JOHANNESBURG – The 2018 Super Rugby competition has just ended, with the Crusaders claiming a ninth title, following their win against the Lions in the Christchurch final. With six months to go to the start of the 2019 edition, rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen already has a wish-list in place.
An improved SA effort
For three years now it’s only been the Lions who’ve flown the SA flag, by playing in three finals. It’s time the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers joined the party. At least this season the Sharks lived up somewhat to the hype going into the competition, by qualifying for the playoffs. But if truth be told, they shouldn’t have been there at all, not with seven wins from 16 matches. The SA teams need to sort out their coaching teams and get their ducks in a row and get with the programme.
Sort out the format
Every coach, captain, player and fan can see it, but not Sanzaar. Super Rugby needs to change its format and structure. Come on, sort it out. Ditch the conference system, let every team play against every team and change the playoffs structure. Let the team which finishes first go straight to the final, and let number two and three play out for a place in the final, or top four play semi-finals. Let the best teams, with the most log points, get the best chance to win the title.
Get the fans in
This is something every marketing guru is struggling with ... how to get more fans to attend live games. It’s a problem worldwide because of television, match ticket prices and a poor quality product on sale. Somehow Sanzaar need to find the right recipe to get the fans back into the grounds, or individual unions must think about taking certain matches to smaller, local community stadiums, that don’t get much of the action.
No one can do anything about big-name players getting injured and missing several weeks of action, but this is a wish-list and every rugby fan deserves to see the best men play, and regularly, too. This year Eben Etzebeth missed out, and so did Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Courtnall Skosan, Jamba Ulengo, to name a few. It’s unfortunate there are so many injuries in the game nowadays, and one’s got to wonder what the impact is of rugby being played virtually all year-round now.
Fix the Sunwolves
Winning just three out of 16 games is pretty poor and it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better next year; why would they? The experiment of getting the Sunwolves involved hasn’t worked, or rather, it doesn’t look like it’s worked. Maybe there’s a big take-up of rugby in Japan and Singapore because of their Super Rugby team, but maybe not. Sure, they’ve caused the odd upset and embarrassed a team or two, but what’s the point, seriously? Ditch them, I say.
Can SA please unearth a No 9
If you’re a No 9 in South Africa and haven’t been called up to a training squad you must feel very left out because every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to have got a look-in in recent years. A good few have also actually played Test rugby and not been half bad, but no one has stood out and screamed, “I’m world class”. Faf de Klerk is the best by far, but he now plays in Europe. Come on No 9s, show your country you’re the guy to take the Boks forward.
Can’t we consider a draft system
SA rugby bosses apparently want to cut in half the number of professional players in the country. What a good idea, as there are simply too many guys who aren’t good enough who earn a salary because of rugby. But also, there are too many good players who don’t get a chance to show their mettle because they’re playing behind someone “better” at a certain team. Let’s bring in a draft where unions can loan players for Super Rugby, so that the best get action.