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'Fan-centric' innovations expected once Super Rugby Commission is established

By Ned Lester
Dane Coles of the Hurricanes leads the team out for the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Crusaders at Sky Stadium, on June 03, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images)

New Zealand’s love of rugby is complex and varying. Australia’s, even more so. The relationship between the respective unions is “unique” but New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson is certain the two will soon come to an arrangement on the establishment of a Super Rugby commission.


The commission will provide a clear and progressive future for the competition and look to re-engage any waning fanbases as other sports threaten to steal rugby’s spotlight.

Since Super Rugby’s future is confirmed until 2030, maximising the entertainment value and community connection will be priority number one and an objective deserving of its own, full-time staff.

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The commission’s official purpose is to “drive commercial revenue, oversee rules and regulations, shape the future strategic direction and generate fan-first initiatives”.

So what avenues will the commission explore? Ideas being floated such as a draft, a salary cap, a player transfer or a trade system all have their merits but, whether they serve the best interests of the competition and the sport overall will likely be investigated and ruled upon by the commission.

“I think there will be more and more work as the commission stands up to investigate those areas, with urgency,” Robinson told Paddy Gower Has Issues.

“We’re incredibly open-minded to all these possibilities. Nothing is off the table as it relates to the way we’re viewing the future of the competition.”



While club registrations are down, Blues CEO Andrew Hore told Paddy Gower Has Issues that digital engagement and broadcast numbers are trending upward.

“People are following,” he said. “They’re there. It’s getting them back to the ground.

“This sport needs to be treated like any other world-class international competition, and actually have people working on it all the time.

“Working out what the fan wants, making it far more fan-centric doesn’t take a lot, and then you start to get the tribalism building again and people travelling again which is fantastic.”

Some progressive innovations can be expected over the coming Super Rugby seasons, for now Robinson is without doubt “the game is still really strong in terms of its connection to people’s hearts and minds.”



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