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Friday’s Rugby News

Friday’s Rugby News

Friday Rugby News has Mumm asking for answers, SA Rugby’s franchise plan, and some big stories out of England.


Mumm calls for an end to ‘anxiety’


RUPA President Dean Mumm has echoed many calls throughout the week about the stress that the current Super Rugby saga is having on the players. In a press conference yesterday outside Allianz Stadium, Mumm said that the RUPA board met on Wednesday and unanimously voted for the EGM. Echoing the words of RUPA boss Ross Xenos, Mumm hoped that the EGM would provide some much needed transparency for the players.

“In terms of performance, it’s a huge element to have an understanding of what’s going on and how you go forward,” Mumm said.

“There’s certainly no excuse as to what’s been going on as the collective, in terms of performance across all teams, but those guys in that situation, anxiety doesn’t help you perform.”

“We, as the players, are the people standing to lose the most out of this.”

Mumm said that the lingering timeframe had forced RUPA to act. Even if all stakeholders are satisfied with the information at next week’s meeting, Mumm said there would be no shift in their stance on the need for five teams.

“As it stands there’s a team either the Rebels or the Force, people are going to lose their livelihoods. It’s important that these guys get some clarity. These people want to understand where they’re going to be what they’re going to be doing. If it’s not going to be here, when it comes to time in Europe, those contracts are largely done. I really feel for the guys in the situation.”

The EGM call currently has a three week notice, which, if it comes near the end of that period, could mean that the EGM could overshadow the June test series, which starts on June 10. Despite that, Mumm made it clear that he did not want such a decision to create a cloud over a players in the Wallaby camp.

For the full press conference, view here on

Fortune favours the bold


While a lot of people have tearing their hair out as to which team will be cut in Australia, over in South Africa, they have come up with a radical idea. SA Rugby have ruled out the possibility of merging teams, and look instead to be pursuing the option of having the two dropped teams play in other international tournaments, such as the PRO 12. These plans are bolstered by the fact that SA Rugby is in “advanced negotiations” with the European competitions.

Speaking with Sport24, SA Rugby President Mark Alexander made it clear why the merging suggestion was off the table, but so was dissolving the cut teams entirely.

“In the past there were teams that merged. It never worked. It didn’t work for the Cats. They performed poorly. It’s not an option we’re currently investigating.”

“The whole plan is to ensure that the two teams (axed from Super Rugby) will take part in other competitions from 2018. We do not want to condemn them to the wilderness.”

Currently, every single South African franchise has to present a case to SA Rugby, arguing why they must remain in the competition. It seems a far cry from Australia, with the ARU conduct leaving many scratching their heads as to what is going on.

If it is the case that the two cut South African teams may end up with a lifeline to other competitions, then Aussie rugby will be the only member downsizing, with only one club being dissolved. Bet that’s not gonna sit well with a lot of people here.

Alexander, however, has made his position clear: “The plan is that there will only be four South African teams in Super Rugby next year.”

Ritchie Retires

RBS 6 Nations Championship Round 5, Stade de France, Paris, France 19/3/2016France vs EnglandThe England team celebrate winning the Grand SlamMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Andrew Fosker

In a surprise announcement out of the RFU, chief executive Ian Ritchie has announced he will retire at the end of the summer. Ritchie has been at the organisation since 2012, and during that time, England won a Six Nations grand slam (see above), consecutive titles, and a clean sweep series win of the Wallabies. They also got knocked out of their own World Cup. The Womens team also did well in this time, winning the World Cup in 2014.

Speaking with BBC Sport, Ritchie admitted that while it was hard to leave, he felt it was time. He has widely been regarded as having restored authority and order at the RFU after a damaging and turbulent period after the 2011 World Cup Campaign. Even after 2015, when he face calls to resign, his decision to appoint Eddie Jones vindicated him.

“Rugby is a special sport, and one which is very hard to leave,” he said.

“I’m proud to have been part of the rugby family, working with so many talented, passionate and committed teams at every level of the game and of the union.”

The Head of Premiership Rugby, Mark McCafferty, also heaped praise on the outgoing chief executive.

“He’s always someone we felt we could do business with. He’s contributed massively to finding a good balance between club and country. We haven’t always seen eye to eye, but there has always been a good amount of give and take, which is the way the English system has to work.”

