Loffie: USA not quite ready for Super Rugby
Cape Town - A coach with first-hand experience of American rugby says the country is not quite ready to enter a team in Super Rugby.
SANZAAR is in the middle of a detailed strategic review to determine the future of the competition and a recent report indicated that one possibility explored by the governing body was the addition of at least one US team.
However Eugene ‘Loffie’ Eloff, a former coach of American professional side Austin Huns, said rugby in the United States is still some way off the standard of the southern hemisphere.
“I think if they entered a national team then they could be competitive. American rugby is making a big effort but they are still far from where they should be. It will be a mismatch if an American club had to play (Super Rugby),” Eloff told Netwerk24.
Eloff, who formerly coached teams like the Junior Springboks, the Lions and Boland, led the Huns to the US National Rugby Championship last year before quitting his role to return to South Africa.
He said support for rugby in America remains small.
“There were 1 500 people at the final I was involved in. With America’s new professional league, Major League Rugby, the figures are a little better and still growing."
Eloff added that the challenge for USA Rugby is to get more American kids involved in the game.
He also noted that funds are not as readily available as some people may perceive.
“Clubs are mainly financed by private investors and the budgets are quite small.”
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos on Monday confirmed the organisation was busy with a detailed strategic planning process that has the aim of "producing a road map for the competition’s future formats up to and including 2030”.
Marinos, however, insisted that talks of an American team joining Super Rugby were premature.
"Potential expansion into new markets for example should not be confused with only an increase in teams. We are already in the process of taking the established product to new markets. Matches being played in Singapore, Hong Kong, Fiji and Samoa are examples of this, Marinos added.
“We are especially mindful at present that we have just come out of a process that has seen a contraction of Super Rugby. The introduction of new teams or any form of expansion would need to meet a defined set of criteria that have been established."