In a surprising turn of events over the past week, South Africa has introduced the concept of another two rugby franchises.
The proposed addition of these two franchises is a move that has shocked many South African and rugby fans alike. This has come shortly after the SANZAAR ruling that decided that six South African teams were too expensive. Therefore a proposal to form another two has come out of the blue.
These new teams are likely to play in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, a competition that includes the 12 Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs and another four Welsh sides.
COVERING THE BASES
The proposal of these new additions seems to be a case of the South Africa Rugby Union covering all the bases. It’s another step in trying out new formats before the SANZAAR broadcasting deal expiry in 2020.
“At the right time in 2020 we can then make a decision on where our bases sit.” – SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux
Earlier this year the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs joined the Aviva Premiership in a similar move. Both moves make sense for the SARU. Testing the popularity and the interest in these competitions will help the decision-making process of where the SARU moves into the future. The success of the South African teams in the Premiership will help to achieve this. Hence placing teams in the Anglo-Welsh Cup also appears to be a logical step.
DILUTION OF SOUTH AFRICA RUGBY TALENT
The huge disadvantage of this move is the potential dilution of South Africa rugby talent. There are two main ways this can go. The first is that players move to these two new franchises at the expense of the Super Rugby teams. It could also sap the talent of the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings. This would dilute the already-weak South Africa Super Rugby teams (obviously excluding the impressive Lions). This will further damage the quality of Super Rugby, something that I don’t think anyone wants.
However, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing in the long term, providing that South Africa chooses to leave Super Rugby. If they don’t stay in the Southern Hemisphere competition, then allowing some of their key players to play more European Rugby is a good plan for their future.
CURRIE CUP PROMOTIONS
Another idea that has been reported is that they are creating these teams from the Currie Cup. The main two sides that were suggested are Griquas and the Pumas. This would be the best choice in order to keep the rest of the franchises strong, in my opinion. However, these two teams would struggle against the quality of their competition. It’s a huge step up for these domestic sides, and whilst it would help them improve eventually, there’s only so much downside that supporters can take.
It’s certainly an interesting idea from the South Africa Rugby Union. It will also be interesting to see the logistics and the roster formation of these teams. And even more interesting will be how this impacts on the decision made after the SANZAAR broadcasting deal.
Author: David Lind
David lives in Perth, Australia, but is a born and bred Kiwi. He spends his time between studies and running the drinks for his cricket club. His articles on the 1014 allow him to let out his rugby feelings online rather than at his mates.