The decision was announced by SANZAAR after it became unsustainable for the Japanese outfit to remain in the competition as the Japan Rugby Football Union could not continue to financially underwrite them after 2020. The team will remain in the competition in 2020, before it reverts back to a 14-team round robin competition.
Many fans have taken to Twitter to lambast SANZAAR’s handling of the competition. Super Rugby was expanded to 18 teams in 2016, before Australia’s Western Force, as well as South Africa’s Cheetahs and Southern Kings were axed. Another alteration to the competition has left many fans wondering what the future has in store for Super Rugby, with interest dwindling.
Could SANZAAR be a bigger joke? Should be unwound immediately
— Nick Garling (@CrookedRiverCap) March 20, 2019
A prolonged, distasteful process, undermining their proven gains.
Super Rugby is a tainted, declining product.
— Gregory Dodwell (@gregreedee) March 20, 2019
Couldn’t organise the proverbial in a proverbial
— Bernard Kelly (@BernardatBKP) March 20, 2019
The whole concept does seem to have had its day….
— Sunil Awasthi (@sa9321) March 20, 2019
I am so over the Muppets that run this comp
— Peter Wendt (@peter_wendt1) March 20, 2019
Really, really poor. Super Rugby: 23 years in and still no idea what kind of competition they should be running.
— Blair Kelly (@ClearBelly) March 22, 2019
Sunwolves axed from Super Rugby, ironically they are having their best season…. further underlines that fact that SANZAR are a bit of a joke.
— Jason Garrick (@kiwiyorkie88) March 22, 2019
Super Rugby = shambles
— Andy Pan (@Rewster7) March 22, 2019
However, this announcement has not been met with universal disdain. Once heralded as the best competition in world rugby, Super Rugby has been on a steady decline in recent years. The quality has become diluted as teams have been added to the competition, compared to the days of fewer teams but of a higher quality. In that regard, many fans are excited to see Super Rugby return to how it used to be, particularly with a simplified format.
Although the Sunwolves have gradually improved in the competition, shown by their first victory on New Zealand soil this year against the Chiefs, they are still a far-cry from the consistent standard that many fans would want to see. Therefore, in terms of the quality of Super Rugby, many fans can get on board with this decision.
Additionally, South African teams and fans support this idea, particularly due to the vast amount of travelling that is involved, which also entails trips to Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, and has subsequently seen viewing figures plummet. However, with a number of South African teams showing an interest in joining the northern hemisphere’s Pro14 competition, the future may still remain nebulous.
Great NEWS indeed back to having a great competition!!
— ??BlackPearl Thembs?? (@BlackFireFly892) March 22, 2019
Finally , the way it is supposed to be.
— Craig Thompson (@RAINKINGX1) March 22, 2019
Have to feel for Sunwolves but overall a much more appealing format
— Russell (@russinsing) March 22, 2019
— Johnny Mc (@BrumbyinTahland) March 22, 2019
Makes more sense but harsh on the Sunwolves
— Jackie Treehorn (@dbp_sydney) March 22, 2019
SA sides have the worst travel schedule than any other union in the competition that is compounded by the Sunwolves. few Saffas will even watch the game against the wolves. The money has to be made up somewhere.
— Jared Wright (@jaredwright17) March 22, 2019
Australia was behind this conference mess.
Need to go back to round robin ASAP.
— wadesgotit (@wadesgotit) March 20, 2019
As Super Rugby is only realizing now, bigger isn't always better. Quality will always prevail over quantity. Super Rugby must be the best teams from NZ, AUS & RSA. No complicated tables and bullshit. Just one log, home & away games with semi's and final.
— Gazareth (@Gazareth_D) March 22, 2019
The addition of the Sunwolves was initially done to promote the globalisation of rugby, however, many feel that it was never sustainable. But with Japan hosting the World Cup this year, losing their Super Rugby franchise the year after seems like one step forward and another backwards to many fans. In the short term, concerns are being raised as to how the moribund Sunwolves can drum up support over the next season and a half. They currently have a strong fanbase in Japan, and it is yet to be seen what will happen now this announcement has been made.
Questions are also being asked by fans as to where this leaves Japanese rugby after the World Cup. Of course, SANZAAR needs to think about promoting the floundering Super Rugby competition, but many fans feel like that is being done at the expense of one of rugby’s biggest developing nations.
Superb effort from all involved with #SuperRugby to cull Sunwolves next term. Great way to build on a first World Cup in Japan later this year, demonstrating a level of idiocy they should all be proud of. Rugby again shooting itself in the foot.
— Ned Keating (@nedkeating) March 22, 2019
So we're winding back the clock to 2010, the final year of Super 14. Next stop is 2005, the final year of Super 12 and then we'll flick South Africa – or they'll flick us – and it will all cease. And likely needs to. Japan. WRC venue? Sure thing. Grow the game there? Crickets.
— Tim Cox (@timcoxtweets) March 20, 2019
Decision to cut the Sunwolves from Super Rugby after the 2020 season is frustrating, even if expected. Japan and the Asian region will be a hotbed in the post-World Cup years, and their removal from one of the world's best club competitions can only be a blow.
— Andrew (@AMSinclair97) March 22, 2019
— Observer (@rugby_whisperer) March 22, 2019
Look, I don't follow rugby closely at all. But I love how they've scrapped the Sunwolves after all the tix for RWC games were sold. What a kick in the guts for Japanese Rugby.
— Ben Williams (@BenitoWill) March 22, 2019
Fans: “But Japan’s the third biggest economy in the world.”
Rugby officials: “Nah, cut.”
Fans: “But the World Cup there this year will only grow exposure of the game there.”
Rugby officials: “Look, don’t attack me with your flawless logic. Cut.”#sunwolves
— Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) March 22, 2019
The most passionate fans in Super Rugby just lost their team. With Japan about to host the Rugby World Cup and see even more growth in the sport, SANZAAR cuts the @sunwolves to leave the South African, Aussie and Kiwi conference untouched. #SANZAAR are destroying rugby.
— Haydn Kruger (@Haydnkruger) March 20, 2019
It must be painful for the fans…
— #2019SuperRugby? (@Nyambossee) March 22, 2019
Wallaby legend Tim Horan has also joined the discussion on Twitter, describing how there is “so much momentum in Japanese and Asian rugby”. However, former Wallaby Dean Mumm has described the state of affairs most succinctly on Twitter, describing the Sunwolves’ addition as “short sighted”, but highlighting how Japan have now been excluded.
This is what they said:
A real shame for the Sunwolves and Japanese rugby supporters. There is so much momentum in Japanese and Asian rugby. The atmosphere at Sunwolves matches is hard to beat at Super Rugby level. @FOXRUGBY https://t.co/TsotTQ49vp
— Tim Horan (@TimHoran12) March 20, 2019
Saddened to hear to @sunwolves are leaving @SuperRugby . A short sighted solution in my opinion. They have shown themselves to be a team of grit and growth when placed in the correct conference. A nation learning to love rugby has now been excluded after hosting a RWC.
— Dean Mumm (@DeanMumm) March 21, 2019
Rugby seems to be going through a lot of changes at the moment, both at a club level and an international level, but this is one that many saw coming as SANZAAR are desperately trying to tweak Super Rugby in an attempt to return to its halcyon days.
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