Sharks legend Daniel outlines Super Rugby problems

    2018-05-02 09:22

    Lloyd Burnard

    Cape Town - Sharks legend Keegan Daniel, who has announced his retirement from rugby at the end of the year, believes there are numerous problems facing the current Super Rugby format. 

    Now 33, Daniel has earned 119 Super Rugby caps for the Sharks since making his debut all the way back in 2006. 

    READ: Keegan Daniel - The Sharks who saw it all

    Back then, the tournament format was simple.

    There were 14 teams - Super 12 was expanded in 2006 - and everybody played everybody once in the round robin stages with the top four teams on the log progressing to the semi-finals.

    That structure that would last until 2010, but in 2011 when another expansion saw the tournament evolve into Super 15, the Conference system was born. 

    Ever since then, there have been concerns that rugby lovers have struggled to grasp what has been an undoubtedly more complicated schedule. 

    Daniel has seen it all, and like many players past and present, he believes the tournament was at its best before the Conference system took over. 

    "That for me was the best format, where you play everyone once," Daniel told Sport24 last week.

    "It was a true reflection of strength versus strength.

    "Now you've got guys who can qualify for the playoffs if they finish 8th ... you can be average and still have a chance at a playoff. I think the standards need to be different.

    "A lot of fans still don't understand how the system works, but that's for the powers that be to decide."

    Competition structure is just one problem.

    A look at the numerous match venues on any given Saturday confirms that attendance figures remain a major concern in South Africa, Australia and even New Zealand. 

    Speaking from a South African perspective, Daniel has a few ideas on why seeing empty stadiums was becoming more common. 

    "For the consumer, what is different between sitting at home and watching in the comfort of your lounge and going to the stadium?" he said. 

    "I think they've got to create an experience that's not just about the rugby. We need to create an environment that is a lot more family inclusive ... somewhere you want to take your kids."

    Kick-off times, the former Springbok said, play a significant role here.

    "I think the big thing that hurts South Africa is the times of games," he said.

    "When you play games that are 17:00 and onwards ... it's tough for parents to bring their kids out and enjoy it."

    Daniel also believes that sports lovers are being bombarded with content week in and week out, and that they have seemingly limitless options when it comes to television viewing. 

    "There is just so much rugby and so much sport in general," he said.

    "I don't think the rugby is boring. I think it's very exciting and there is some great talent ... I just think there is a lot of rugby.

    "I think it's become a little bit watered down and it needs to be re-looked."

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