Friday, 10 February 2012

Kiwi Super Franchises

 Let’s be honest: the New Zealand Super teams are made up entities. They were constructed out of thin air, mashed together from provincial catchment areas in 1996, to allow true professional rugby to run free across the land. In doing SANZAR created a top tier of domestic rugby where the best Australian, New Zealand and South African players could remain in their countries, earn proper money and retain the opportunity to represent their respective nations in Test rugby.

Yet, years later, 16 years later, do our Super teams in NZ really reflect or draw from the areas they supposedly represent? A few months back, a twitter post by Sam (@Scorz_) about his perception that maybe the 2012 Chiefs could be doing more for the provincial unions in their zone got me thinking too.

We all know the Crusaders pull heavily from Canterbury, and Auckland have so many players they should really win the bloody thing every season ... but what about the others: the poached Chiefs, the struggling Highlanders, the non-performing Hurricanes. Where do these kids come from each year?

So, that's what I have got here. A graphic that shows what percentage of the squads’ players come from within ‘the Zone’ versus that which does not. Then the squad is listed in order of its composition, based on NZ provincial unions (and a few dodgy imports ... I’m looking at you, Haskell!)

Why the hell are there no Manawatu players at the Hurricanes? Have they just followed Dave Rennie to the Chiefs? Hell, all four Whitelocks are from Feilding FFS, yet they left for Canterbury the day school broke up. Even the best Hawke’s Bay players – Guildford and Dagg – left the Hurricanes zone muy rapido.

What's going on? Is it politics? Is it economics. Is it All Black jerseys? Is this just a Kiwi problem? We’d would love to hear from any South African fans on how players move about the Republic between Currie Cup and Super.

All feedback welcome. Once again, Ferdy and I are putting this out for discussion rather than stating any conclusions.


Team Dave said...

This isn't gonna be popular I know but I'm not a super rugby fan at all. I think we should move to a competition similar to the Heineken Cup in Europe that rewards success in the league. That way teams can plan for the future, try and retain players, etc.
How are you supposed to know who to support in Super rugby? The Chiefs should be my team, I suppose, being from Tauranga but there is seldom any representation of Bay players in there.

slugso said...

Dave - I don't think you'll get complaints here. I'd love to see Super pulled back to be more representative of geography. Imagine 2012's best NZ provinces to compete against SA's and Oz's best provinces in 2013? Like Heineken Cup as you say.

Never happen though - it would mean SANZAR/ARU/SARU/NZRU admitting they got it wrong ... right to start with, but wrong now given how popular the NPC and latterly ITM are.

Its simple - local people want to see local players represent them.

I'm from Manawatu. Which bloody team am I supposed to follow now. Even my fave Canes players have left Wellington!

God forbid they sell 49% stakes in these things and take a salary cap off.

jcpry said...

Dave and Slugso. Sorry guys you have this wrong. If you actually think there is enough financial support to run anything other than the three tiers we currently have you are living in utopia. Granted there has been a very poor representation from both the BOP and Manawatu but a lot of that can be traced to poor union management coupled with some political nonsense with Wellington v the rest of the franchise.
The concept of the top team playing in the henieken type league would see even greater player movement and an inevitable concentration of players from the itm cup in the unions with money.
The current structure is starting to work with counties for example able to retain the likes of Piutau, Pulu, Stowers, and Lee whereas we lost the likes of Sivivatu, Donald and Masanga under the old system.