Former NZRU chief executive David Moffett believes that taking Super Rugby from a "ludicrous" 18-team competition back to a 12-team one must be the starting point to rebuild the struggling Wallabies.

Moffett, the man who helped guide rugby into the professional era 21 years ago, would axe the Melbourne Rebels or Western Force to consolidate Australia's depth into four clubs.

"It's not just about one shocking loss to the All Blacks but a shake-up for the whole code to better address what is important," Moffett said to the Courier Mail.

He said the crowd of 65,328 for Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney, almost 20,000 people short of max capacity, concerned him nearly as much as the numbers on the scoreboard.


"I was gobsmacked by the small crowd, which reflects a whole lot of reasons including the disconnect from the new Super Rugby format, an overcomplicated rule book, fans being judicious on their sports spend and the series loss to England," Moffett said.

Along with acting as chief executive for the NZRU and NSWRU, Moffett also headed the NRL between 1999-2001.

The first step in Moffett's plan of attack would be a brutal overhaul of Super Rugby as he feels SANZAAR, the body he once was at the helm of, has veered off course.

"SANZAAR has taken the view it is for them to develop rugby outside Europe and that's not its role," Moffett said.

"The pursuit of quantity over quality is a nightmare with Japan, other weaker teams involved and talk of 20 and 24 teams in the future.

"Fans switched off from the ludicrous four-conference format this year when all they want to turn them on again is a competition they understand and quality.

"I'd return the competition to 12 teams and play home-and-away with four each from Australia, NZ and South Africa.

"Getting rid of the Rebels or Force would be tough on them but why are we paying journeyman players big money to pad out five teams when we only have the strength for four.

"The Super Rugby set-up is part of the Wallabies' downfall."

Moffett added he would direct the savings from cutting a club into getting rugby in more schools, development and keeping stars away from Europe.

"Rugby's footprint around Australia has never been threatened more with the five-tackle-kick game of rugby league, AFL and football competing for future players and fans," Moffett said.