ARU decision looms as next generation shows positives

The future of Australian Super Rugby will be decided in the next 36 hours, as the ARU moves to make a definitive call on its structure.

While SANZAAR would have to make an official announcement before the Australians, the ARU is set to finally make its decision independent of South Africa.

Until this point, Australia had been holding out for the South Africans to ratify the agreement made in March’s SANZAAR executive meeting, believed to be a 15-team format that involved cutting two South African and one Australian team.

A board meeting is set to be held on Sunday ahead of the ARU’s AGM on Monday where the directors will vote on whether to commit to the 15-team format and which team should go in that event.

Australia’s board is believed to be split over the potential of axing a team and then who that would be, with the Force still looming as the most vulnerable franchise.

The man at the front line of the next generation, U20s coach Simon Cron believes there’s enough talent in Australia to make the Wallabies and Australian Super Rugby successful long-term.

Cron has just finished his first week in camp with the 2017 crop, his first as the national coach and while he stayed away from leaning towards a  preferred structure, he praised the depth of talent coming through.

“From my point of view, the number of teams we have in Super Rugby that’s probably something that the administration have a much better understanding of, just because of the finances and things,” he said.

“From my point of view when you look at the boys in that camp, they can be as good as any team in the world.”

“I believe by the time we get on that plane to (July’s World Championships in) Georgia the time frames work out quite well.

“We’ve got a good camp at the AIS, we’ve got time to spend with them, so I reckon those boys have all the potential in the world and you’ll see some of these 20s boys will end up being Super Rugby stars and Wallabies, I’ve got no doubt.”

Cron, who is splitting his U20s duties with a role as Northern Suburbs head coach, said the talent in club rugby and across the country was enough to keep Australian rugby growing.

“We’ve got the clientele, we’ve got the people here, we’ve just got to keep building, got to keep promoting the game in the right light and then everyone else wants to play it, because it is the best game.”

It is a program like the Australia U20s that would potentially benefit financially should the ARU opt to axe a team, bringing with it the relief of that financial burden, opening up the possibilities of more U20s camps or a longer program that could start well before the annual championships.

After this week’s camp, the U20s group will be cut from 48 players to 30 players ahead of the Oceania Championships at the end of this month, to be played between Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and Fiji.