Super Rugby vs URC: 8 Reasons Why South Africa Should Return to Australasia

Super Rugby vs URC: 8 Reasons Why South Africa Should Return to Australasia

Jarryd Westerdale
November 20, 2023 at 7:28 AM
  • Super Rugby was once the home of the premier rugby franchises from global powerhouses
  • The United Rugby Championship has adopted the South African teams to mixed receptions
  • South African Rugby's decision to align with teams in Europe is profitable but less exciting

No relationship is perfect but some still bring out the best in all parties. Following the pandemic, rugby in the Southern Hemisphere underwent a crushing realignment with several pros and cons.

South Africa's shift from Super Rugby to the Pro14, later rebranded the United Rugby Championship, may have given fans something novel but inside, there is still a yearning for the old rivalries.

Super Rugby, URC, Stormers, Crusaders, Brumbies.
Super Rugby declined and United Rugby Championship flourished following the South African franchises' switch from south to north. Photos: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile, Sanka Vidanagama/AFP and Mark Metcalfe.
Source: Getty Images

The underlying motive may be financial but if rugby chooses profit over competition, it may end up resembling the round-ball sport the rugby community so loves to mock.

The fan experience is what should ultimately count and Sports Brief looks at eight reasons South African franchises should return back to their southern hemisphere roots.

Take South Africa back to Super Rugby

1. Friday morning games make the week shorter

The weekend starts early when Friday morning is spent checking the rugby score while getting through the last of the week's workload.

Friday evening games are less anticipated, especially when kickoff is after 9pm. By that time, either the lure of the nightlife or the fatigue of the work week has taken precedence.

2. Super Rugby was more exciting

Since the realignment, the Super Rugby shine has diminished but the style of play is still more attractive. Watching the Bulls and Stormers wrestling the Irish and Scottish in the rain is not blockbuster television.

The New Zealand, Australian, and Pacific Islander teams' dedication to running the ball, regardless of the score, has always been a brand of franchise rugby fans want to watch. Low-scoring tactical games can be saved for the international scene.

3. No Rugby on a Sunday

The expanded Super Rugby's decline began when it was necessary to schedule games on Sunday to appease broadcasters. This has continued intermittently in the URC.

Sunday is a day of relaxation and watching rugby can be an energy-sapper that requires a day to recover. Additionally, waking up on Saturday and having rugby for breakfast tastes uniquely sweet.

4. The existing Super Rugby rivalries

It took years of intense battles to establish the mutual respect and admiration shared between the three nations who dominated world rugby. Australia have since suffered and the Kiwi franchises could follow suit.

South African vs. European match-ups seem contrived and unwanted, forced into an awkward bond to sell pay TV subscriptions. SARugbyMag reported on the success of the television figures, but at what cost?

5. Travel times are negligible

Administrators sold the move to the Northern Hemisphere as less time spent travelling. Time zones are inescapable but the flight time between Johannesburg and Sydney or Dublin is a few hours difference.

The time is negligible when spent in business or first-class. It had been done for over 20 years and South African franchises came away with more than a few memorable wins.

6. The Southern Hemisphere is still king

At the 2023 Rugby World Cup, three of the final four were from below the equator, something that has happened regularly since 2007.

Argentina's location is tough but their players have shown a willingness to sacrifice. The climate is conducive to attractive rugby that gets results on the biggest stage.

7. There will be no Six Nations expansion

Reaching an agreement with Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Italy for club rugby was one feat, but getting England and France to agree an international shift will be near impossible.

South African Rugby has expressed an interest in joining the Six Nations, something Supersport has reported as being completely off the table.

8. A compromise is possible

If broadcasters are hellbent on tapping the European market, splitting the franchises among the competitions could be an option. Fewer games between local teams could spice up the Currie Cup with such an added dynamic.

If co-ordinated well between South African cities, fans could access the best of both worlds for in-stadium entertainment. With the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia, regular access to those could be beneficial too.

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Relive the homecoming at OR Tambo International

Sports Brief recently reported on the delirium at OR Tambo as the Springboks arrived home from France.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup champions arrived home to be figuratively hoisted onto the nation's shoulders.

Fans stayed behind for hours in the rain that afternoon to soak up every drop of magic in the atmosphere.

Jarryd Westerdale photo
Jarryd Westerdale
Jarryd Westerdale (based in Johannesburg) joined Sports Brief after four years in the community journalism sphere. He is a two-time Alet Roux Award winner and was a finalist in multiple categories at the Forum of Community Journalism Excellence Awards.
South AfricaUnited Rugby ChampionshipRugby World CupSouth African Rugby Union (SARU)