super Rugby and the tournament format in the coming days once these further meetings have been concluded.”

In other words, SANZAAR will say nothing at all, as the three home unions: South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, have to approve the any changes, especially any reduction in the number of teams in the competition.

You can be sure the Aussies will not approve any reduction of their five franchise teams, despite all the evidence that they simply do not have the depth needed for more than three teams, they are insisting that they simply MUST have five franchises! You can also be sure that their all-powerful Players Union will refuse to accept such a change.

SA Rugby might also find reasons to object. They might be willing to give up one franchise, but not two. And they are politically beholden to maintain the woeful Kings…

New Zealand will certainly not agree to giving up one of their teams.

So who will it be? We can guess the Sunwolves time as a Super Rugby franchise is over. We can suggest that the Jaguares should go back to plying their trade in Europe. We might hint that the Kings, or the politically more acceptable Cheetahs be dumped…

Or will they do anything at all?

Methinks there are far too many vested interests and personal agendas, Super 18 will stay, but it will be structured differently, again.

In breaking news: Harold Verster of the Cheetahs is hinting that there may be a Super 16, rather than a Super 18, and that his Cheetahs are safe. That makes no sense whatsoever, but SANZAAR are not known for logic.


Other News:

Springbok Prop Steven Kitshoff will leave Bordeaux to return to South Africa at the end of the current European season.

SA Rugby worked hard to lure him back to South Africa, allegedly asking Western Province Rugby for financial assistance to secure Kitshoff’s return.

We are told that the 25-year-old Kitshoff was offered a national contract last week, and Western Province and SA Rugby must pay Bordeaux a fee of some sort. This is good news. The South African scrum will be stronger with the red-head in the loosehead position.

We are also told that negotiations are under way for the return of

Marcell Coetzee and Duane Vermeulen to South African rugby, but without a main sponsor for the national team, no negotiations with the players have taken place yet.

Pat Lambie is out with a fractured vertebra in his lower back, suffered in a tackle last weekend. Although not yet certain of the extent of the injury, the Sharks medics say he will be out for six to eight weeks.

He is just one of the Sharks’ casualties after the weekend. Philip van der Walt needs to complete the concussion protocols before he can be released to play again. He has an undisplaced fractured cheekbone and will be out for at least two weeks. Franco Marais and Clement Poitrenaud both will undergo further tests before any decision on their availability will be taken.

On the other side of the scale, there is good news for the Sharks too. Curwin Bosch is certainly showing that he has the talent to be a very big asset in the future.

Nicolas Sanchez has been cited for his airborne assault on Anthony Volmink. Quite how referee Nick Briant, even with the visual evidence of the TV replay, saw it as a “mistimed jump” remains to be explained. The Citing Commissioner saw it as a red card offence, hence the charges against Sanchez. Last year we saw CJ Stander instantly red carded for a similar assault on Pat Lambie!

Michael Leitch has received a one week suspension for his high tackle assault on Ricky Riccitelli. The ref, Brendon Pickerill, saw it as a yellow card, but the City Commissioner saw it as a red card offence. The Foul Play Review Committee agreed with the Citing Commissioner…….

And then they repeated last week’s amazing reduction of a sentence for “an early guilty plea” and “remorse” and his “previously clean record” – all of which are utter nonsense.

It really is time for the SANZAAR judicial process to man up to the task and issue sentences that are in line with World Rugby’s guidelines.

The Crusaders’ come from behind win over the Reds leaves a bit of a bitter taste. They have lost Israel Dagg and Seta Tamanivalu to injuries. Tamanivalu might be ready in a week, his hamstring is responding to treatment, but Dagg must go for an MRI scan on his knee.

Let’s hope that Dagg’s injury is not too serious, it has been a pleasure to watch him play this year!

Dan Carter is finding himself on the wrong end of the fans’ ire at the moment. His partying antics and drink driving arrest have made him less than popular with the Racing supporters. He was booed off the field last weekend when he was subbed after 62 minutes. That is probably the first time he has heard a boo aimed at him!

Nehe Milner-Skudder is out for about six weeks with a foot injury. Sadly, this might rule him out of the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.