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As attendances fall, top UK pundit says Super Rugby a 'television tournament'

English rugby broadcaster Stuart Barnes has taken aim at Super Rugby, saying that the southern hemisphere's premier competition fails to match up to Europe's Champions Cup.

Sam Whitelock lifts the Super Rugby trophy Source: Photosport

With Super Rugby seemingly at a crossroads, and unaware of what it's trying to be as a competition, Barnes labelled the competition as a "television tournament," lamenting low viewing figures, and even lower crowd numbers.

Barnes eager to point out that his issue does not lie within the on-field quality of Super Rugby, merely that declining interest shows a greater audience interest pointing north.

"Super Rugby has been forced to turn their pool stage fixtures into predominantly national leagues," Barnes wrote in the Telegraph.

"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."

Comparatively, Europe's Champions Cup continues to draw fans to both television audiences, as well as matchday attendees.

The 2018/19 Champions Cup drew in an average attendance of 13,061 fans, while Super Rugby's number comes in at a lower 12,879 (via Sportcal).

However, Super Rugby's number continues a worrying trend, this season's average attendance numbers down six per cent compared to 2018 in New Zealand alone.