Tuesday 17 October 2017 / 08:42 PM

REBELS LUCKY TO SURVIVE THE CHOP

From 2018, the Super Rugby competition will feature 15 teams – but SANZAAR could have gotten away with cutting one more side.

No official announcement has been made yet, but it’s predicted that South Africa will lose two sides: the Southern Kings and Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs. In Australia, the Western Force are the most likely to find themselves on the chopping block.

For the players and management at these franchises, you can understand their frustration, because at the end of the day they’re just trying to make a living.

It’s all very well and good to sit back and question why Super Rugby got to the point where it had too many teams, but the answer remains expansion and money. I’ve been a critic of Japan having a side in the competition; and out of the three teams to get the cull, the Sunwolves should have been more closely considered.

Again, I understand the benefits of growing the competition, but it all felt like it was rushed out the door a little.

Returning to the present, there is clearly a lot of disdain among players about the changes. Outspoken Force veteran Matt Hodgson is a great example of that, and the response from his team’s fans has certainly been noticeable.

But as sad as it is for everyone associated with the Force, could it be argued that the Melbourne Rebels should go as well? The difference between financial backing at the two clubs is sizeable; the Rebels have much more capital behind them. Not so much for the Force.

But if you look Melbourne for a moment, is rugby ever going to be competitive with the AFL? Absolutely not.

The Rebels have been less than a success in Super Rugby, and it feels like the club is just there to make up the numbers. The Rebels should go, because unlike the Reds from Queensland, the Rebels have not captured a Super Rugby title. Perhaps it could be a good thing for Australian rugby?

Let’s not forget how stressed the ARU is from a financial standpoint. The problems for players seeking professional options on home soil would, of course, get even worse if two teams were cut. But is it fair to say that players, and some noteworthy ones, have already headed offshore when five Super Rugby clubs were available?

Cutting one, or even two of those, shouldn’t have much sway in either direction on that front.

SANZAAR needed to cut one more team ahead of the 2018 competition; unfortunately for Australia, it needed to be the Rebels.

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Michael Pulman

Based in Hamilton (NZ), Michael is Commentary Box Sports' rugby union and cricket expert

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