The Wrap: Super Rugby continues to shoot itself in the foot

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    If Super Rugby was a player it would be Tomas Lavanini – talented, gifted and athletic, but guaranteed to destroy all of the good work with moments of inexplicable madness.

    Round 8 delivered post-siren drama in Napier, brave resolve from the Blues, an Australian derby sprinkled with tries and a classic lesson in modern rugby from a resurgent Lions.

    Yet for all of the reinforcement that Super Rugby continues to offer a standard that consistently surpasses other global club/franchise competitions, all is still not well in the house of SANZAAR. A glance at the respective standings tells us why.

    The English Premiership table shows us that all 12 sides have played 19 games. No problems there for fans wanting to get a gauge on their teams’ progress. But what about fans wanting to check to see how their Super Rugby side is travelling after eight rounds?

    Well for a start, the official SANZAAR website doesn’t provide such a table. What it does provide is three conference tables, five teams in each and, for the industrious among us, an opportunity to scan, compare and figure out the overall standings for ourselves.

    A very reasonable question might be, ‘why is it left for followers to do this themselves?’ After all, I had fish and chips the other night and while I could have peeled the potatoes myself, the hotel kitchen sensibly adopted the view that, in the interests of customer service, they would do it for me.

    Closer examination provides a clue. Fourth in the New Zealand conference, on 14 points, are the Highlanders. Leading the South African conference are the Lions, on 25 points. But comparisons are rendered meaningless because the Lions have played eight matches against the Highlanders’ five.

    If SANZAAR wants more than just hardcore rugby nuts to engage with Super Rugby one fundamental is that everything must make sense to them. A competition that is eight rounds old, containing a side that has played five matches, fails this test.

    After copping fierce criticism in recent seasons for maintaining an unbalanced draw and unfair method of finals qualification, SANZAAR adopted a number of changes this year that went some way to rectifying matters. But it is clear that there is much still to be done.

    Even if the size of the bowl has been reduced, a dog’s breakfast is still a dog’s breakfast.

    Some will point to the conference system – largely foreign to Australian and New Zealand audiences – as the problem, but there is a sound argument that it this is an appropriate device for a 15-team, geographically stretched competition, where one full round of 14 matches would provide broadcasters with too little action. If only that argument was better communicated and sold to fans.

    Long-distance travel requirements and the June Test window are factors that add complexity, as is the conscious move this year to keep Australian and New Zealand franchises separated for as long as possible, to provide better momentum.

    But the relative position of the Lions and Highlanders simply reinforces SANZAAR’s two biggest failings – that its governance structure provides for internal conflicts and decision-making that benefit some aspects of Southern Hemisphere rugby to the detriment of others, and that its unwieldy, geographically disparate construction ensures that it remains detached from fans, and renders it unable to deliver a Super Rugby competition that fans can own and love.

    As ever, SANZAAR’s saviour is the players, and once again they delivered over the weekend. The opening match was remarkable for the way the Sharks (inspired by Napier’s aquarium?) unexpectedly schooled the heavily favoured Hurricanes, and nobody would have argued against them taking a deserved win.

    But they learned a hard lesson that a rugby match lasts the whole 85 minutes and 46 seconds, and for all their evident improvement they return home from an arduous tour with only one win from four matches – and that against the lowly Blues.

    For their part the Hurricanes learned that it is a Bob Beamon-like leap from TJ Perenara to third-string halfback Jamie Booth. Three kicks charged-down and another one out on the full within a fifteen minute spell had locals tearing their hair out, and others wondering if this was a sign that the famed NZ talent conveyor belt isn’t, as previously thought, endless?

    The 38-37 win was brilliantly taken however, via a 95m scoring drive, with cool heads and a touch of ‘boys own’ in the way the denouement was provided by local Magpie Ihaia West, celebrating his signing mid-week to powerhouse French club La Rochelle.

    Vince Aso

    (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

    The Waratahs emerged from a Tokyo wind tunnel having romped it in, 50-29 against the hapless Sunwolves. To say this match lacked defensive intensity was like saying Israel Folau faces an interesting meeting this week with Raelene Castle.

    It’s tempting to keep repeating that the Sunwolves are improving but, despite all of their running and passing flair, what the competition really needs is for them to grind out a 12-9 win, and demonstrate that their defence is up to this level.

    Taqele Naiyarovo was a man amongst boys, although his laconic swipe at an ankle, in concert with Kurtley Beale’s turnstile impression, for Kazuki Himeno’s try was a black mark. It took some gracious selfie-taking with home fans after the match to restore his reputation.

