No clear favorites, as Super 15 takes its toll

April 29, 2013 in Rugby, Super Rugby

Habana TiredBy this time in the competition last year, the top 6 were pretty much set with about 8 teams still in the running for the top 6 spots.  More or less the same could be said of prior years, with the top teams in the competition being relatively clear between three or four contenders.  This year though, its a little bit different.  Ask me last year this time who will be the champions, I would have said its gonna be between the Chiefs, Stormers and Crusaders.  Ask me now? Well, it can be anyone from the Brumbies, Reds, Crusaders, Chiefs, Bulls, Sharks, Stormers even the Cheetahs. Fact is, the playing field is so level this year, the only certain thing is that the Force, Rebel, Kings and Highlanders will not be making the playoffs.  All the other sides are still in with a chance.

I wonder though if this isn’t another symptom of the most idiotic system ever developed by Sanzar? With professional Rugby players playing physically the thoughest and most demanding rugby on this planet week after week, with little or no time to recover and rehabilitate, it is no wonder that several teams are struggling with many injuries, and that Springbok players like JP Petersen, Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Juandre Kruger, to honestly name but a few, are looking to Japan and France where conditions are much more favorable to the player to prolong their careers.

With the number of top quality players getting injured, moving abroad, and teams rotating players more often, the playing field must be getting more level for the top sides, while the bottom sides just can not keep up with the pace and intensity of the tournament any longer. I am impressed with the way the Cheetahs, as a perinial under performer, has stood up this year.  But injuries to players like Lappies and Lood this past weekend are a stark reminder that depth is what counts in this tournament. Depth, and luck. Cause if your side doesn’t get hit by injury this season, you are lucky…but it might hit you next season. Ask the Sharks…  The Stormers have been there too, but managed to have depth enough to make it to the playoffs.  And the Sharks and the Bulls should have too.   But does the Cheetahs have enough depth? Fortunately it seems Lappies’ and Lood’s injuries are not too serious, and the bye for them is perfectly timed. So hopefully they can maintain their run of luck in terms of injuries this season.

If I was a top Super Rugby player, I would not have thought twice about leaving for abroad to prolong my career, and earn major bucks while doing it.  See how long a player like Joe van Niekerk is still playing in France? In he is a player who has been written off almost a decade ago by the Bok coaches.  Ernst Joubert, Neil de Kock, Brent Russel, all still playing some top quality Rugby in the Northern Hemisphere.  Had they been playing week in and week out of Super Rugby, their playing days would have been long over.

The Super 15 needs to be stopped. It’s to Rugby sustainability what Trawling is to fish sustainability. But do we think SANZAR gives two hoots about the players? Nope.  I mean, as long as there are men on this planet, there will be Rugby players.  The key SANZAR is missing though, is that as long as they keep on with milking every drop of energy and muscle out of the top players the Southern Hemisphere produces, they are weakening the opposition against the Northern Hemisphere, while their longevity i vastly better than ours, and when the scales tip with 60% of our Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies opting to play in their side of the planet, England will become the World Champions….even if they do so with Southern Hemisphere born players who gave up their privilege to play for their country of birth, in lieu of prolonging their careers overseas.

Is it any surprise that a brilliant talent like Timo Swiel has given up the privilege and honor to play for the Baby Boks because he is thinking ahead for the long term? No, its not. And as tough as that decision might have been for him, he will reap the benefits if SANZAR refuses to reduce the workload on the players and start looking after them better.  Something which is unlikely to happen as SANZAR continue to fill their coffers with loads and loads of cash as the insatiable fans just slobber up everything they throw at us. And one day, we will tell our grand kids about things like the rhino’s which roamed the eart, Cheetahs which were the fastest animal on earth, and something called the Currie Cup…

14 responses to No clear favorites, as Super 15 takes its toll

  1. Excellent Post Uysh! As mentioned they will not lesson the tournament, so I aid it before, I’ll say it again; Add an Argentine team or two, two islander teams, one japanese team and off course we’ve now got six teams, so throw the lions in, and possibly another kiwi team and you can easily have a Super 12 Top division, with a 10 or 11 team Super Rugby Promotion League. It’s perfect and adds an extra dimension in promotion relegation matches. It has the potential of extra games, while removing the problem of too many games per team…

    • I believe we all like the idea willem, just based on not moving too far out the southern hem box, but i believe it doesn’t solve the exodus crisis. Move where the money is. Just read the all-french final article; jeez those french teams are loaded, with the english not too far behind, with the viewership of their games to back it up. NZ and Oz are sucking us dry without bringing anything to the table!

  2. What has Timo Swiel done? I can find any news about him and the baby boks

    • He made himself unavailable for the Baby Boks. In terms of IRB rules, if he plays for the Baby Boks, he may not play for any other international team. He is eligible for future selection for England though, so he wants to keep his options open.

  3. Thanks for a great post Uysh, have been saying and hearing it for years, everybody except SANZAR is wide awake to the fact. Lessening the super comp will never happen, greedy admin and already sold off the idea of broadening the comp to the sponsors & broadcasters. SARU should be approaching the north in 2016 instead of killing the players in yet another grueling watered down schedule. England & France are already sour with their deal because they are in the same boat as us: bankrolling the competitions but not getting their fair slice. Come 2016, we should ditch NZ and Aus. Strength of the national team doesn’t necessarily show the quality of the local comps. Watching heineken and french top 14 is great, hard rugby.

    • Thanks! I agree, wish we could at least see something different. I just don’t think SARU has the balls to do it.

  4. bring back super 10 and give breathing space to my favourite cup, the currie cup. one of my favourite competitions and one of the oldest in the world the currie cup has suffered dramatically because of the expanded super rugby.

    bring back the currie cup up to standard!

    • Ja, they just need to drop the bottom 5 teams. Kings, Rebels, Force, Highlanders and Waratahs.

  5. Sad but true.. Instead SANZAR is looking to do the opposite to what you are suggesting, expanding by maybe including argentinian clubs and maybe even 1 more SA union (Lions & Kings).
    The super rugby competition was a brilliant idea. It was and probably still is the best rugby compeition in the world. But the bosses are getting greedy and they just want more and more and making the comp bigger and bigger. I think they have to revert back to the old format, not this local derbie conference bullshit we’re watching now..

    • A system where everyone plays against each other once will still beat the conference process. They can still have their top 6 to have playoffs, but it makes more sense to play everyone at least once, than to play local sides 8 times. It is supposed to be an international contest, now its a glorified currie cup!

  6. Good post Uysh!
    I have not watched a game of rugby yet this year. The facts you state above is the reason for me rather doing something else.
    I read all the blogs, get all the info from you guys and I am set for the week.
    Honestly, I cannot watch this watered down competition any longer. It baffles my mind that anybody still pays good money to go to the stadiums to do so.
    Make no mistake, I am still a Sharks/Springbok fan, but what is left of our Springboks after this years Super 15? NOTHING! And we have only the greedy bastards at SANZAR to thank for that.
    Sorry for the long post, but hell, these okes killed rugby for me

    • Agree Mickey! That is my biggest worry! With all these injuries we risk not seeing the best in SA playing for the Springboks. Opinions aside, but how a player like Bekker rather goes and plays in Japan as opposed to for the Springboks just shows you how skewed this system is. Is it not a big enough honor anymore to represent your country, if players opt to go play overseas rather than for the Boks? We can list many players who will make up a very good Bok squad who prefers to play overseas because of the battering of the Super Rugby.