Give the All Blacks the bullet from this year’s Rugby Championship. Their failure to make the Perth Test match against Australia should be a forfeit of points, but they should be withdrawn from the tournament, writes Mark Keohane.
Why are three other teams being prejudiced to cater for every whim of the All Blacks?
On Thursday I wrote that it would be the most wonderful celebration of the Springboks versus All Blacks rivalry to celebrate the 100th Test between the two countries at Twickenham in front of a capacity crowd.
However, the New Zealand Rugby Union has now decided any future competition games will be on their terms or no terms at all.
Give them their wish … no terms at all.
Let’s move on without them.
Equally, this should be the stance of South African rugby when it comes to Sanzaar.
The Sanzaar alliance has always favoured New Zealand first. It really is time to end a partnership that has never been on equal terms. South African rugby’s days with Sanzaar should not extend the 2023 Rugby World Cup. It is time to move on from New Zealand and Australia.
It should be a case of ‘see you at the World Cup’ when it comes to the Springboks playing the All Blacks and Australia.
Alternatively, see you in the United States for a commercially motivated exhibition game.
Or if the All Blacks want to play the Springboks, then it becomes part of the end of your tour, with the Springboks aligned to the northern hemisphere.
The All Blacks ruled the rugby world from 2011 to 2018. That decade produced the greatest All Blacks team in history and unprecedented success. All credit to the coaches, the mighty Richie McCaw, the incomparable Dan Carter and the many splendid players.
But the All Blacks can have their Bledisloe Cup side-show with Australia.
The All Blacks have won the Cup 19 years in a row, but every All Black talks of it being the biggest achievement outside of winning a World Cup. Give them their Bledisloe Cup guarantee and allow them to go to the World Cup every four years to see if this dominance over Australia translates into global superiority.
The New Zealand Rugby Union, in the way its leadership conducted itself during Super Rugby and now during the Rugby Championship, is self-serving, about the All Blacks only and has no meaningful investment in the Sanzaar alliance, outside of how it serves New Zealand.
It has always been New Zealand’s approach to the development of the Pacific Islands teams like Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. New Zealand rugby conveniently has always made it a World Rugby issue and not one of the most established rugby power making the Pacific Islands competitive and adding something more than just Australia to their immediate landscape.
South African rugby has never been the beneficiary of playing in Super Rugby and it has transferred to the Rugby Championships. Super Rugby is now gone and South Africa will play up north with the formation of the United Rugby Championship, which will feature the Stormers, Bulls, Lions and Sharks.
There has been an ongoing call for the Springboks to be added to an expanded Six Nations or replace the tournament’s whipping boys Italy. Half the Springboks Test squad plays for clubs up north and the South African rugby alignment should be on a flight to London and not Sydney.
If Italy’s place is non-negotiable, then add the Springboks and Argentina to an expanded Six Nations and make it the most sought after international annual tournament with these eight nations. Let New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the Pacific Islands have their international tournament.
The All Blacks on Friday simply pulled the rug on their second Rugby Championship fixture against the Wallabies in Perth, which is a match that would have doubled as the third and final Bledisloe Cup match in a series the All Blacks have already won for the 19th successive year.
Now Sanzaar’s remaining partners, South Africa, Australia and Argentina are scrambling to either relocate the tournament to South Africa or to Europe, while Rugby Australia is desperate to get local government approval from Queensland for the Championship to be played in Brisbane.
The tournament should either be held in Europe or in South Africa, given the Covid situation in Australia and New Zealand and the closing of international borders.
If the All Blacks can’t make their games, then they should forfeit the points or they should withdraw from the tournament and allow Australia, South Africa and Argentina to get on with it.
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