    The Blues were looking to up their defensive effort and, despite suffering another loss, this was a much-needed display against the Chiefs, with a noticeable improvement in the number of players hustling to be involved in the second line of defence.

    They also took another lesson from their heavy loss to the Sharks, taking points as they were offered, keeping them in the lead for most of a match nobody expected them to win.

    But while the Chiefs lacked clinical precision they held an edge in class and combinations, enough to eventually convert their 2nd half territorial advantage to enough points to squeak home 21-19.

    The Reds were on track early to double down this season against the Brumbies, who eventually found their catalyst in Tom Banks – his strong, energetic running showing the way forward for the home side, particularly Isa Naisarani who picked up a well deserved double.

    Reds fans will be concerned at how meekly they faded out of the match, which seemed to correspond with Taniela Tupou picking up an arm injury and losing his effectiveness – a curious case of non-replacement. They were also done no favours by referee Ben O’Keefe, whose too hasty knock-on call denied Samu Kerevi a fair try – Kerevi again stamping himself as the form centre in the race for starting spots for the Wallabies June series against Ireland.

    Last year in round seven the Brumbies thrashed the Reds 43-10 in a sparkling display but reverted back into their shell in subsequent weeks. With a 45-21 scalp this time around the Brumbies’ challenge is to show that they can now go on with the job.

    Congratulations too to debut ABC match caller Brett McKay, who made a very difficult job sound easy. For any listeners wondering why the radio call was over a minute behind the TV, no it wasn’t because Brett was that far behind play, or required a lengthy buffer in case of bad language. Obviously Canberra has just gone onto the NBN.

    Blake Enever

    (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

    It took 20 year-old Lions winger, Madosh Tambwe just 55 seconds to score against the Stormers, and only another 11 minutes to add two more tries, as the Lions went out to an early lead that they never looked like surrendering. Tambwe would add a fourth in the 51st minute before taking an early mark – a day this fleet-of-foot young man won’t be forgetting any time soon.

    With the benefit of playing under referee Jaco Peyper in successive weeks, the Lions happily (and shrewdly) conceded possession to the Stormers, knowing exactly how Peyper would allow Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith to compete at the breakdown.

    36 per cent possession for 8 tries, versus 64 per cent for three tries tells a heck of a story, fly-half Elton Jantjies providing the spark from turnover ball, with the Lions once again looking like the 2016 and 2017 versions as a result. The final score was 52-31, in what was a thoroughly entertaining game.

    As always, the Jaguares were dangerous in possession but lacked finesse against the Crusaders – another side comfortable playing long periods without the ball. Behind throughout, the Jaguares must have felt they were back in the hunt with 15 minutes remaining, 12 points down but pressing hard at the Crusaders line with a dominant scrum.

    But a timely front row refresh saw the Crusaders – from nowhere – destroy the Jaguares scrum, and with it the match, rubbing salt by adding two tries in the two minutes following.

    This was a salutary lesson – as the All Blacks showed last year in France – that you don’t need to push hard in every scrum, just the ones that matter.

    The win capped a successful tour for the Crusaders who leapt to the top of the New Zealand conference as a result, but with sides below them all with games in hand, it’s going to be weeks yet before the full picture emerges.

    Proponents of ‘chaos theory’ might hail that as a good thing. Fans instead look forward to the day when there is a Super Rugby ladder that instantly and accurately represents where each side sits.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit www.geoffparkes.com. Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (289)

    • April 9th 2018 @ 7:55am
      KiwiHaydn said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Thanks again Geoff. As you point out, I couldn’t believe that the Highlanders has another bye this weekend, and what does that mean for the end of the season as the team inevitably tires and injuries take their toll – will they have no byes left? I just want to watch my team compete, and gain some momentum, while I’m sure others (like Blues fans) just want a break!

      • Columnist

        April 9th 2018 @ 8:37am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        Hi KH

        No doubt the task of constructing the fixture is complex and difficult. But some of the inconsistencies are inexplicable.

        To play five matches and have two byes makes no sense – surely it would be possible to give each side a bye in the front half and back half of the competition?

        I’m still a strong believer that the best team wins, regardless of byes or how the finals system works etc… But I also get how stuff like this frustrates fans.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 3:26pm
          cuw said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

          @ Geoff Parkes

          bye is a result of odd number of teams.

          but how it is worked out is as complex as SANZAAAAR like to pretend.

          i think during the easter holiday time 3 teams did not play – WTH ???

