Super Rugby shows ITM Cup still needed
At times, it has been difficult to follow. At times, it has been amazing. At times poor match attendances have raised questions over the feasibilty of the ITM Cup, the professional competition involving the strongest New Zealand provinces.
Now the whole model is under revision due to the enormous debt that year by year the New Zealand provincial unions are accumulating. This has been brutally true in the case of the Otago Rugby Union.
So some voices have been heard for the past weeks stating that the ITM Cup model has to be reviewed, that the whole rugby model in New Zealand should be reviewed.
But now that the Super Rugby competition has kicked off, we see the results of that much-maligned ITM Cup.
An ITM Cup where all the Crosswells, Perenaras, Smiths, Barrets, Taylors, Kerr-Barlows, Todds, Hoeatas, Kahuis, Rangers or Crudens have been trialled, have been put under pressure and have come out on top.
More than that, the ITM Cup has rounded up their games. Would you ask Cruden what an influence has Dave Rennie had in his game during the time he was the Head Coach of Manawatu?
When did we all first hear the name of this Perenara kid? What colours other than the colours of the Wellington Lions was he wearing then?
With all these quality players coming through the ranks, is there any option for the New Zealand Rugby Union other than ensuring the preservation of such a wonderful competition?
The rugby season becomes longer year after year, the physicality of the games is not exactly decreasing, according to Wayne Smith.
Is not more depth needed? Do not we hear in every SANZAR country, every Super Rugby coach, that building depth is going to be the key for Super Rugby?
After a very demanding international season, most of the senior players are either battling against time for recovery or out of form (or both). McCaw, Carter, Kaino, Woodcock are injured. Weepu, Slade and Cowan are out of form.
How much can a body be asked year after year before it is too much?
New Zealand is blessed with talent and kiwis should consider themselves fortunate of having such a great competition like the ITM Cup where all this talent is exposed and tested.
I think that competition is going to be vital in years to come to ensure the quality stocks of New Zealand are not seriously diminished.
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