Super Rugby Aotearoa needs to take a leaf out of AU's book, according to Australian scribe
A Daily Telegraph journalist has taken aim at New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, calling it inferior to their own domestic tournament.
Following the suspension of the 2020 Super Rugby season, both New Zealand and Australia established their own five-team competitions.
Ratings both in New Zealand and across the ditch have shown a rise in New Zealand’s popularity, while the Australian games have struggled to attract the same attention.
But in a column for the Telegraph, Julian Linden said Australia have produced a better product.
“For all the chest-beating going on in New Zealand about how great their Super Rugby competition is, the Kiwis could still learn a thing or two from Australia’s version,” Linden says.
“While the general standard of play in New Zealand has been superior, Super Rugby AU matches have been closer and more unpredictable, with 80 per cent of games decided by less than 10 points compared to just 56 per cent in New Zealand”.
Linden criticises New Zealand’s table model that rids the competition of a finals system, contrasting to Australia’s version which will have second and third on the table play in a qualifying final, with the winner then facing the top seed in the decider.
“The ball has been in play two minutes longer on average in the Australian matches but the competition is just warming up with every team still in with a shot at the title because three of five sides will make the play-offs. The Kiwis completely dropped the ball by copying the English Premier League model.”
Although Australia’s competition has just wrapped up their fifth round – three weeks behind New Zealand – Linden makes the seemingly obsolete point of all five Australian teams still being in contention for the title. Following round five of Super Rugby Aotearoa, even the Chiefs who are still winless, had a chance at silverware.
In Super Rugby Australia, the Brumbies currently top the table with 18 points, while the Western Force are languishing at the bottom with just two. Mathematically the Force can still finish third and make the finals, but it will take a valiant effort with other results going their way.
Linden goes on to talk about the joys of the Force being back, who are yet to register a win through four games, calling it “a huge success by every other measure” and with “a bit of luck” they could have a couple of wins under their belt.
“They could easily have beaten the Reds and the Rebels but they’ve shown everyone they belong so won’t be sacrificed just because the Kiwis don’t want five Australian sides in a trans-Tasman competition,” he adds.
Last month, New Zealand Rugby revealed they are looking to establish a new Super Rugby competition from next year, which would ideally feature all five kiwi sides, one Pacific Island team and two to four Australian sides.
That would mean based on the current standings, the Brumbies and Reds would feature, with the Rebels’ and Waratahs’ fate remaining in the balance.
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