The RFU released a statement saying they plan to have replacement by the end of summer. With the RFU being the richest union in the world, expect plenty of applications being flung their way.

London Sevens ready to go!

Sydney Sevens 2017 Hutchison airborne v NZ

Finally, the London Sevens will kick off tomorrow, on Saturday May 20 at Twickenham in London. In case you didn’t know, here’s the YouTube video for it. The final leg in the Mens Worlds Series Sevens for 2017, South Africa are already guaranteed winners (with five tournament victories and 179 points) of the overall tournament, but will be looking to finish off the season on a high.

However, according to The Sun,  the toss-up for second place looks to be a more interesting race, with hosts England (145) currently in second, and Olympic Champions Fiji (142) in third. If Fiji finish two places higher than the hosts, they could still steal the runners up position. New Zealand (127) and the United States (114) round out the Top Five.

As for Australia, they currently sit in 6th on 101 points, but if they perform well could grab 5th place, particularly if the US underperform in Pool A against South Africa, Wales and Kenya. Australia will be in Pool D, and will have plenty of work to do against England, Samoa and Spain.

Defending London Sevens champions Scotland have drawn Pool B with France, Argentina and Russia. Their victory last year was the Scots first ever Cup final victory in international rugby, so they will be up to ensure 2017 continues that fairytale.

  • Nutta

    Thanks Nic.

    I was trying to think of something witty and pithy to say comparing what appears to be the sensible, logical thinking by the SARU to find alternatives to the situation in comparison to us falling over ourselves trying to appease our SANZAAR Masters “Yes Massster, I will cut a team Massster. As you say Massster.” only to then realise it aint so simples. But words fail me.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      As I was reading what the Saffers are thinking and likely to do, I thought ‘but of course’. Their location obviously offers a European option, where the money is too. Surely though, with some thought, we can come up with our own version of a damn good idea to keep the fire burning under which ever team is to be cut.

      Money is always an issue, but I wonder if a Pacific area tournament wouldn’t be attractive to sponsors and the public. It’s not hard for me to imagine teams from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and NZ becoming even more popular with the public than the Super Comp with some of it’s weird viewing times. Fantasy maybe?

      • Nutta

        3Bs I actually agree with you. We need a Japanese team or 2 plus a Singaporean team for the cash, but toss in NZ, Oz, one each from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji and we have a good size comp of much greater relevance to the local market.

        • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW


  • James Pettifer

    Quote in April from Jurie Roux SA Rugby CEO
    “From a South African rugby high performance perspective we’ve had to acknowledge that the dilution of talent and resources across six franchises – at a time when rand weakness has led to more departures to Europe and Japan – has seriously affected our ability to compete across the board”

    So how does keeping 6 teams across 2 competitions improve the the talent or resources?

    • Andrew Luscombe

      Rhetorical question? Answer anyway:

      Because the Pro12 runs a proper length season in a similar time zone to SA. It can generate more money for rugby in SA to help retain players and put into rugby development.

      In the short term there’s an extra bonus, SA gets to keep the current broadcast money from SANZAAR for the rest of the broadcast deal and then they will get additional Pro12 money. It will be the biggest boost to SA rugby since the initial Super12 deal. It will be an enormous boost to the Pro12 also.

      Anyone saying that either SA or Aus can only support 4 teams is just not aware of basic sports league management. The only reason they couldn’t support their teams is by continuing to run SR in the same poor manner it has been run over the past 7 or so years. There are so many basic things that other sports do to support their teams that are either unexplored or dismissed with little thought in SR that it is not funny.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Well said Andrew. You have my vote for a position within the ARU

      • James Pettifer

        I am sure that the SAANZAR partners when they decided that they wouldn’t adjust the revenue split didn’t expect SA to split 2 teams into a different competition entirely. Surely the partial move into the Pro12 is going to have a material impact on the ratings of Super Rugby in SA (even compared over dropping teams). I’d be very interested on how the broadcast agreement is worded and whether it actually allows SA rugby to do this.

        In terms of talent, would the assumption be that significant volumes of SA players will move back to SA rugby with the additional funding? Otherwise, they are still going to be in the same position from a performance perspective.

        And obviously, if this move is successful, you would expect South Africa to move all teams out of Super Rugby in the next agreement

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Good points.

