sonic_attack wrote:Australia doesn't have 5 competitive teams to match New Zealand. I don't see the harm in accepting that at least, its really not that big a deal, it's just the way it is.
I can see the argument for both sides, but it's like Australia is going down the same road that got them where they were pre covid, which wasn't much prettier than where they are right now.
I agree with that proposition, but in no way does that automatically mean less Aussie teams.
It.could also be offset by
1. Another kiwi team
2. Expanded player eligibility
I'm not sure New Zealand could field another team that would be as competitive as the existing five, or if another team was created it wouldn't just steal from the existing sides. NZ has had a pretty good balance with the 5 sides from inception. For the most part every NZ team has been competitive even when losing more than they win. I don't believe over the course of super rugby New Zealand were gifted or developed a bunch of excess quality players, the production line has been pretty stable through 20+ years.
Australia and South Africa just overreached with expansion diluting the quality of their super rugby inception sides, so I don't believe expansion is a sound model for NZ to follow.
Super 12 probably showed the limits of all three nations really and the best balance overall. My memory of that time was any two teams on any day could pretty much topple the opposition which is probably why we were all so engaged in it.
Maybe 3 is the right number for Australia. It trims off a bunch of expense for the ARU and pushes the players into a tighter grouping of quality. The same way it does in New Zealand when we compact the 10-11 top NPC provincial sides into just 5 regional franchises. It seems in hindsight there's evidence to suggest Australia did much better with 3 than with 5.
I haven't really considered the economics of 3 V 5 teams for Australia in terms of income from TV but at some stage the margin must just get very tight with more teams to feed. It seems the ARU were barely rowing the boat with 4 teams, struggling hard right up until Covid.
From the outside it looks like Australia squeezing blood from a stone. 3 super rugby teams would be about level par with NZ, possibly stronger. I don't imagine the Wallabies being less competitive because of it. There's probably more upsides than downsides for Australia by contracting and becoming stronger for it.
In saying all that I'm not entirely sure how NZRU came to 8 being the magic number. Would work for home/away presumably but we have pretty clear evidence 12 teams works very well as a round Robin with semis and a final inside a 4 month window.