Gibson chimes in on Super Rugby restructure

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says a rejig of talent pathways would be needed to maintain five Australian franchises.

The Waratahs take on the Force this weekend, a side who have had constant speculation around their future, with Gibson wary of a team with little to lose.

“The Force are probably really galvanised by any sort of news around their future and I'm sure as a coach and someone who wants to make sure Australia is strong, it's very important that we support the Force,” he said.

While Gibson stopped short of throwing his support behind a smaller Australian contingent, he said a re-think of the country’s road to Super Rugby would need to occur.

“It's definitely an area of concern for us going forward and then if the decision is made to go with five teams I think we're really going to have to look at our development and our pathways and exactly what we're doing in that space,” he said.

“I'm not quite sure what happened years ago in terms of that development pathway.

“It's certainly in our situation in NSW we certainly have enough just to feed ourselves and to feed the rest of Australia in terms of talent, we'd have to really change a lot of things around our own development systems.”

Gibson said he could understand the players’ and administrators’ perspectives when it came to Super Rugby change.

Daryl Gibson thinks there's room to move in the Super Rugby schedule. Photo: Walmsley“I see both sides of those arguments - I see the players' side where they want as many players as possible to play,” he said.

“I also see the idea around four teams and not diluting the talent pool and really spreading it out.

“I see both sides and I guess that's up to the decision makers to decide what they're going to do and us to work out exactly how that's going to work.”

The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) has long advocated for a return to a trans-Tasman format where Australian and New Zealand teams play each other more often.

Former All Blacks centre and Crusaders assistant Gibson was equivocal asked whether that was a desire reflected in New Zealand.

“I'm not sure,” he said

“Obviously with the environment we operate in Australia, I  can really see benefits of making the trans-Tasman competition with the time zone, including Japan.

“New Zealand's needs are unique, South Africa's needs are unique and ours are unique.

“It’s whether we can find a middle ground where everyone's happy.”

The Brumbies have been another side mooted as the unlucky Australian franchise but Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham spoke of the importance of the sport to the local community.

Stephen Larkham has spent his rugby career in the nation's capital. Photo: Walmsley“I think there's a really strong proud history of rugby in Canberra,” he said.

“There's a really strong competition - I think we proved that when we first joined the Super Rugby competition and even before that when we were invited to the Sydney competition and made the finals consistently up there.

“We do have strong, passionate rugby followers in Canberra and we've been the most successful team, we're financially stable, we haven't not paid the ARU back when we have borrowed from them and we feel that we're improving as an organisation.

“For this community, there's a really strong support for the Brumbies down in Canberra, so it's massively important we maintain that.”