          The Pro12 idea has been under discussion in SA for about 4 or so weeks. This is not an off the cuff remark. An announcement of it as official policy means it must have undergone these types of sanity checks.

          Performance of teams is all relative. SA teams only have a performance issue compared to NZ SR teams. Probably everyone in the world does, or would if they had to play them.

      • Rebels3

        I agree with most of what you have put. This has however got me thinking, if the Cheetahs and Kings join the pro12, which we all know is a full length season, what will that mean for the Cheetahs and Kings in the Currie cup? There is absolutely no way the teams can participate in both. We have heard for years that they will not compromise the Currie Cup for Super Rugby, but if you ask me this will definitely compromise it. Interesting times ahead

        • Bakkies

          ‘This has however got me thinking, if the Cheetahs and Kings join the pro12, which we all know is a full length season, what will that mean for the Cheetahs and Kings in the Currie cup?’

          The Supersport Rugby Challenge and the Currie Cup will be the feeders in to the Pro 12 sides like the Pro 12 sides have with their A competitions, Anglo-Welsh and the B&I Cup.

          What we haven’t seen yet is how the logistics are going to be managed. Particularly financing the travel costs. Unlike the English and French clubs the Pro 12 sides aren’t flush with cash. They are either supported by their unions while run independently or private (e.g Treviso). The SRU and WRU have been running at losses since they redeveloped their stadiums. The IRFU are very sensible financially and run at small profits (heavily dependent on the 6 Nations). They have already mentioned to the provinces that they can’t plough more money than they already are.

      • paul

        Your point about what other sporting codes do to support competitions is spot on.
        Not a single expansion franchise has been a success in Super rugby, Cox the owner of the Rebels has openly stated that the whole structure of the comp, makes it near on impossible for the Rebels to gain a foothold in the market place.

        This is why i find this whole situation so frustrating because once again they are not addressing the problem. 1 or 20 teams is not the issue in Australia, it is why the competition itself Super rugby cannot achieve greater market share here.

        Nothing is ever going to change until that is addressed.

      • Bakkies

        ‘Because the Pro12 runs a proper length season in a similar time zone to SA. It can generate more money for rugby in SA to help retain players and put into rugby development.’

        The Pro 12 is not as financially buoyant as you think it is. A lot of the games are on FTA/Terrestrial tv in the UK and Ireland which sacrifices the tv deals that they could receive from Sky and BT. Sky do televise some games they only started doing it a couple of years ago.

        The Welsh contribute BBC money to the tv pot but their fans and businesses haven’t really supported the competition. Yes their teams get local sponsorship however the overall competition sponsorship has come from Ireland.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          I know about the pro12. I don’t think anyone expects the current pro12 to pour money into SA teams. The extra money will come from SA teams operating for a proper length season and in the European cup. It will also further the reach of pro12 broadcasting contracts – make it a premier internationsl comp rather than the financially second tier European nations.

    • GoMelbRebels

      They can use talent from elsewhere (Europe) for Pro12 maybe?

    • mikado

      Amongst other things, the two Saffa teams going into the Pro12 could get away with being weaker than they’d need to be in Super Rugby. So they could get away with having cheaper players? That wouldn’t improve the talent resource, but it would at least reduce the number of depressing hidings at the hands of the Kiwis.

  • paul

    It doesn’t sit well, why after they fought so hard for the 6th team is SA a year and a half later are now quite happy to ditch two.

    The problem is you just don’t know what to believe anymore was this on the cards before the reduction was announced. There already saying japan is just there until the World Cup.

    At what stage does the competition lose so much integrity that it becomes redundant.

    • James Pettifer

      About 2 years ago …

    • Bakkies

      ‘It doesn’t sit well, why after they fought so hard for the 6th team is SA a year and a half later are now quite happy to ditch two.’

      They have financial issues like the ARU.

      Interestingly that the new competition they have introduced this year the Supersport Rugby Challenge to run while Super Rugby is on is heavily financed by the main sponsor and broadcaster rather than the union putting most of the money in than seeking sponsorship. It’s explained in short videos (not geoblocked either) posted by the broadcaster to explain the competition.

      This takes the pressure off the union financially. They are using it to take the game to regional areas and communities while giving club players the opportunities to make the step up. Some of the games have also been played as Super Rugby curtain raisers.

