Super Rugby is set to look significantly different from 2021, with the pandemic compelling both NZ Rugby and Rugby Australia to reassess their futures.
Last week former All Blacks coach Sir Steve Hansen called for New Zealand Rugby to stand strong and not crumble under Australia’s pressure when it comes to deciding the format for Super Rugby from next year onwards.
In an interview with Stuff, Hansen said New Zealand owed Australia nothing in a week where tensions escalated between the two nations following the revelations of findings from the Aratipu review into the future of Super Rugby.
Current coach Ian Foster backed up his predecessor’s sentiments.
“This is not a charity,” he told Newshub. “We’ve got to make sure they’re feasible, they’re financially viable and that the public are really going to get behind them.
“Whatever number of teams that can play this game at a financial level.”
Writing for the Daily Mail, rugby writer Chris Foy said the comments showcased New Zealand Rugby’s ‘smug superiority complex’.
“At a time when the game needs unity and co-operation, New Zealand Rugby have adopted a very different approach – brandishing a smug superiority complex in the face of struggling neighbours,” Foy wrote in a column.
“Whatever happens in the weeks and months ahead, in the re-structuring of southern hemisphere competitions, Australia probably won’t forget the attitude of their Kiwi counterparts,” he continued.
“They have thrown a few crumbs from their table towards their trans-Tasman rivals, accompanied by sneering disdain from the last All Blacks head coach and the new one – who hasn’t even taken charge for one Test yet. And the English are the arrogant ones, apparently.”
Former Australian rugby boss John O’Neill believes New Zealand and Australia need each other, and any competition needs to have a significant Australian presence.
But the numbers struggle to back up his stance. Since 2015, Australian Super Rugby sides have won a total of three of 49 games played on New Zealand soil.
Viewership continues to thrive in New Zealand as well, and has spiked since the start of the makeshift Super Rugby Aotearoa. For Australia, it regularly falls behind fellow winter competitions like the NRL and AFL, which has likely been a factor in RA struggling to nail down a broadcast deal beyond 2020.
The current broadcast deal expires at the end of the year.
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