Deans calls for Super 14 expansion

Date published: February 4 2008

Crusaders and Wallaby coach Robbie Deans said that the only way South Africa, Australia and New Zealand could stop the mass player exodus to Europe and Japan was by expanding the Super 14 professional window.

Crusaders and Wallaby coach Robbie Deans said that the only way South Africa, Australia and New Zealand could stop the mass player exodus to Europe and Japan was by expanding the Super 14 professional window.

He explained that by allowing New Zealand or Australian players to play for South African teams and vice versa and still be eligible for national selection, SANZAR (the tournament's governing body) would not only create more interest in the game, but also be able to generate more revenue.

“I would suggest in time, just crystal ball-gazing, Australia and New Zealand may open up selection offshore, but only if they are playing in the same competition,” Deans told the Australian newspaper on Monday.

“You could select Australians to play Super 14 in Africa and New Zealand and vice versa,” added Deans.

“It would create interest in terms of selection. It is the same task. You are looking at footage from the same competition. It's neither here nor there.”

He explained that the tournament as it stood simply didn't have a big enough market to generate revenue and until that changed the Southern Hemisphere wouldn't be able to compete with its Northern Hemisphere counterparts financially.

“Our market is not as big and we don't have the same ability to generate revenue as they have in the Northern Hemisphere and we are suffering at the hands of the Northern Hemisphere, in terms of player drain.

“We have to find a way of catering for the players' professional needs in the Southern Hemisphere,” added Deans.

“The only way to do that is to expand the professional window. That's the only way we can compete in the global market.”

While some rugby stakeholders may be resistant to change, Deans said it was inevitable, as it just needed to happen.

The Crusaders coach said players should be free to play in whichever team they wanted to.

Deans also backed suggestions that the Super 14 should be increased into two rounds, which some pundits say might be impractical as it would interfere with the international season,