      Found out this year on a videocast that the Varsity Cup is completely run and financed by the sponsors without SARU involvement. This development model has to be used going forward to provide opportunities for players to develop without costing the unions a massive arm and a leg.

  • onlinesideline

    the big question: if the Force happen to do really well in next few weeks, as in top the conference and go x far against kiwis / saffas – above everyones expectations, how much pressure would that put on ARU to do an about face ?

    Because I bet you my bottom dollar thats whats brewing in the heads of the force players right now. Will results influence anything or is too late ?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      That will really open up a can of worms, although pushing one good year over all the ones where they have performed to a lesser standard won’t be a big decider.

    • Brisneyland Local

      That is an intersting question. But my thoughts are that performance will have very little to do with it. This will be a money question. Cutting which team costs the ARU the least. Also cutting which team loses the ARU the least skin via conflict and fallout. I think they will be the deciding factors. Not about who is playing best, or what is best for the game and development of rugby across Australia.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      The only way the ARU can reduce to 4 teams is by paying one to withdraw. The only team that is privately owned and can readily be paid to withdraw is the Rebels.

      Rugby WA is a not for profit with a constitutional duty to act on behalf of all rugby in WA. It could in theory be paid off also, but it would have to involve some sort of long term guaranteed benefits to all of Rugby in WA that the member clubs of Rugby WA voted to accept. Not an easy thing to organise.

      Results this year will have very little to do with it. Any long term rational plan will also have very little to do with it. It comes down to which existing contracts and agreements are easiest to change.

      • paul

        The reports are that the ARU have offered Cox $9 million to buy the license back. $9 f_____g million.

        • Missing Link

          Yeah there’s a rumour going around that Cox bought the Rebels off the ARU for $1 and are willing to pay him $9mil to buy them back. I think it’s bollocks to be honest.

          My understanding is Cox paid around 5 or 6 mil, and signed an agreement with the ARU to receive reducing operational payments from them each year for 5 years, at which point the Rebels don’t cost the ARU a cent and it’s all on Cox.

          I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t

        • John Tynan

          To paraphrase Kerry Packer “You only get one Alan Bond in your lifetime, and I’ve had mine”.
          Swap Packer for Cox and Bond for ARU….

        • Bernie Chan

          Bond for Pulver…

        • paul

          That report came from Greg Martin, who said that Cox paid $1 for the license. The 5-6 million could be the money he has had to pump into the team.
          Greg Martin was interviewed on Radio Sport NZ, so i reckon that there could be some truth to it, unlikely he was lying on national radio.

        • GoMelbRebels

          That’ll leave plenty left for grassroots. What?

        • Chinese Dave

          If only there was a way to penalise the CEO for the losses he inflicted, the ARU would be rolling in cash.

    • Missing Link

      I also hope the Force and Rebels end up 1 and 2 in our conference, just to send a big F-U to the ARU

    • GoMelbRebels

      They could have possibly done this based on performance if they said prior to the season starting this is what they are doing. They can’t make up the rules half-way though. Then again, it’s the ARU…

      • Missing Link

        yeah that’s the thing, it’s meant to be an economic decision as to which team is cut, but people keep coming back to “The Force are a better team than the Rebels” or “The Rebels are a better team than the Force”. it’s confusing

    • Hoss

      Not for mine mate – even an ugly dog is capable of licking its balls occasionally.

      If the Force are marked for execution, there aint no last minute reprieve coming, regardless of result.

      For mine the Rebels are history anyhow.

  • Andrew Luscombe

    Intersting announcement over night is that the top 7 Pro12 teams will now be given entry to the European Championships regardless of which nation they are from. Up to now the European Championships qualification has been mostly done on a nations basis – i.e. best Italian team, best Scottish, best two Irish, etc. Now the way is open for any SA teams that end up in the Pro12 ( or Pro14 or whatever) to also qualify for Eutopean Championship.

    Might be an interesting SR bidding process in SA where teams want to get out of SR not in.

    • Missing Link

      I have a feeling that if 2 go, the other 4 will follow and we’ll eventually end up with 5 kiwi teams, the Jaguares, the Sunwolves … and 5 Aussie teams to return to Super 12.