          ” The English Premiership table shows us that all 12 sides have played 19 games. No problems there for fans wanting to get a gauge on their teams’ progress. ”

          the coming 3 rounds are gonna be contested like life n death. Only Chiefs are sure of a home finals round. while many others are still fighting for table position.

          last night commentary was saying they cannot remember a top 8 as competitive this year in recent years.

          • Columnist

            April 9th 2018 @ 6:11pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

            “bye is a result of odd number of teams”

            Thanks scoop! 🙂

            Yes the Premiership is a real ding-dong battle. Great for BT Sports and the competition.

            • April 10th 2018 @ 5:52pm
              double agent said | April 10th 2018 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

              Who’s the horse?

      • April 9th 2018 @ 9:07am
        Ed said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        Agree KH, it is silly the Highlanders have had their two byes before the Lions, Stormers and the Saders have had one.
        There are also two rounds where two of the four AUS sides have a bye, yet there is not a round where two NZ sides have the same weekend off.
        Who in Rugby Australia/the Super teams thought it would be a good to have half your sides not playing on two rounds?

        • April 9th 2018 @ 1:47pm
          Joe King said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

          Also, I believe there is a game in NZ every week on Friday and Saturday at the prime time of 7:30pm. Not so in Oz.

          People may need to check this. I only heard it somewhere.

          • April 10th 2018 @ 3:47pm
            double agent said | April 10th 2018 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

            Yes I think twice now there has been no 7:30pm Saturday game. Insanity.

      • April 9th 2018 @ 1:47pm
        Kane said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        Well back in 2015 the Highlanders had a bye in weeks one and eight. They went on to win that year. Could be a sign of things to come.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 2:05pm
          bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

          Sssssh, I’m am easily lead you smooth talker you.

      • April 9th 2018 @ 2:38pm
        Akari said | April 9th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

        It could be to the Landers advantage as Sopoaga misses only one week and then the bulk get their 3rd break during the June test series.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 3:13pm
          bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

          Yea I see your point, it is an advantage with injuries.
          But when the draw was decided, those things are unforeseen.
          For me it’s like the game off if you win the semi-final, great if you have injuries, but the worst possible scenario for momentum and momentum is what they need.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 5:50pm
            Akari said | April 9th 2018 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

            Agreed, bb.

            I especially hate the byes when my tipping is going well for that particular week and the opposite when I’m not doing so well.

    • April 9th 2018 @ 8:20am
      Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      Cheers, Geoff.

      I feel that Kerevi just has to be favourite for the inside centre spot at this rate. I was sitting on about the 22 and the number of times I saw Kerevi rip through defenders, both beating them with power and nimbly stepping past them before always trying to offload was fantastic.

      May I ask you, what do you think of Chance Peni? I was really happy with Dargaville, the bloke has so much heart and put in some huge in defence that I’ve never seen Speight match.

      • Columnist

        April 9th 2018 @ 8:52am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:52am | ! Report

        Kerevi looks a stand-out to me Fionn. I know that sparks a chain reaction debate about what that means for Beale, Folau and Hodge and the shape of the rest of the backline, but he is playing with confidence and offers real presence and purpose in the midfield.

        As for Peni? He looks to me like a confidence player and that he doesn’t quite have it all flowing just yet. He was plainly trying very hard and did some good things but, very similar to Taliauli this season, is prone to making errors. There’s a fair bit of improvement to come in both of them yet.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 9:06am
          Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          Agreed on Kerevi, Geoff. I know CFS is doing well at outside centre, but I think it would be cool to see Perese slot in at 13 when he comes back as good midfield combinations need to play together, and post-2019 I can see Kerevi and Perese being two of our better backs.

          Fair points on Peni. His error when he caught the ball and stepped into touch when under limited pressure, leading to a Reds try, was horrendous. That said, I was really impressed by a few of his breaks in attack (unlucky that he slipped over in the first run of the game). I hope he keeps his spot.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 9:50am
            bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

            Morning Gents
            I certainly agree Kerevi was a standout on the weekend.
            I do like him at this level (SR), but stepping into the international arena in has been in the past a turn style in defence. He has been affective for the Wallabies, but all the good work has been let down by defence. We know he can tackle, but IMO to inconsistent at this stage for consideration.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 10:06am
              Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

              Actually, that is a perception that, while definitely having elements of truth, I think is not entirely representative of reality. His defensive record at outside centre is indeed not great, but it is also overblown (such as him being blamed for everything in Bled 1 last year when he was coming back from injury – Nick Bishop wrote a good article showing that he hadn’t been as bad as we thought).

