‘High time’ for tough calls
ROUX: NO PLACE FOR POLITICS AND EMOTION IN SA’S SUPER RUGBY DECISION
Rugby boss wants closure within the next month.
According to Saru CEO Jurie Roux, South African rugby had to listen to the bark coming from broadcasters and all other stakeholders in the game and cut the number of Super Rugby franchises or face the bite of economic hardship and potential disaster further down the road.
Roux was speaking yesterday at the launch of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, the new tournament that will slot in at the level below Super Rugby, following Sanzaar’s announcement at the weekend that South Africa will only be able to field four teams from next year.
“Our stakeholders – sponsors, fans, broadcasters and media – have been speaking very clearly about the lack of integrity in the competition because not everyone plays everyone else, and the confusing format of Super Rugby. Broadcasters wanted change to come immediately otherwise they warned us we were going to run into contracting issues.
“And the economic reality is that we cannot sustain six franchises. We can survive with five but then we’d have to sacrifice other things, and neither can we sustain it from the player point of view either. So it’s high time tough decisions were made for the good of South African rugby, that’s what the staff are paid for and the office-bearers are elected for.
“Ultimately it’s a numbers decision, the numbers of spectators and viewers are in decline and there’s obviously an issue with what stadiums are providing as well. Plus half our franchises lose more matches than they win, so they’re not providing quality competition,” Roux said at the Bill Jardine Stadium.
The CEO said politics and emotion had governed the previous decision to expand to six franchises, but he hopes the newly formed franchise committee, and the Saru general council that will ul- timately consider their proposal, lays those factors aside when they consider which two franchises should be cut from Super Rugby.
“My plea to the franchise committee is to make a swift recommendation, not based on politics or emotion, so that nobody can accuse us of stalling. I will push as hard as I can to have this decision made as quickly as possible, at most within a month’s time,” Roux said.
He suggested another four professional franchises could play as a group in other overseas tournaments, while adding that the 14 provincial unions had to continue as semi-professional entities looking after the broad base of the South African rugby pyramid – the amateur and school teams.
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