Wallabies playmaker Matt Toomua believes an overhaul of the Super Rugby format is needed once rugby returns to action after the coronavirus lockdown.
Speaking to rugby.com.au, the Melbourne Rebels star said that the competition – which features teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan – needs to be localised to feature teams in similar time zones.
“Maybe the model that we’ve got is a little bit aged and outdated and maybe we need to have a rethink,” the 30-year-old said.
“I guess this is almost forcing us to do it, whether it be in the short term until those borders open or whether it be long-term into something else that’s a bit more sustainable, bit more domestically focused.
“I think there’s a lot of people who are wanting to have a domestic model for quite a while now, whether it be Australia-focused or Australia-New Zealand focused or something along those lines.”
The 2020 Super Rugby season was suspended midway through March after seven rounds of action due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and is set for a reduction to 14 teams next year following the axing of the Tokyo-based Sunwolves.
An anticipated increase in international airfares is expected once the crisis has passed, however, which could take its toll on the financially-embattled SANZAAR unions, who are already bracing for multi-million dollar revenue deficits this year.
That could play into the hands of a Australian or trans-Tasman Super Rugby concept beyond this season, which could lead to a surge in fan interest that Toomua believes has waned over time.
“If I’m a Rebels member, what do I get? I get seven home games, maybe five against teams that I know, two or three against teams that I don’t know or don’t care about, and then three games that are in time zones that aren’t suitable,” he said.
“It’s just not, for me personally if I’m a supporter, I don’t think that’s an attractive product, I really don’t.”
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