Time to shake things up a bit

With a more aligned rugby calendar on the cards, Tank Lanning, writing in his Sport24 column, reckons we could really shake things up by playing the Currie Cup early and making it a Super Rugby qualifying tournament.

Tank Lanning

I am not exactly sure how they are going to get it right, but I like the noises coming from new World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and vice-chairman Agustin Pichot with regard to a new, more aligned, rugby calendar.

Said to take effect after the 2019 World Cup in Japan, it seems the new schedule will not affect the Six Nations, which was the initial target, instead offering fewer Tests, with June tours set to be scrapped for at least one of the four years between World Cups.

Would that see rugby head in the same direction as soccer, with Test matches becoming secondary to the money generating club fixtures? That really would be a shame.

But I do not see that necessarily being the case.

As it stands, the real naughty boys in this space, France, have made the call to dock their elite clubs log points if they fail to field at least 60% French-reared players per game. Also, following their disastrous showing in last year’s World Cup, clubs will have to limit the number of non-French qualified players in their 35-man squads to just 16.

So France are now putting their national side first.

And in playing so many Tests currently, could that in itself be devaluing the product? Playing fewer, with more variety, perhaps even throwing in the odd full blooded old fashioned tour, may well increase their value. What you can’t have, you want more of …

The thing that I like most about the proposed calendar, though, is the idea of Super Rugby starting a little later in the season. The aim being to have less of an overlap between internationals and domestic tournaments. Thankfully – that break in Super Rugby for the June Internationals is unpleasant.

What about going even further, though, and starting Super Rugby even later so we can play the Currie Cup before it?

Or even further – How about a return to the Super 12 or 14, with that year’s Currie Cup semi-finalists then also qualifying for Super Rugby?

As it stands, the Currie Cup is becoming more irrelevant by the second, in desperate need of a shot in the arm. But given that teams are not full strength due to the Bok call ups, it would be unfair to make it a Super Rugby qualifier in it’s current guise. Play it up front in the season and that all changes …

How about something like this:

Late February – April: Currie Cup (9 teams, single round)

May/June: Internationals (not always incoming, and not always a NH team)

June – September: Super 12 or 14 (involving the 4 Currie Cup semi-finalists)

October: Rugby Champs (4 teams, single round)

November: End of Year tour

Now that would add a little curry to the Currie Cup! And I reckon it would be quite fun to see our representation in Super Rugby change from year to year.

Also, by removing all North vs South restrictions on the May/June internationals, it allows for the All Blacks to come here, or the Boks there, for a full blooded 3 test tour in between. Now that is proper rugby!

In the year after World Cups, when the May/June internationals are not played, Super Rugby could be expanded to include either an extra team from SA, Australia and New Zealand, or more excitingly, two or three guest teams from the likes of America and/or Europe.

Club rugby qualification rounds could be played from March to June, with the Varsity and Gold Cups then played at the same time as Super Rugby. And with no Vodacom or Currie Cup rugby taking place, players not playing Super Rugby would then be available to play in our premier club rugby tournaments.

Looks like fun. Probably wouldn’t generate enough money, though. But I think the sport needs eyeballs again, before it can chase cash.


  1. Hi Tank, as you are aware their is currently a consulting firm deciding on the future of the Super Rugby format. What do you think of this suggestion?

    I would suggest splitting the competition into three Tiers (Premiership, Championship and Development) with 8 teams in each division. This would require six new teams to join the Development Division (North America, Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe, South America, NEwhere)

    Essentially each team would play the others in the same division (home and away) and the end of the season, the top 4 of the Premiership would contest the Semi’s and then Grand Final. The same weekend as the Semi Finals The bottom three would play promotion/relegation matches between the top three of the Championship.

    In fact I would say that 8th place in the Premiership is relegated and replaced by 1st place in the Championship. 7th place in the Premiership should play a promotion/relegation match at the home of the 2nd place in the Championship. 6th place in the Premiership should play a promotion/relegation match at their Home against 3rd place in the Championship. The bottom three of the Championship, would do the same with the top three of the Development division. The bottom of the Development division can play any new teams that wanted to join the tournament after going through a tender process (?)

    This way the need to tap into new markets is built into the format, while still maintaining the Quality vs Quality aspect that fans are crying out for. Giving teams that are lower on the log something to play for would also add to the excitement/viewership numbers.

    1. Ja, there is a lot I like about that Andre. Various ways to skin a cat, with the current version an example of how not to do it …

      1. I think a far simpler way would be to just split Super Rugby into two pools, with a relatively equal mix of teams from each country in each (since we already don’t play everyone anyway). It is also then easier to add more teams. Can also even include cross pool games if you want too. Top four of each pool go into the knockouts. SANZAAR doesn’t like simple though!

    2. Hi Andre. I did a follow up post using yours and another suggested format as examples that Accenture should consider. Thanks again for the comment

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