Should we give Super Rugby the flick forever?



A hand grenade was dropped by the head of rugby in Australia, Hamish McLennan: “All bets are off.”

Australia may ditch the Super Rugby from 2024 onwards and like the NRL and AFL, focus on a domestic competition.

Now that is intriguing. And what would a domestic competition look like?

For a start, it can’t be the NRC. Nor can it be Super Rugby AU. Both have flaws.

Tim Horan is correct. When you only have five Super AU teams, it gets boring very quickly when teams only play each other twice.

And the problem with NRC is it dilutes the competition. When the Wallabies had best success, we had a concentration of talent at the Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies.

From these teams we had combinations and the backbone of a World Cup-winning Wallabies. It is essential that we develop combinations before taking on the All Blacks and European powerhouses.

So, what might our own domestic competition look like? And how do we concentrate our talent?

Here is what I would look strongly at.

Nine teams. Two more than the current Super Rugby AU. We concentrate on our heartland regions in Brisbane and Sydney and leverage off the most highly marketable club names from Sydney and Brisbane – Randwick and Brothers.

Now, people will complain about clubs like Randwick or Brothers entering the fold. Don’t care. You go with your most marketable names possible. Names with long history to give the competition better pedigree. My team is the Sunnybank Dragons, for what it is worth.

Not only that, but we ensure the University of Queensland, University of Sydney and Bond University are brought into the fold. This shows them respect and provides three strong team sponsorships well into the future.

The NRC would be as follows:

1. Western Force
2. ACT Brumbies
3. Melbourne Rebels

4. Northern Sydney Rays
5. NSW Country (perpetual sponsor – University of Sydney)
6. Randwick

7. Brisbane Brothers (Northern Brisbane – Sunshine Coast)
8. Queensland Country (perpetual sponsor – Bond University: Southside Brisbane to GC)
9. Western Brisbane (perpetual sponsor – University of Queensland)

Each team plays each other twice with bye rounds. This delivers our domestic competition. Top five finals system.

Now, for the next key component: a best-of-three State of Union series (Waratahs versus Reds). This would ideally take place after the Grand Final. The important thing here is we have two champions and not undermined by getting dominated by NZ teams.

The revised NRC will deliver an Australian champion.

The State of Union will deliver an interstate champion.

Next onto the Test matches and Bledisloe. And hopefully more winning.

One thing I’m not sure about is a post-State of Union trans-Tasman title fight between the NZ Super Rugby champion and State of Union champion. On one hand we would have a concentration of talent for the first time in a long time taking on the best NZ Super Rugby team.

But on the other hand, would that detract from the Bledisloe, or would we roll straight into Bledisloe?