Sunday 17 December 2017 / 03:02 PM

SUNWOLVES, KINGS SHOULD GET THE CHOP

With just a week of Super Rugby under our belts in 2017, it appears that similar failings may rear their ugly heads again in the case of the Sunwolves and Southern Kings.

In week one, the Sunwolves were on the wrong end of an 83-17 blowout at the hands of the Hurricanes. The Southern Kings went down to the Jaguares 39-26 in a slightly more respectable performance. Both sides played in front of their home fans, and both were disappointing despite the higher quality opposition.

The Sunwolves and Kings struggled last season as well – badly. It could be argued that predicting similar outcomes so early in the season is a slightly radical way of thinking. But 12 months on, it still appears that the Kings, and the Sunwolves to a lesser extent, are simply making up the numbers of an ever-expanding Super Rugby.

Long gone are the days where Super Rugby was a competition in which the best clubs from their respective countries in the Southern Hemisphere. The competition continues to expand, and there are already rumblings of it branching out further before any real talk of a global season is had by the sport’s governing bodies.

A Pacific-based Super Rugby side that will home itself in Fiji is a distinct possibility, and there are already suggestions of maybe venturing into the American market. All this goes on the assumption that a second Argentine side, or yet another Australian club, would come along in the meantime.

Following the success of Japan during the 2015 Rugby World Cup – and the fact they will host the 2019 tournament – the relative minnow country in rugby terms is now seen as a bright prospect for success long term. But perhaps the Sunwolves were introduced to Super Rugby before their time. The Japan Top League is where Japanese rugby needs to continue its journey to being a credible force in the future. How much has the financial investment in the Sunwolves to compete in Super Rugby hindered other aspects of rugby in Japan?

The situation is even worse for the Southern Kings, a club that has been a shambles since returning to the Super Rugby fold last year. In 2016, the Kings won just two matches. Their worst loss was a 53-0 thrashing by the Sharks. Crowds at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium are laughable, less than a quarter full each time. For all the problems South African rugby had in 2016, their commitment to a new Super Rugby franchise was one of the most glaring.

Perhaps it’s time that Super Rugby went back to what it was meant to be. Some of the fixtures on the schedule this season are almost certain to be one-sided, boring and pointless occasions for the more established sides with actual title aspirations.

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Michael Pulman

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

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