culling of two South African Super Rugby teams is a good thing for South
Africa has never had the quality in depth to justify six franchises. Four is
the maximum in South Africa if the motivation is that each of the regions can
be commercially successfully and actually win the tournament.
expansion from the original four to five weakened the South African collective
challenge and the addition of the Southern Kings, justified in its philosophy,
was never successfully transferred for the expected favourable outcome.
South African Rugby Union, after consultation with the six existing franchise
CEO’s, will determine which two teams get the chop.
the surface it has to be the Kings and the Cheetahs if commercial feasibility
and franchise player strength are the primary factors.
Cheetahs and Kings will look to play on the emotional aspects of continued
inclusion in Super Rugby. It won’t be enough to save them because financially
neither can justify inclusion and the poor return in results does neither
franchise any favour.
Cheetahs are the domestic champions but there is a massive difference between
Currie Cup and Super Rugby participation. The Kings, given the financial mess
of rugby in the Eastern Cape and the chaos that has played out in the past few
years, don’t have an argument for a stay of execution.
Kings inclusion, in a merger of sorts, would be politically motivated but there
is a commercial and rugby argument that says the primary focus should be to
make the Eastern Cape provinces competitive in the Currie Cup and ensure that
this is the platform to Super Rugby for their best players by way of a draft
have been critical of the South African Rugby Union’s leadership because of its
silence on matters pertaining to the Springboks, the national coaching set-up
and also the lack of information in relation to Super Rugby.
was refreshing to hear SARU CEO Jurie Roux being expressive, informative and
ruthless in his summary of the necessity for a reduction from six to four
was also humility in his wording because there was acknowledgement that South
African rugby’s leadership, through its decision makers, had overestimated the
South African rugby product as a collective and been arrogant to believe the
conveyor belt of producing world class professional players was never ending.
Africa, as a rugby country, doesn’t currently have more than 120 professional
players of the necessary quality to make four competitive squads, whose players
are capable of winning the competition, filling stadiums and attracting
necessary commercial investment.
as the governing body of rugby and custodian of the game, would have been doing
the game’s future considerable damage with an ego-driven decision to continue
with six franchises that invariably produced poor on the field results and
equally inadequate commercial returns within the respective franchises.
Super Rugby and Rugby Championship broadcasting deal is not a SA professional
rugby Trust Fund. There has to be reward for investors and of late there has
just been risk.
leadership has recognized this and what is the greatest positive is that the
CEO (Jurie Roux) and president (Mark Alexander) have spoken publicly about the
comments have been insightful and the articulation has been educational because
there has been honesty applied to the situation. That alone has to be applauded
given the historical non-commitment on issues over the past decade.
rugby was launched in South Africa in 1996 but the game has never functioned
exclusively as a professional sport. There has been so much carry over from the
amateur era and there has simply been too much accommodating of amateur ways.
It has been to the detriment of the sport as a professional enterprise.
reduction to four teams allows for a new thinking, new commercial criteria and
unemotional rugby decisions.
African rugby simply cannot compete with the Euro, the Sterling or the Yen. The
US dollar, in terms of the emerging American market, will also become a factor.
in explaining the overseas player drain, was emphatic about how the player
exodus, which totals more than 300 players (including 65 Springboks), has
softened the core of South African professional rugby.
Springboks will recover and can always survive the overseas player migration,
but the Super Rugby franchises can’t always replace like with like.
only way to attempt to compete with the international market is to reduce the
number of professional players in South Africa and pay them salaries that are
globally competitive. Better players produce better results and better results
produce bigger crowds and a winning team in a filled stadium produces the big
African rugby has this chance to get right what they got wrong in attempting to
be everything to everyone within the 14 provincial unions.
whose Super Rugby winning return is 30 percent, don’t have the right to make
demands. Neither do those franchises who consistently are a financial burden
and a commercial liability to South African rugby.
has finally come to professional rugby in South Africa - and it has to be
ruthless for it to finally be right.
Mark Keohane is a Cape-Town based award-winning rugby specialist and former Springbok Communications Manager. Follow him on Twitter
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Previous Mark Keohane columns on Sport24:
Clap, clap ... Venter's appointment should be applauded
South African rugby NEEDS to host RWC 2023
Why SA can't have 6 Super Rugby teams
Super 12 glory is now Super 18 gory
No winner is SARU's half-cocked overseas policy
Keeping Coetzee sadly no April Fools' joke
Mediocrity must fall!
Overseas based SA players are no traitors!
Sick Boks need more than a new doctor
Joost earned more than a minute's silence