Thursday, March 05, 2009

McCaw backs Super review

BRING IT ON: Crusaders captain Richie McCaw says
a review of super rugby is inevitable.

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw endorses Sanzar's proposed expansion of the Super 14, saying changes are "inevitable".

Sanzar, the rugby body representing New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, met in Dubai and decided to form a working party to investigate increasing the competition to 15 teams by 2011, along with reviewing the Tri-Nations structure.

"I think it's inevitable that something needs to be done," McCaw said yesterday.

"If we can get something that works better than we have got at the moment, you have to go for it and try and work out the best thing that is going to suit southern hemisphere rugby, not just New Zealand but everywhere."

A Super 15, which was likely to include geographically-based conferences and expanded finals, would involve more local derbies before cross-conference fixtures.

The expanded format would have an impact on New Zealand's provincial competition, although McCaw pointed out that the All Blacks already have a limited involvement in the Air New Zealand Cup. This year's final has been scheduled for November 7 when the All Blacks will be on the end-of-season tour.

"That's already been stated that the expectation is that you won't see many All Blacks playing in the Air NZ Cup."

While the Air NZ Cup still provided an opportunity for injured players to appear for their provinces during their return to full fitness, McCaw said it was important to ensure the right decisions were made during the latest restructure.

"From everyone's point of view, you don't want to see two competitions that are half-cocked really because you just haven't got the right guys for the right times. If we can make something that's really enjoyable for everyone watching and playing, that's what we have got to be after. I don't know what the magic answer is and that's what everyone is trying to find at the moment."

The Super 15 could kick off in March. Starting later would allow All Blacks to have a longer off-season to recover from injuries and McCaw welcomed an extended format, noting the "short" Super 14 format was ruthless for teams that made a slow start.

"It will give teams a chance to work their way into things. You will be able to start a bit later as well and that will give a window for guys to be really raring to go and I think it will up the interest with a few extra teams."

Still to be worked out is where the extra team will be based Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, the Pacific Islands or the United States.

"We can't get this wrong really because it's a pretty important time for rugby worldwide," McCaw said on the revamp.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder gave the nod to Sanzar's plans and said Super rugby could be played during the Tri-Nations, rather than taking a break during the test schedule. "We have got large squads and we should still play during that."

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