live Infotainment Factory: Mitchell: Dump South Africa from Super Rugby

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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Mitchell: Dump South Africa from Super Rugby


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Former Wallaby Drew Mitchell has called on Super Rugby bosses to make some radical changes to the competition - but says getting rid of Japanese franchise the Sunwolves is the wrong change to make.

The Sunwolves have reportedly been informed 2020 will be the Tokyo-based side's last year in Super Rugby after they were unable to provide a financial guarantee, bringing the competition back to 14 teams from 2021.

A 14-team competition would likely result in a return to a round-robin format, also marking the end of the unpopular conference system.

However, Mitchell would prefer to see the Sunwolves retained and called on Rugby Australia to start moving towards a future that cut ties at a provincial level with South Africa.

Sunwolves

“I think that’s what needs to happen, unfortunately at the moment a lot of the broadcast money comes from South Africa because of the UK and European nations," Mitchell told Macquarie Sports Radio on Friday.

“From a product point of view, we need something that’s going to challenge the likes of the NRL, the AFL and at the moment the current format of the Super Rugby doesn’t do that.

“I don’t know too many people that would get up through the night and watch their teams live when they go to play in South Africa or in Argentina when it’s played at one or three in the morning. That means our supporters aren't getting to know who those players are and when they come here there aren't many people coming out to watch."

Mitchell believes the competition would be better served with a localised product that tapped into markets that are more timezone friendly, with the pacific nations fitting the bill.

That would potentially mean a competition involving teams from Japan and the Pacific Islands, giving Australian and New Zealand broadcasters the opportunity to showcase more Super Rugby matches in prime time for sports viewing.

"The likes of (South African franchises) the Lions and the Bulls (are a problem) because people just don't know the opponent," Mitchell said.

"I think a localised product is certainly what we need to work towards. Whether or not NZ and Australian Rugby are willing to cut ties with the South Africans and go it alone and then bring in the likes of the Pacific island nations and the likes of Japan in a timezone friendly product."

The Wallabies great said Australian rugby needs to look after itself first in trying to secure the struggling sport's future in this country.

“We’ve got to be a little bit selfish," Mitchell said.

“Whilst it’s admirable to try and help develop other nations, we’re not in a position at the moment to put everyone’s interests before our own.

“We’re in a position where we need to get rugby back to being one of the strong games in our country, it’s time we started being a little bit selfish on that front.”

Former Wallaby Drew Mitchell has called on Super Rugby bosses to make some radical changes to the competition - but says getting rid of Japanese franchise the Sunwolves is the wrong change to make.

The Sunwolves have reportedly been informed 2020 will be the Tokyo-based side's last year in Super Rugby after they were unable to provide a financial guarantee, bringing the competition back to 14 teams from 2021.

A 14-team competition would likely result in a return to a round-robin format, also marking the end of the unpopular conference system.

However, Mitchell would prefer to see the Sunwolves retained and called on Rugby Australia to start moving towards a future that cut ties at a provincial level with South Africa.

Sunwolves

“I think that’s what needs to happen, unfortunately at the moment a lot of the broadcast money comes from South Africa because of the UK and European nations," Mitchell told Macquarie Sports Radio on Friday.

“From a product point of view, we need something that’s going to challenge the likes of the NRL, the AFL and at the moment the current format of the Super Rugby doesn’t do that.

“I don’t know too many people that would get up through the night and watch their teams live when they go to play in South Africa or in Argentina when it’s played at one or three in the morning. That means our supporters aren't getting to know who those players are and when they come here there aren't many people coming out to watch."

Mitchell believes the competition would be better served with a localised product that tapped into markets that are more timezone friendly, with the pacific nations fitting the bill.

That would potentially mean a competition involving teams from Japan and the Pacific Islands, giving Australian and New Zealand broadcasters the opportunity to showcase more Super Rugby matches in prime time for sports viewing.

"The likes of (South African franchises) the Lions and the Bulls (are a problem) because people just don't know the opponent," Mitchell said.

"I think a localised product is certainly what we need to work towards. Whether or not NZ and Australian Rugby are willing to cut ties with the South Africans and go it alone and then bring in the likes of the Pacific island nations and the likes of Japan in a timezone friendly product."

The Wallabies great said Australian rugby needs to look after itself first in trying to secure the struggling sport's future in this country.

“We’ve got to be a little bit selfish," Mitchell said.

“Whilst it’s admirable to try and help develop other nations, we’re not in a position at the moment to put everyone’s interests before our own.

“We’re in a position where we need to get rugby back to being one of the strong games in our country, it’s time we started being a little bit selfish on that front.”

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