How Super Rugby is like Financial Planning

I have a confession to make. I am a rugby tragic. To prove the point, I even inserted ‘permission to watch Rugby, including reruns’ into my marriage vows.

In my role as a Financial Adviser, I regularly see the impact of vested interests and actually wrote about why I thought FoFA had been hijacked and will continue to do so.  Financial planning aside, I am very disturbed to report that I am seeing the same pattern in Super Rugby. How can Super Rugby be like Financial Planning, I hear you ask?

Begin with the end in mind

When assisting our clients create financial certainty, we always commence the process with their goals, priorities and comfort zones. Only when you have articulated these can you define your strategy. However, it seems that SANZAR commenced the review with the wrong end in mind.

Some definitions

For those that are new to Rugby, SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby) is the body which operates Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship. It is a joint venture of the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby), the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and was formed in 1996. Super Rugby is the largest professional rugby competition in the Southern Hemisphere and was launched in 1996 with 12 teams from those same countries and has been progressively expanded to the point where we now have five teams from each of the foundation members competing annually for the title. Thank you to Wikipedia for this definition.

Super Rugby to be expanded from 15 to 18 teams

Last week it was announced that Super Rugby would expand from 15 to 18 teams, with the overall structure and design of the competition being changed at the same time.  We will now have an additional South African team, one team from Argentina and a tender process for the final team (most likely to come from Asia). The existing competition will be altered to four conferences, which translates to less games between South African and Australian\New Zealand teams, more finals berths for SA Rugby teams and the likelihood that some teams may never have the experience of playing eachother.

To those involved in approving this restructure I ask:  “How is this in any way respectful of the investment made to date by Super Rugby fans (the ultimate stakeholders),  broadcasters or the remaining foundation partners (the Australian Rugby Union + NZ Rugby)?” With a sixth franchise SA Rugby will receive what they want, along with preferential finals treatment and the economic benefits associated with closer ties to Argentina and the soon to be appointed new team (hopefully from Japan).  In reviewing the new structure, I believe that the issuance of a sixth Super Rugby franchise to SA Rugby by SANZAR was the end goal.

SANZAR have put the desires of SA Rugby before the goals of the collective fans of Super Rugby.  ​Instead of three conferences with five teams each, we will now have two conferences with five teams and two with four teams.  Are you serious? Let’s keep it simple, even better, let’s keep it Super Simple! Here’s a hint​ Mr Peters​ (Greg Peters is the CEO of SANZAR), you won’t need to pay millions of  dollars to Price Waterhouse or BCG to analyse this, as my son could probably grasp the mathematics and logic. Let’s call it the Angus Plan, but first make sure you complete the poll:

[yop_poll id=”2″]

The Angus Plan

The Angus Plan begins with the principle that South Africa, New Zealand and Australia have agreed that they would like to expand the game and that they must each have equal representation in the Super Rugby Competition.  If one party wishes for an additional team, they should use a Premier League relegation style system until such time as all members wish to or have the required talent pool to expand.

18 teams fit nicely into 3 conferences of 6 teams.

  1.  Fans get it and broadcasters get it.
  2.  Approve one team from Argentina, Japan and the Pacific Islands
  3.   If unsure, refer to point 1.

It’s concise and easy to understand and rewards those that have invested in rugby, most notably the Pacific Islands, and in short it is the right thing to do.

Conference 1

Conference 2

Conference 3

Blue Bulls

NSW Waratahs

Auckland Blues

Golden Lions

Queensland Reds

Canterbury Crusaders

E.P. Kings or F.S Cheetahs

ACT Brumbies

Waikato Chiefs

Natal Sharks

Western Force

Wellington Hurricanes

Western Province Stormers

Melbourne Rebels

Otago Highlanders

Argentinian Team

Japanese team

Pacific Islands team

  • Each team plays all teams in their conference once, and two teams in their conference twice
  • Each team plays four teams from the other two conferences once
  • To ensure player welfare, and reduce travel costs, teams can only travel to Argentina or Japan every other year, and not to each in the same year
  • The top two teams in each conference gain entry to the finals, with two wild card entries based on competition points
  • If you want to attract supporters from other codes, you need to bring back the geographical reference to each team

There will no doubt be hundreds of permutations to the above.  All I have sought to do is commence the review process with the right end in mind, and adhered to the view that much like financial planning, rugby should simple, easily understood and based on sound principles with proven outcomes.

Leadership often involves admitting that you have made a mistake, and to all members of the SANZAR Board, now is the time to display this quality and implement the Angus Plan.

Don’t forget to complete the poll, make a comment and share this post via some of the buttons below.  Change begins with a click.

It’s my job to work as my client’s financial ‘lifesaver’ to ensure that they swim between the flags and that they don’t get in over their heads.