The idea of a European Super Rugby tournament is currently being touted and we’re hugely in favour. Here’s why…
1.Quality of rugby
Let’s face it, the Pro12, and to a lesser extent the Premiership and Top 14 suffer from some dead rubber games due to a huge disparity in quality. You only have to look at how the two Italian sides in the Pro12 continue to struggle year on year, or at London Welsh going an entire Premiership campaign without a victory to see how poor this can be.
By establishing a league that includes only the best teams in Europe, there is an opportunity to ensure there are no ‘dead rubber’ games as all teams would be of a similar quality. The added competition would also hopefully help to ensure that each season saw a variety of different teams at the top of the table instead of the same familiar faces every year.
The Rugby World Cup has highlighted how the quality of rugby in the northern hemisphere is someway behind those currently playing in the southern hemisphere, and a European Super Rugby tournament could be just the way to address that. There is no doubting that regular exposure to top class rugby will have a knock-on effect.
In addition to this, players will be able to spend more time together during the club season as the reduced number of teams will mean a greater concentration of internationals in each team. This would allow combinations to develop effectively which can then translate onto the international scene.
3.Global rugby season
With the reduced number of games, and change in format, this would be the perfect opportunity for both the northern and southern hemisphere rugby seasons to align to create a global rugby season. The benefits of this are undeniable, but there would also be the opportunity to have more games being played during drier months in Europe.
The global season would also allow better scheduling of internationals, ensuring less disruption to club competitions. It would also remove any issues surrounding the start and end dates of the Rugby World Cup. The drier conditions could also help greatly improve the handling skills and style of rugby played in Europe.
The current European club season can be somewhat long-winded and often sees fans drop off during the middle of the season. Between the league, European cups and then domestic cups, teams can potentially end up playing in excess of 35 games a season which can become a real turnoff for fans.
The other issue is that domestic cups often see bit-part teams playing one another. A Super Rugby style competition would ensure that the quality of every game was top notch, and also reduce the current saturation of live rugby. This would hopefully help ensure steady crowds for each side involved.
5.Bypassing salary cap issues
The Premiership is currently experienced a number of issues surrounding the salary cap, and certain teams adherence to it. A Super Rugby style competition would mean that a salary cap was no longer necessary as clubs could spend whatever they wanted knowing that the other sides involved would also be able to do the same.
This would mean that clubs left behind in their national leagues would be able to maintain the salary cap and continue to compete on a more neutral playing field. This would help avoid the current situation we have where year after year, the same few clubs end up topping the table, often as a result of superior spending power.
6.Increase global interest
Currently it’s hard to attract fans in emerging territories such as the USA and Japan as a result of clubs and players not really having pulling power like we see in football. By creating an elite league packed full of the world’s best talent, we would end up with a much more marketable product that would help rugby break into these lucrative countries.
Because of the reduced game time, there would also be more opportunity to play internationals and club games in the likes of Japan and the Americas which would no doubt help with the development of Tier 2 nations. Longer term, there would also be the opportunity for the likes of Georgia and Romania to enter club sides into the competition.
7.Focus on local tournaments
By removing the bigger sides with unlimited spending power, there would be the opportunity for clubs who currently sit mid-table in the domestic leagues to begin developing squads that can compete. They also wouldn’t have to worry about stretching themselves financially in order to simply be able to keep up.
It would also open up opportunities for teams in the second tiers to take a step up to professionalism and play quality competition on a more regular basis. Sides competing in the Super Rugby competition would also be able to loan players to teams who remain in the domestic competitions to help them develop in a competitive environment.