Super Rugby set to lose its appeal

2021-02-21 21:29:21 GMT

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Super Rugby set to lose its appeal after South Africa withdraws from competition

It was a real blow to rugby when it was announced last year that the South African Rugby Union had decided to pull their teams out of the Super Rugby competition, which they had competed in since 1996. In what seemed like the blink of any eye, gone were the days of high-intensity matches between the cream of the Southern Hemisphere rugby crop.

Worse still, it felt as if SARU were cutting off their nose to spite their face after feeling slighted by the powers that be of New Zealand Rugby. Indeed, offence was taken after New Zealand Rugby didn't consult SARU on their decision to make Super Rugby a more domestic affair.

Naturally, New Zealand Rugby saw it differently and said that ultimately they weren't surprised. NZR accused SARU of wanting to join the Pro14 in the Northern Hemisphere for some time and only waited for the most opportune moment to do so. It will come as no real shock to see that there are two sides to this story. But on the balance of things and having weighed up both sides, it does still feel like the South African Rugby Union were a bit hasty in their decision-making.

Perhaps the hierarchy of South African rugby felt they deserved more respect given that they are the current world champions. However, they've ended up making the organization looking quite volatile and thin-skinned.

The long and short of it is that Super Rugby will suffer now given that the best club teams in the world are leaving for the Northern Hemisphere tournaments. But make no mistake, the South African fans will also be missing out. They will soon find that the age-old rivalries that they shared with teams from Australia and New Zealand won't be forged overnight with teams from Europe.

Perhaps they won't even be given the time to build up a narrative between their new opposition considering how likely it is that, at some point, SARU will ask to re-join the Super Rugby competition. That is a scenario that isn't as far-fetched as you might think seeing that the South African side the Cheetahs - who joined the Pro14 a few years ago - are now seeking a return to Super Rugby. Things are certainly up in the air, but we will have to wait and see how this new era plays out.

Meanwhile in Australia, footy lovers of a different kind eagerly await the return of the AFL. Indeed, with preseason heating up, the thought of Aussie Rules returning has risen to a fever pitch with the season only six weeks away. The narrative that is dominating headlines Down Under revolves around Richmond and whether they can make it a hat-trick of Grand Final wins. Of course, the latest Aussie Rules betting has them as favourites at 3/1 to do so, but there is a feeling that the winds of change will blow through the gum trees across the vast Australian land this season.

It looks to be a season of change for not just the AFL but also Super Rugby. A new dawn is ushered in now that the South Africans won't be making their way across the Indian Ocean to compete against their oldest foes anymore. We're told the only constant in life is change, but this one does feel unnecessarily forced.


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