Super 18, 19, 20...

Super Rugby's plans for world domination are now official. In 2018, Super Rugby will encompass Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, and one other, probably Japan. SANZAR will be renamed SANZAJAR, or maybe SAANZJAR, or even ANZJSAAR. Whatever it becomes it will only be the beginning as the world's Rugby dominoes fall into line.

It's the 18th team that provides the clue. While Japan are the favourites, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the USA are also supposedly the 4 countries who expressed an interest and are putting together applications. No doubt the People's Republic of Balmain also considered an application, but that can wait for Super 20 or beyond.

Indeed there's no real reason why they can't all get a gig. If the argument for an 18th team is that they'll increase the number of eyeballs and hence broadcast revenue then the logic follows that all should be admitted.

And if travel distances are an argument against the participation of teams from some countries, then why is Argentina being included in the first place? Surely having teams from as many countries as possible within geographical spitting distance of each other would only decrease travel times and distances to matches.

The strength and playing numbers of local Rugby competitions argument and the number of spectators at local games factor also don't hold. The Pacific Islands are not exactly population heavy, local games are for the most part poorly attended, and yet they produce a wealth of Rugby talent, enough to support a significant proportion of New Zealand's Super Rugby teams.As long as there's enough broadcast revenue to go round, then everyone is happy to toe the broadcaster's line.

And finally, financial viability. Japan is thought to be the favourite to be named the 18th team because of the likelihood of them attracting sponsors and domestic attention, ensuring a buoyant bottom line and the ability to thus attract and retain talent. Yet you don't have to look any further than Australia to understand what a nonsense this is. The ARU is broke and the Waratahs, Rebels, Force and Brumbies all run at a loss (and expect the Reds to join them once their performances start impacting on local interest).
A potential Rugby stadium at the Vatican

And if there's one thing a sports broadcaster needs it's content. Super Rugby has the potential to put a team in every country on the planet, run a season that goes for 11 months a year and provides almost 100 matches a week if you count the 192 countries the UN recognises, and that doesn't include any of the Vatican, Kosovo, Palestine, Greenland or Western Sahara all who no doubt could probably cobble together enough fat blokes and fast blokes to populate a Rugby team (or buy some Pacific Islanders).

Super 192 (or more). Coming soon.


Anonymous said…
Ridiculous talks about this Super 18 - definitely pushing the practical boundaries. Where are you gonna find this passion elsewhere?!?!