Cape Town – The northern hemisphere’s European Champions Cup beats the southern hemisphere’s Super Rugby “hands down”.
That is the view of former England flyhalf and rugby pundit Stuart Barnes, who shared his views via a column for the UK-based The Times.
Barnes admitted that the quality of rugby may not always be eye-catching, but gave reasons why he felt the European product was better than Super Rugby.
“The magic isn’t what happens on the field, rather what surrounds the 80 minutes. A packed stadium hides the reality of a rotten match, while empty terraces can turn television viewers away from a rather good game,” Barnes wrote.
Super Rugby’s conference system has copped criticism in recent times and crowd attendances have dwindled.
Bumper crowds are commonplace in Europe and Barnes believes the closer proximity allow fans to travel for away games.
“When South African franchises play Kiwi counterparts, television cameras struggle to locate more than a pocket of away fans. The stands are nearer empty than full. Europe has a more manageable proximity with a range of varying cultures within a few hours of one another,” Barnes added.
The 57-year-old, who played 10 Test for England between 1984 and 1993, added that the atmosphere at European Champions Cup games is better.
“Super Rugby has been forced to turn their pool stage fixtures into predominantly national leagues. Australians are losing interest in the whole concept while even in New Zealand, where the ‘derbies’ are often of outstanding quality, the match can lack the atmosphere of a struggling Bath against a Clermont team who lost to Ulster in round two of the Champions Cup. Super Rugby has become a ‘television tournament’; globally transmitted, its vast distances a mistake of massive magnitude.”
– Compiled by Herman Mostert