It may only be the start of the new Super Rugby season, but already the Australian teams are beginning to feel the heat. It’s been a largely poor start for all their franchises and it has been hard to avoid it in the media.
A simple look at the points standings in the Australiasian group is enough to notice something is not quite right in Australian rugby. A below-par Super Rugby season in 2016, a series whitewash at home to England in the summer and patchy form in the Rugby Championship has led to calls for a seismic revamp.
Former Wallabies coach Alan Jones says the problem lies with the ever-expanding Super Rugby competition, which currently accommodates 18 teams including the Jaguares from Argentina and the Sunwolves of Japan.
“The club side has been basically abandonned by Australian rugby. The provincial stuff is awful, the standard is terrible,” Jones said.
“They’ve presided over this stupid Super Rugby thing which apparently wants to incorporate every country in the world, it’s too big, it’s too unmanageable and people can’t identify with any of this.”
No better is Australian franchise’s strife in recent years exemplified than by their record against their Kiwi counterparts. 15 defeats in the last 22 games across all Super Rugby sides does not bode well.
Copping the most of the misery in 2017 has been the Rebels who have looked abject during heavy defeats to the Blues (18-56), Hurricanes (71-6) and the Highlanders (51-12).
This has left Jones demanding a fundamental re-building of Australian rugby from the bottom up.
“It’s like building your own home. If you don’t spend on the floor, there’s no point in building the roof. On the other hand, if you spend all the money on building the roof and there’s no decent floor, then the roof will collapse.”
If it hasn’t already collapsed, then the roof is becoming even more unsteady by the month as Australians’ patience is wearing thin.
Plans to shake up the tournament structure in 2018 will likely see the demise of at least one Australian franchise from Super Rugby, but it might take more than that to bring them back to consistent winning ways.