SUPER RUGBY DESPERATELY IN NEED OF REINVENTION

There’s no doubt the current DHL Super Rugby Pacific competition is dead in the water under the current format.

Kind of reminds me of a fish that’s just been landed on the beach and is desperately struggling to get back into the water.

SUPER RUGBY - A TRAIN WRECK OR FIXABLE ?

The competition simply is not competitive enough and apart from the Brumbies, the Aussie teams are just not improving at the rate they need to challenge the New Zealand teams and fans are voting with their feet, or lack of their feet at games.

Once rated arguably the best club competition in the world, SANZAR somehow managed to destroy the brilliant format they initially had when it kicked off in1996. They’ve made so many errors of judgements, major ones, that they’ve all but ruined it, plus financially it’s on life support.

There are still some really good contests but they are mostly derby matches whether they be New Zealand teams up against each other of the Aussie teams battling for supremacy on their home patches.

I don’t have any easy answers how to fix the situation but certainly I do have a few suggestions as I suspect most rugby fans have.

No surprise a good crowd turned up in Wellington to see the Hurricanes and Chiefs do battle in what was a top match. The clash was switched to an afternoon kickoff after the lights upgrade was not ready.

Why play top class rugby in New Zealand at night in winter. It is not a family friendly time, it’s usually freezing cold and it seems everyone including the players and coaches want to play in the sunshine where the natural skills and speed of New Zealand players shine better.

IS AFTERNOON RUGBY PART OF THE ANSWER ?

Former Crusaders coach Robbie Deans suggested this week from his current base in Japan that Super rugby teams could include matches against the top Japan clubs without being specific what format.

A great idea because when Japan had a Super rugby side their home matches attracted near full houses.

Looks like there’s no show of getting the South African sides back into Super rugby, they are doing fine competing in Europe now so maybe administrators can find a way of having a Northern Hemisphere v Southern Hemisphere club shoot out when each other’s respective local competitions are completed, for example the top four from each competition and of course there is the French club competition which is also strong.

Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika have certainly added to the competition here, their addition long overdue.

Rugby is still very young as a professional sport compared to other major codes around the world like soccer and basketball so the competition formats are still evolving.

Two of the best club competitions are here in Australia in sports very few other countries around the world play, AFL Aussie rules and the National Rugby League. Big crowds turn up to most matches and the competition between the teams is generally close so as a fan you can turn up with realistic expectations your team can win.

WHAT ARE THEY DOING RIGHT AND RUGBY CAN LEARN FROM.

The AFL staged a very successful Gather Round, a festival of footy last week based in Adelaide where every team in the competition played at various venues around the state including country grounds. All weekend the players and coaches were unanimous in their praise for the concept.

The fans too loved it, all nine games sold out, more than 220,000 fans attending matches across Adelaide Oval, Norwood Oval and Mount Barker and tens of thousands of fans attending the footy festival on the banks of the Torrens River. More than 60,000 fans purchased tickets from interstate.

South Australia now has this event locked in for three years and you can bet it is only going to get even more popular.

Rugby League also have a successful super round weekend and SANZAR has one too but what a disaster. Of all the places to play a full round of matches of Super rugby in one place, Melbourne would be the last place you’d pick. It has no rugby tradition, no significant rugby following and trying to compete there with the AFL is not only futile but plain dumb.

Have the super round in Brisbane where the hundreds of thousands of ex-pat Kiwis would guarantee good crowds would turn up or in Auckland. Children under 13 should get in free and, like the AFL round last week, have an inter-active venue where fans can try their skills at the game at stations around the ground.

At least do something because I’m a total rugby tragic and even I’m struggling to stay engaged with Super rugby.

LEVI AUMUA - UNLUCKY

SUPER RUGBY HOT TOPICS

Former All Black Sir John Kirwan has questioned why Moana Pasifika’s outstanding mid-fielder Levi Aumua would be picked for the All Blacks believing that team should be a breeding ground for players to represent Pacific Island teams at international level.

Totally disagree, rugby is a business, that’s Aumua’s job and if his aim is to play for All Blacks then all power to him and he sure is making every post a winner in that bid.

Really good to see All Blacks captain Sam Cane rediscover his best form so far this season in co-captaining the Chiefs. He copped a fair bit of flack, including from us here at AbsolutelyFamous for his below par form last year. However with time to put in a good pre season and now being injury free he’s back with a vengeance and one of several reasons why the Chiefs should win this year’s Super rugby championship.

Another reason is their outstanding coach Clayton McMillan who this week signed on until 2026 as head coach. Not hard to see him joining an All Blacks coaching set-up in future.

CLAYTON McMILLAN - WHAT A DIFFERENCE HE HAS MADE.

Commiserations to Crusaders stars, winger Sevu Reece and prop George Bower, injuries ruling both out of the World Cup. Must be a really tough situation to deal with but hopefully they will recover and bounce back better than ever.

Feature match-up this weekend could be a clash between two struggling teams in Perth, the Western Force v Highlanders on Saturday. I expect the competition leading Chiefs to beat Fijian Drua in Hamilton and the Crusaders should do likewise to the Rebels in Melbourne. The Blues to beat the Waratahs at Eden Park.

Have a great week, give us your opinions and best of luck with your team’s result.

Interview & Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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