Wessels calls for greater Super Rugby equity

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rebels coach Dave Wessels has called for greater equalisation in Super Rugby, after his side’s 55-10 thumping at the hands of the Crusaders.

The Rebels came back to Melbourne this week from their South African tour, facing the Crusaders, who opted to remain in Australia after beating the Brumbies last weekend, travelling down from Sydney.

Though Wessels was quick to say travel challenges weren’t an excuse, he said more should be done to help historically struggling clubs when it came to the draw.

“The championship team travelled a 45-minute flight or whatever it is,” he said.

“We travelled 24 hours and that’s something Super Rugby generally has to look at.

“One of the reasons AFL is so popular is they’ve got an equalisation model in whatever it is that they’re doing to give everyone a fair bite of the cherry and while the Crusaders might say at different times they have to do that travel, the difference is they’re a club that’s used to winning and have that momentum.

“I think Super Rugby needs to think about giving the clubs that don’t have the momentum some of that because if you look at the success that AFL’s had  with that model, why wouldn’t we be thinking about some of those things?”

The Rebels were back in Melbourne on Monday, after a full day of flying back from South Africa, with Wessels saying jet lag was their biggest enemy ahead of a Friday night game.

“I think if you were to ask me what has been our number one challenge this week it’s jetlag and the Crusaders didn’t have jetlag, the Crusaders came from Canberra,” he said.

“They’ve had an extra day’s training because we had the flight and I’m not saying that’s an excuse`I just think it’s something that Super Rugby should be looking at because it certainly has made the week more difficult for us.”

The Rebels started the season on fire, but have dropped four of their past five matches, to slip down the ladder, and Wessels was clearly frustrated after a 13-10 half-time scoreline blew out in the last half an hour.

Asked if he had confidence in his side in the midst of its slump, Wessels pointed to the Rebels’ poor history for perspective.

“I think people have lost sight of the fact that last year this club won one game and we’ve broken a lot of records and we’ve done some special things,” he said.

“Are we good enough to beat the Crusaders right now? No - I knew that before the game.

“What he have to keep sight of is what do we have to do to close the gap.

“We have to keep chipping away at that gap and keep people accountable.

“That’s really the key thing. That’s probably aside from the scoreline, that’s probably the difference in that last 30.”

The severity of Will Genia’s knee injury is not yet known, but the Rebels are expecting to welcome back Dane Haylett-Petty against the Brumbies in eight days' time.