SA set to leave Super 14 ?

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that David Moffett, one of the orginal architects of the Super 12 and Tri Nations tournaments, believes the Super 14 and the Tri nations have had their day and that Australia and New Zealand should discard South Africa.

Moffett is a seasoned rugby administrator and was involved in unions such as NSW, New Zealand and Wales, who was also in charge of the NRL and he believes Australian sides should play in an expanded New Zealand National Provincial Championship instead of the Super 14 and domestic competitions. And the obvious alternative to the Tri Nations is an annual three-match Bledisloe Cup series.

In 1995, Moffett was involved in the planning of the Super 12 and Tri Nations series, and became the first chief executive of SANZAR, which has since run both competitions. Moffett, who after his term with Wales is returning to New Zealand, told the Herald that while both competitions were good for their times they were in need of a revamp. Traditional rivalries had to be emphasised.

“Forget about South Africa. Concentrate on your own backyard,” Moffett said yesterday. “Professional rugby has interfered with the natural tribalism of the game. It is forcing changes to domestic and grassroots rugby which I don’t think are going to work. That’s why I have a real concern with what is happening with the new national competition in Australia. There are better options.

“Super 12 and Tri Nations was right for the time. It brought in a truckload of money, but times have changed. These competitions have a lifespan.

The current agreement will run out in 2010 and there are already talks of South Africa playing in the Northern Hemisphere where they would be playing in the same time zone as they are used to.

There was talk about a tournament called the Rainbow cup a few years ago but this concept lost momentum when the NH teams showed little interest.

“Australian officials know that their South African counterparts are gradually losing interest in the Super 14, and for some time have been keen to align with European competitions – especially as it is in virtually the same time zone and involves less travel,” the Herald said.

The newspaper said South African officials have complained their Super 14 teams are severely disadvantaged as they must spend extensive time on the road, while their players struggle to stay motivated during the lengthy tournament.

“South African officials have told me they’re not keen on the Super 14, because the provinces see better value going up north. But they remain keen on the Tri-Nations,” one Australian Rugby Union official told the Herald.

“I’ve been very impressed with the crowds South Africa are getting for the Currie Cup,” Moffett said. “That all comes back to traditional rivalries which sees them getting much bigger crowds than what they have been getting in the Super 14. That’s been an eye-opener.

“For me a bit better would be for Australia and New Zealand to develop an expanded NPC [National Provincial Championship] which would suit the players. You would not have all that humungous travel which is part of the Super 14”, said Moffett.

There is also and argument that the Tri-Nations is also in need of a make over and the inclusion of Argentina has been raised as a possible solution.

The ARU recently heard a suggestion that if the Tri Nations turned into a four-nations southern hemisphere tournament, Argentina would base themselves in South Africa. This is far more appealing to SANZAR than having to travel to Argentina for matches.

So while South Africa may find the

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