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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Fri, 23 June 2017
South Africa A v French Barbarians 18h00 Orlando Stadium
Sat, 24 June 2017
Fiji v Scotland 02h30 Suva
Japan v Ireland 04h40 Tokyo
Australia v Italy 05h00 Suncorp Stadium
New Zealand v B&I Lions 07h35 Eden Park
South Africa v France 15h00 Johannesburg
Canada v United States 19h00 Calgary
Argentina v Georgia 19h15 Estadio Ciudad De La Plata
Tue, 27 June 2017
Hurricanes v B&I Lions 07h35 Westpac Stadium
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 13 6 0 7 33
Waratahs 13 4 0 9 19
Force 13 4 0 9 17
Reds 13 3 0 10 17
Rebels 13 1 1 11 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 14 14 0 0 63
Hurricanes 14 11 0 3 54
Chiefs 14 11 1 2 53
Highlanders 14 10 0 4 46
Blues 14 7 1 6 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 0 5 30
Cheetahs 13 3 0 10 16
Bulls 12 3 0 9 15
Sunwolves 12 1 0 11 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 12 0 1 56
Sharks 13 9 1 3 42
Jaguares 12 5 0 7 24
Kings 12 4 0 8 19