Wallabies assistant coach Pierre-Henry Broncan has slammed the state of Super Rugby as a key reason for Australia’s disappointing World Cup campaign.
The lack of pressure and consequences in the reformed Super Rugby Pacific was a big reason why according to the former French professional who has decades of experience playing and coaching in France.
There is no threat of relegation in Super Rugby Pacific which means that teams can play with freedom, while eight of the 12 teams ultimately make the playoffs with many making the cut with losing records.
Broncan believed that this lack of pressure doesn’t bode well for knock-out rugby at the Rugby World Cup.
“If you’re looking for a big difference between the Top 14, the European Cup and Super Rugby in Australia and New Zealand, it’s pressure,” he told reporters ahead of Australia’s pool game with Portugal.
“In France, the pressure is present in every match, because the question of relegation or qualification (for places in the final stages or in the European Cup) weighs heavily. This is very important for European teams.
“In Super Rugby there is no relegation, you just play to win the competition. Which is a very good thing, but it’s only between the New Zealand and Australian teams.
“You will see the next World Cup matches, the quarter-finals, the semi-finals or the final, there will be enormous pressure on the pitch. Many matches will end in a very close score and a match will be won or lost in the last five or ten minutes.
“Today, our team is not ready for that. At half-time in the Wales game I was convinced we were going to win. Ten points [the payout between Australia and Wales] is nothing. But we started the second period by conceding a penalty, and it was over.
“We must be able to change in the future.”
Super Rugby Pacific features 10 teams from New Zealand and Australia with two others representing the Pacific Islands following the split with South Africa.
The parity of the league is often lopsided with only the Brumbies putting up consistent wins over their New Zealand counterparts this season.
Only the Brumbies finished with a winning record in 2023 at 10-4, with the Waratahs (6-8), Reds (5-9), Western Force (5-9), and Rebels (4-10) all failing to win half of their games.
“The Brumbies (Australian Super Rugby franchise) are a good example to follow because they have a very strong team capable of beating the New Zealand teams today.
“The other Australian teams found it very difficult to beat the New Zealand teams. Sorry, but it’s reality. We need to change that first.”
The four South African teams left for Europe in 2020 which Broncan believed has weakened the competition and given the northern hemisphere an advantage.
“Before Covid, with the South African and Japanese teams, the Jaguares in Argentina, it was a great competition,” he said.
“Today, I think that between Super Rugby and the national championship, we have to create an environment for the national team and train every week, every month together.
“When there was Super Rugby with the South African teams, the competition was very tough. Today, South African teams are playing in the European Cup and that is an advantage for the northern hemisphere.”