Peters favours S15 derbies

2012-02-22 19:41

Sydney - Super Rugby teams will have to change the way they manage their squads to cope with the longest ever season in the southern hemsiphere's annual provincial championship, according to SANZAR chief Greg Peters.

There were rumblings of an injury crisis in New Zealand last year after a new format was introduced with a five-team conference in each of the three SANZAR countries and a commensurate increase in hard-fought local derbies.

Although there will be no more matches this year than last, the season stretches from its launch on Friday to the final on August 4 with a three-week international break in June.

That makes for an extremely arduous season for the top players, who are also likely to play Test rugby, and increases the likelihood teams will have to use all the playing resources available to them.

"I think it's going to require a different management of those squads with the international players going off for three weeks and coming back, possibly with injuries, and the young players continuing to train," Peters told Reuters in an interview.

"I think it's going to be very much suck and see how the coaches and teams manage that.

"There is, under the new format, less travel and more domestic games and perhaps that three-week window will give our players who aren't involved in internationals a chance to refresh before the final three weeks of round robin and the finals."

Peters, who was appointed to run SANZAR on the eve of the last Super Rugby season, said results of last year's changes was positive with crowds at local derbies up on the matches they replaced.

"I think year one of the new format was largely a big success," he said.

"That's what the fans have wanted to see is the local derbies, mate against mate... they're loving it and to have that home and away every year is a great benefit.

"It was really positive in the Australian market, solid in South Africa and some issues in New Zealand with the crowds, a bit of World Cup fatigue and people's money gone and earthquakes and so on."

Last year's deadly Christchurch earthquake left the seven-times champions Crusaders homeless and added to problems caused by some disappointing crowds in New Zealand.

Peters is hoping, however, for a World Cup dividend this year in his native land.

"The All Blacks winning the World Cup is very important for New Zealand, not only in a rugby but also in a country context," he said.

"Hopefully we can use some of the euphoria around that and take it into Super Rugby and certainly there's an added sense of anticipation about this season's competition.

"At the end of the of the day we don't control that, it's down to New Zealand rugby and their own franchises to market the competition and hopefully some of that goodwill and euphoria will carry over to Super Rugby."

Peters has already scotched South African hopes of an extra franchise to allow the Southern Kings to join a 16-team competition from next year, and said expansion was highly unlikely to be revisited for another three years.

"The new conference format system has, by its nature, an equal number teams in each country or it doesn't work," he said.

"And we have sold that format to our broadcasters and commercial partners through to 2015 so that is the next time we could realistically consider expansion."

One result of the Crusaders' plight last season was their match against South Africa's Sharks in front of 35 000 at Twickenham in London.

At the time, Peters was quoted as saying he would like to see more such matches but now says there are major obstacles to a repeat.

"London was a huge success in showcasing Super Rugby as a brand in the northern hemisphere. In terms of commercial success, not so much," he said.

"Looking forward, we would want to be pretty careful about how often we did that. We've sold those games to broadcaster and commercial partners in our own territories.

"And also the fans, they want to see their teams playing at home not in London. So there are some pretty big factors commercially and in terms of brand that would determine whether we would do that again in the same way.

"You do it for brand purposes to reap potential commercial benefits in the future but that's got to be balanced against what you've sold and what your fans want."


  • Thomas - 2012-02-22 20:17

    We don't want to see local derbies, we have the Currie Cup for that!! This guy is an Aussie and they have nothing els, plus this system gives them two teams in the top six!! The old system of round robbin was a better option!!!

      Patrick - 2012-02-23 02:42

      totally agree!!

      Jason - 2012-02-23 07:50

      I agree, but the aussies dont have a currie cup this is the problem. I think that SARU need to look at it.

      zterblanche - 2012-02-23 09:52

      @Thomas, I believe Peters is an kiwi not an aussie.

  • Bielie - 2012-02-22 22:02

    Wat 'n hoop strond.

  • hugo.naude - 2012-02-22 23:56

    Seems like dingo dung makes a very strong tobacco ... and this numbskull has been smoking too much of it ... The local derby format has NOT been good in SA ... we do NOT want to see "mate against mate" We want to see our boys hammering the Ozzies and their cousins accross the tasman ... but that is what the Ozies fear most.

  • Jason - 2012-02-23 07:54

    It was the one thing that upset me about last season, we didn't play all the overseas teams. I prefer supporting the SA teams against the over seas sides. I understand the logistics surrounding conference rugby, but what was wrong with the old format?

  • Pieter - 2012-02-23 08:46

    Money in their pockets is the only reason for this format. Beacause all local derby's will attract more spectators. The question then is will the same amount of people attend a Kings vs Bulls game at Loftus than a Lions vs Bulls game. Even in PE/East Londen they will never get the same amount of crowd in their stadium than in Loftus, Ellis Park, etc (never mind the fact that the standard of rugby is not up to S15). Unless they give the tickets away and loose the revenue.

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