Ex-All Black proposes 'Heineken Cup-style' competition for Super Rugby: Planet Rugby

All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan has made a radical proposal for the format of Super Rugby Pacific to accommodate the Rebels' impending exit from the competition.

Last week it was announced that Rugby Australia (RA) had disbanded the Rebels after the governing body rejected an offer from a private consortium to save the franchise.

The Melbourne-based company has been in voluntary insolvency since January and owes creditors more than A$23 million, including A$11.5 million in taxes.

Since then, RA has taken over the management of the club for the 2024 season and will cover the costs of players and staff for that season. There was hope when a potential buyer proposed a rescue plan.

However, RA rejected this offer and instead decided to exclude the Rebels from Super Rugby Pacific at the end of this season.

Time for an overhaul

This means there will be only 11 clubs competing in the southern hemisphere tournament and Kirwan believes it is time for an overhaul of Super Rugby Pacific.

“I think we should propose the following,” Kirwan said at the The breakdown. “We play ten games every two years, home and away. There is a semi-final and a final, but you only play those when we play in our regions and have a Heineken Cup-style competition.

“We're bringing Japan in, we're bringing America in, and we're playing this for six weeks.”

Former All Blacks legend and winger Jeff Wilson intervened, saying: “That won't happen next year,” and Kirwan replied: “No, because we can't avoid our leadership making quick decisions, but we don't want to go that far yet!”

“We will organize another tournament and then play the Super Rugby final.”

Another great All Blacks player, former full-back Mils Muliaina, agreed with Kirwan's idea and suggested the knockout rounds should be played in a similar way to the Top 14.

“Eleven teams would be fine with me,” he said. “One round and then the best six, and then the top two teams have a break while the others play for a place in the semi-finals.”

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Muliaina said that while the end of the Rebels was sad, it could benefit Australian football in the future.

“I believe this is probably a good thing for Australian rugby and will strengthen the other four teams,” he said.

“It's unfortunate that it's come to this point where they've had to eliminate a team. I think in the long run it could improve the competition a lot.”

Wilson is convinced that RA had to eradicate the rebels.

“It is not unfortunate, it was simply necessary as the Australian Rugby Federation is under financial pressure and so they had to make an important decision in this regard,” he added.

“In terms of depth, they've had problems with that for a long time. I don't think it's going to hurt them in any way.”

More home games needed

Wilson also supported Kirwan's proposal to develop a Heineken Cup-style format for Super Rugby, but said teams would need to play more home games to make it financially viable.

“Are there enough games when you only have 10 games? It's only five home games in a season. Talk to any Super Rugby CEO, that's not enough to sell to sponsors or fans as a total package,” he said.

“I like your idea of ​​the Heineken Cup, I always have, but I think the top 6 makes sense.

“Just play it through for a year and see what it looks like.”

READ MORE: Wallabies legend highlights how Rebels' demise can 'strengthen' other Australian teams