O'Neill calls for flawed Super series to dump teams

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 07:51
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REACTION: Former Australian Rugby Chief John O'Neill has called for Argentina and Japan to be dumped from the troubled Super Rugby competition, along with a South African side.

As the SANZAAR organisers grapple with a way forward for the confusing 18-team, five-nation championship, former Australian Rugby Union Chairman O'Neill says they must return to a 15-team format.

O'Neill said he fears the far-flung competition, beset with problems over its unwieldy conference structure and exhausting travel schedules, is losing its tribalism.

He has accused the organisers of trying to please everyone, including World Rugby.

"It will take some very bold decision-making," O'Neill told the Daily Telegraph on Friday, imploring Australian administrators to stand strong against calls to axe one of their own five teams.

"Am I suggesting it's an easy solution? No, it's not. But you cannot continue with an 18-team competition, which isn't even a genuine competition."

O'Neill was referring to the competition's convoluted four-conference structure and fixture schedule that means the Lions and the Southern Kings of South Africa will not play against any team from New Zealand during this regular season

O'Neill said it was time for a serious rethink.

"What is the best competition structure that is ultimately and unambiguously in the best interests of Australian rugby?" he asked.

"Personally, I would not have agreed with South Africa going to six teams. That's a domestic issue that they should have been told to sort out."

And he was vehemently against the suggestion that Australia should lose a franchise.

"I can't possibly agree with that. It is not the fault of the five Australian franchises that this Super 18 competition is a disaster.

"You can ask questions how the hell this 18-team competition came into existence, but the hard cold question now is 'what's the solution?'."

He said the current format across five countries and 17 times zones with matches being played from Thursday to Sunday was flawed.

"Latitudinal competitions — east/west competitions — do not work," he said, suggesting Australia should even look at a better trans-Tasman option while including Pacific and Asian teams.

The new season kicked off on Thursday with the Blues thrashing the Melbourne Rebels 56-18 in Melbourne.

Agence France-Presse

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 31 March 2017
Highlanders v Rebels 06h35 Dunedin
Sat, 01 April 2017
Blues v Force 04h15 Auckland
Chiefs v Bulls 06h35 Hamilton
Reds v Hurricanes 08h45 Suncorp Stadium
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h05 DHL Newlands
Zebre v Connacht 14h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Lions v Sharks 15h05 Ellis Park Stadium
Leinster v Wasps 15h15 Dublin
Munster v Toulouse 17h45 Limerick
Sun, 02 April 2017
Waratahs v Crusaders 06h05 Allianz Park
Saracens v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Allianz Park
Clermont Auvergne v Toulon 15h15 Clermont-Ferrand
Mon, 03 April 2017
Maties v UJ 14h30 Stellenbosch
UP-Tuks v Shimlas 17h00 Pretoria
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 5 2 0 3 11
Waratahs 5 2 0 3 8
Reds 4 1 0 3 6
Force 4 1 0 3 5
Rebels 4 0 0 4 1
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 5 5 0 0 21
Chiefs 4 4 0 0 19
Hurricanes 4 3 0 1 15
Blues 5 2 0 3 11
Highlanders 5 2 0 3 9
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 4 4 0 0 17
Cheetahs 5 2 0 3 9
Bulls 4 1 0 3 5
Sunwolves 5 0 0 5 1
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 5 4 0 1 19
Jaguares 5 4 0 1 18
Sharks 5 4 0 1 17
Kings 5 1 0 4 5