      I also have a feeling that if we lose a team now and then go back to 5 teams in a year or two, the new team wont be based in Perth or Melbourne, it will be based in Western Sydney.

      This has been talked about before but it’s easier to have an excuse to cut a team and set a new one up later than to force a team to relocate. You can always say “we had to do what we had to do at the time, and now this is the best decision at this point in time”

      I wouldn’t put it past the ARU

      • onlinesideline

        I agree, you can sense which way this is going to go. The saffas will start looking north.

        • paul

          The problem is how much will the North want, they may be keen on a couple teams in pro12, but more than that may be overkill.

          They only have to look at Super rugby to know when enough is enough.

          SA can’t exactly relocate there domestic rugby to Europe.

      • Bakkies

        ‘I wouldn’t put it past the ARU’

        The problem is that the NZRU want their teams to play South African sides.

        • Missing Link

          so NZRU will beg SARU to stay, or NZRU will also join Pro12?

        • Bakkies

          Due to time and geography the ARU and/or the NZRU can’t join the Pro 12. Just too difficult to join a 22 round competition that takes 8 to 9 months to complete.

        • Dally M

          The NZRU will back where the money is coming from for now.

          They may reconsider if they can get a share of the revenue from the Northern tours and consider what is best for rugby in the South.

        • Dally M

          That’s because they also want the money that SA contributes to SR & don’t want to give up playing the Boks.

          If you still kept the RC intact with SA teams playing in the Pro12, and came up with a deal that when you accounted for the savings in travel etc. gave NZ a comparable distribution of $’s to what they net now, I reckon they would be up for it. Problem is people have talked about it, but not done any financial modelling to demonstrate how it could work.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        Jaguares are better off in pro12 too.

        Trans Tasman comp in 3 years? Maybe with Fiji and Sunwolves? The problem of balancing teams will remain.

        If they rearrange the European championship schedule to play between Feb and May Aus and NZ teams could play in it too.

    • Kevino

      I have a feeling it’s not going to be both the Kings/Cheetahs going to Pro 12. It’s more likely going to be one of them with a Sharks/Stormers/Bulls to show commitment to moving all sides when the current TV deal finishes.

  • bob

    I thought the whole point of south Africa dropping a team was to condense the playing pool, but now they will still be split across 6 teams?

  • Bobas

    If Mumm wants to reduce anxiety I know something he could do.

    • Ethan

      Retire from International Test Rugby?

    • Kevino

      I have never been a fan of Mumm as a player, don’t know anyone who has.

      But in this case, as a Rupa representative I think he handled the press quite well, watched all 10 minutes of it. Was a bit repetitive with some of his answers but it at least did not look like it was organised and more the media stopping him on the way to the car to answer a few questions.

      • Adrian

        He hasn’t been the worse player ever, and goes well where the game has got loose without too much grind. He has a bit of speed too.

        His speciality though, is as an on-field lineout coach for new and/or inexperienced jumpers. This is true, irrespective of his other weaknesses or family of origin

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yes but that would only reduce our anxiety!

  • Bay35Pablo

    So can we get our cut team to play in Japan’s Top 14?
    NPC in NZ at least ….?
    Christchurch club comp …. ? :)

    • Bobas

      big bash

  • SuckerForRed

    Since we are all talking about South African teams being in Pro12, can I please ask a question : Where are these teams going to be based?
    Opposite seasons means that they will be playing “home” games in summer. Having said that I notice that Johannesburg only has a January average of 21 degrees so it won’t be a hot as playing in winter in Australia. Anyone know what the humidity is?

    • mikado

      Port Elizabeth apparently has an average daytime max of around 26 degrees, which could be challenging for the Celtic Fringe. Although Glasgow on a windy, sleety night in January will be demanding for the Kings too…

      Personally I’d love to see two Saffa teams in the Pro12 but I think there are too many problems with it. Climate is one, logistical costs another, and it’d force the Pro12 to either lengthen their season (which will be difficult to accommodate) or kick out the two Italian teams.

  • Alister Smith

    Let’s start a campaign for Bill Pulver to take the job as head of th ERU – two birds one stone!


Die-hard Brumbies/Country Eagles fan now based in Sydney. Author, anthropologist, musician and second-rower trying to kick start a writing career in an increasingly bonkers world...

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