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Super Rugby draft concept receives more support from key personnel

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Evenly distributing the best young talent from across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific is a surefire way to promote a competitive landscape across Super Rugby Pacific, and the draft concept that could facilitate that is gaining traction.

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This week Rugby Australia welcomed new Chief Executive Phil Waugh and the former Wallaby was quick to express his ambitions when it comes to the Australian rugby teams’ success against their Oceanian competition. Waugh vowed to discuss the Super Rugby draft idea with his New Zealand Rugby counterpart Mark Robinson.

The head honchos are one piece of the puzzle required to get the idea over the line, the Players’ Associations are another. New Zealand Rugby Player Association’s CEO Rob Nichol this week also threw his support behind the idea, while noting some conditions that would be required for an official sign-off.

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“We never say no to opportunities,” Nichol told Stuff. “Something I think that can be really attractive is a prospect of a draft which is around New Zealand talent, Australian talent and Pacific talent.

“New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific now through Moana Pasifika, we’re joined at the hip to retain professional rugby in this part of the world.

“I don’t think people really understand that. We’re competing in the global marketplace, which is becoming incredibly aggressive with private equity interests becoming very influential in the northern hemisphere.

“We’ve got to be innovative. We’ve got to say, ‘How can we all work together to not just retain but actually attract talent back to this part of the world?’

“We want to strengthen all of the teams, and we want to provide pathways for our professional players or aspiring professional players to be able to get out there and express their talent.”

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There would still be room for clubs to retain homegrown talent that they have invested in throughout their development pathways. The draft would aim to better align players with situations that offer on-field opportunities.

A prerequisite for the draft to get the green light would be an appropriate amendment to national team eligibility laws. If young athletes are to be evenly distributed across the Super Rugby clubs, they should not be restricted from representing their country of birth due to them belonging to an offshore club.

“I think it becomes really important,” Nichol continued. “It might not be super important for the young 19, 20, 21-year-old who’s looking to get a one or two-year break, but it becomes incredibly important when they get into a Super Rugby environment, they’re starting to find form, and then they start thinking about the next step.

“It’s always a conversation that we’re having…the logical [answer] is that as long as you play in a competition that New Zealand [Rugby] is an owner in, what about that?

“In other words, if you play in Super Rugby Pacific, could you be eligible for the All Blacks? That to me, if there was to be a change, that’s probably the logical change to go to.”

“It’s not about forcing people or exerting some form of ownership over them.”

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2 Comments
G
Gary 376 days ago

I doubt that this will come to fruition as the draft will favour Australian player more so than NZers and that will not suit NZ. IMO Super Rugby needs a complete overhaul and a draft is not the answer. Actually I think that Super Rugby is nearing its day in the sun and needs either to be scrapped or totally revised

J
JD Kiwi 377 days ago

There's nothing to stop 19, 20, 21 year old players trying to get a one or two year break going to Australia. They aren't likely to make the All Blacks so soon anyway if they can't get a kiwi Super Rugby contract.

What we don't want is our better players in a low performance environment like an Aussie Super Rugby team. There's a reason why Aussies improve after they leave the country.

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