If things did not already seem a bit this side or run down and shabby in the realm of Super Rugby, the suggestion that ridding the Australian sides of foreign players via a Australia First policy downright smacks of desperation.
Apparently, that is the next move of Rugby Australia, the move intended to prop up the fortunes of the code in the aftermath of closing up shop on the Western Force last season.
The Force lasted only since 2006. The Rebels were added in 2011.
It would seem apparent that expansion was not the answer, because from the jingoistic view of Rugby Australia, that expansion required too heavy a reliance on foreign-born rugby players to build competitive lists.
Rugby Australia has shifted its focus to retaining players who would be likely candidates for roles with the Wallabies, but those same players are often lured by the astronomical salaries that European countries, France in particular, can dangle in front of the most talented players.
Rugby is starting to grow in the U.S. as well. If the game ever truly catches on there, the likes of players such as Quade Cooper and younger rising stars will see salaries that will in one season’s work surpass those of a career in Super Rugby.
“Going to four teams means we will work on the foreign talent eligibility because we feel that there’s limited (contracts available),” RA’s high performance manager Ben Whitaker told foxsports.com.au.
Why not three, then?
“We don’t think that there’s as much need to bring in talent (from overseas) that can play and potentially influence whether you win Super or not because we can back our talent in four teams to do that.”
To us outsiders, the move seems fated to failure, as history has shown, not just in sports, but in other societal realms, that fresh DNA is a good thing, not something to be legislated out of existence.