John Dobson. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a pretty direct interest in Super Rugby having to resume within the next few weeks. And my colleagues do too.
No sport equals – eventually – nothing to write about.
But we’re not really the important figures in this coronavirus drama.
The people who need the tournament to reignite again are the franchises themselves.
Stormers coach John Dobson had quite a few anxious observers and supporters hot under the collar after he questioned last weekend’s decision to suspend Super Rugby for the “foreseeable future”. Strikingly, the outspoken mentor stated “political correctness”, obscuring the fact that decision-makers would be toying with livelihoods.
The actual core of Dobson’s argument revolves around continuing the tournament in empty stadiums.
Nobody is saying that the South African Rugby Union should suddenly decide to resume local competitive action within the next week or so. In fact, a tentative 25 April date for a review of rugby’s curfew is a decent one.
But then there needs to be a sober debate after that.
Super Rugby is not the English Premier League, especially on a financial front. The fan base is fundamentally different too.
Whether we like it or not, we don’t go out to support our favourite teams anymore. SuperSport is the party that keeps rugby going in this country.
Check any franchise’s financial statements and you’d see they ain’t exactly making money from gate earnings. Broadcast money is the lifeblood of the sport.
This is why the empty stadium proposal is quite attractive.
It allows SuperSport to have something to offer subscribers again and attract the advertising that keeps the franchises alive.
Hell, the Aussies are restarting early next month already.
We also won’t have the public health problem of English football fans drumming around a closed-off stadium in their thousands just because they can’t access the game on TV.
We can’t shoot down the idea just because it doesn’t fit into the current narrative over the virus.
Heinz Schenk. Picture: Michel Bega
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