As the Bill Pulver era comes to an end and the Raelene Castle era is about to begin, the news coming out of Super Rugby is somewhat cheerful.
In order to accommodate displaced Western Force players, the league will permit roster sizes to expand and they have also scraped together an additional half million dollars of salary cap space following a year that is better forgotten sooner, rather than later.
Axing the Western Force was not the most positive way to go out, but Pulver did what he had to do. It will take time for the rift created between Rugby Australia and Western Australia Super Rugby fans to heal, but the franchise was bleeding badly and threatened to take the rest of Super Rugby down.
The task ahead of Castle is to find a way to put fannies in the seats at games, which could in turn lead to a boost of the revenues from broadcast rights that will need to be renegotiated at the end of the 2020 season.
Pulver did the best he could under trying circumstances, as Super Rugby has struggled for various reasons; one of those being that viewership was impacted by having the competition spread out across so many time zones.
The league depends on the Australian audience as well and if an Australian based team could find a reliable way to win against the Kiwis, things would automatically take on a healthier perspective.
Pulver was not observed raiding the office supplies closet at headquarters, which is a positive sign.
Instead, he said, “Because clearly we’ve been through a rather painful process last year of reducing from five Super Rugby teams to four. When you look at the player list from the four remaining teams they’re very strong. “Super Rugby starts in February and we’re very confident of much better results this year. In the large part, if the teams perform well on the paddock, the crowds will come and watch.”
That is the hope, at any rate. Super Rugby typically suffers a crash in interest when the NRL resumes the following month.