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Wed Apr 23 12:29:20 SAST 2014

Oz gains, rugby loses

CRAIG RAY | 17 July, 2012 07:172 Comments
Quade Cooper of the Reds, a team that has secured a home play-off despite getting less points than any of the six Super 15 qualifiers
Image by: IAN HITCHCOCK / GALLO IMAGES

THIS year's final Super rugby standings exposed the flaws of the regional system, which rewarded the Reds with a home play-off berth even though the Australians had the fewest points of the six qualifiers.

As winners of the Australian region, the Reds secured third on the overall standings behind the South African winners, the Stormers, and New Zealand leaders, the Chiefs, even though they had fewer points than the fourth, fifth and sixth-placed teams.

Greg Peters, chief executive of the SA, New Zealand and Australian Rugby alliance, defends the situation because it is "unique".

But being unique is not an excuse for denying it is flawed, and arguably weakens rugby in the southern hemisphere, and in Australia in particular.

Although the current structure has rewarded Australia with a home play-off, does it benefit Australian rugby across the board?

A quick glance at the standings from each of the three regions reveals that Australia's region is the weakest by some distance.

And, as a consequence, they are developing a losing culture.

Three South African teams had more points than the Reds - the Stormers (66), the Bulls (59) and the Sharks (59). In the New Zealand region, the Chiefs (64) and Crusaders (61) had more and if the Hurricanes didn't have to play four matches against those top two Kiwi sides, they would probably have earned more than 57 league points.

The five teams in the New Zealand region scored a combined 264 log points. In South Africa that number was 247 while the Aussies contributed a combined 210 points.

The New Zealanders won 46 matches and lost 34 while South Africa had a total of 42 wins and 38 defeats.

Australia's region produced 32 wins and 48 defeats.

If these logs were compiled with only the eight matches played across regions then the Chiefs would have topped the table with the Stormers second, the Crusaders third, Hurricanes fourth and the Bulls and Sharks in fifth and sixth.

The Brumbies would have been the highest-placed Aussie side at seventh and the Reds would have ended ninth.

Coaches from New Zealand and South Africa have said regularly that the Australian region is the weakest and the numbers back up that assertion. In a chance meeting with a Rebels player this weekend, he revealed that the feeling among players was that Australia should only have four teams.

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Oz gains, rugby loses

For Commenters Consideration | Please stick to the subject matter
Wed Apr 23 12:29:21 SAST 2014 ::

COMMENTS [2]

You take away a team, you weaken Australian rugby badly. Expansion brings more depth. This is the only professional avenue for Australian rugby players.
It will mean Australia will have a weak conference for some years, then depth develops and it is strengthened long term. Which is patently obvious. It's just simple logic.
look at South Africa. it wasn't that long ago that it was the whipping boy of the comp. The Bulls used to be a joke team, constantly losing. Now South African rugby has developed more depth and are doing very well.
Regardless, one season a nations rugby depth does not determine. Australia is still a better national side than South Africa (on rankings and results - SA has lost six in a row to Australia now), so maybe not throwing stones in a glass house might be an idea.

Jul 17, 2012
You still have not justified a blatantly unfair system designed by Oz for Oz, where the Bulls now have to travel to Christchurch when they should be playing at home, and the Reds get to play at home instead.

I'd hate to think how your Oz media would be howling if this kind of situation was in favour of SA against Australia.