              His defensive record at inside centre for the Wallabies is actually pretty good. He is certainly a better defender there than Beale.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 10:38am
                bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

                Not being as bad as we thought is not really a glowing report though.
                I do agree that Kerevi is a more rounded 2nd five.
                I do think he could be an awesome center if he focused on the defencive part of his game.
                But the point I was trying to make, is being an attaching weapon last weekend, against a moderate defecive structure enough to be given the front running position for the Wallabies. He has had reasonable season to date though.
                IMO there has been to much of this pick this player because he is great at that, but will need to pick this player to cover what he cant do or we will place this player in this position in defence and this position on attack. Not to say Kerevi is one of those, but we need to be finding and developing players with well rounded abilities. 18 test caps is enough of try and see for me.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 10:40am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:40am | ! Report

                Maybe, but we aren’t comparing him to Crotty or to Nonu. His main competition at 12 is Kurtley Beale who is a turnstile and Hodge, who is currently not playing in the position.

                In fact, to me he lokos like he could be a future Nonu if he is well coached. He is awesome in attack and always looks to offload and put other guys through gaps. He can tackle okay but needs to work on it for sure, and also needs to improve his kicking.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 1:54pm
                Kane said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                Kerevi could be great. Defence can be taught and he shows a willingness for contact.

                Tana Umunga was once dropped from the All Blacks to work on his defence. It obviously worked as he ended his career as practically another 7 on defence.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 11:01am
                bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

                Yes mate, it is possible. Certainly if he worked hard on that part of his game Nonu and Crotty could be compared to him.
                It is really up to him and his mental toughness to realise this should be his focus.
                Probably saying the door shouldn’t be closed, just not wide open. For as long as it is open the incentive is not there to change and improve.
                We could help though and decide is he 2nd five or a center.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 11:07am
                Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

                Agreed, we need to decide on his position. I think it should be 12 for a number of reasons.

                First, Perese played 13 for the U20s and CFS seems to be preferred to Paia’aua at present, meaning there is more competition at 13.

                Second, I think that we should follow the All Black route and have the 12 and not the 13 be the really big centre to give the 10 someone who can straighten the attack and stop it going too lateral, while having the power to force an offload.

                Third, I just think that even though he probably makes more breaks himself at 13, at 12 he just creates so much space for the guys outside of him.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 9:51am
            nutter said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            Not that you asked me but: Peni looked good with ball in hand in attack but didn’t show any real defensive starch. Possibly because Dargaville was on the other wing, much of the easy metres the Reds made were up Peni’s side. Dargaville is a great player. He’s not the fastest or the steppiest but he’s solid with the basics, hits hard in defence and can read the game. Speight’s got the twinkle toes and is happy to contest a breakdown but can have some massive lapses, I hope Dargaville gets some more game time so we can see if he can keep turning up week after week.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 10:07am
              Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:07am | ! Report

              I agree with you that Dargaville looks like our best winger currently. The other wing is less clear.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 10:08am
              bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

              Steppiest…………The word of the day……….Love it

            • April 9th 2018 @ 1:38pm
              Markus said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              Yeah I like Dargaville. He doesn’t have raw size or pace but makes good decisions, minimises errors and has strong defence. I feel like adding another string to his bow, whether it be a good tactical kicking game or something else, would get him more consistent starts and have him seen as more than just dependable.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 10:13pm
              Pavid Docock said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

              James Dargaville has been a terrific utility back since joining the Brumbies from Sydney University and the NRC’s Vikings a few years back. He possesses his skill set and generally rock solid defence probably because he was converted from a back rower to a winger early in his club rugby development.

              Maybe a certain Waratah no. 7 should consider switching to a similar outside back position so that the national side can once again field a balanced backrow 😉

      • April 9th 2018 @ 9:20am
        Markus said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

        Peni and Taliauli seem like they are contesting to fill Speight’s role in the backline. Both show promise in attack, but as well as improving their handling, both really need to get better work rates and defence out of the frames they are working with.

        Until then I think that while they lack the power and outright pace, Dargaville or Muirhead (or possibly Verity-Amm who I have not seen enough of yet) play with more consistency in their game and would bring better balance to a back three than one containing two of Speight/Peni/Taliauli.

        • Columnist

          April 9th 2018 @ 9:56am
          Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          Fair points Markus. Both of those guys are relatively inexperienced at this level and will almost certainly continue to improve.

          The Brumbies have plenty of good players in the outside backs and I’m sure Dan McKellar will be prudent about how he provides opportunities and brings them all forward.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 10:08am
            Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

            Yeah, I think it is currently Dargaville and Bank that have earned their spots, while the rest are competing for the last one.

      • April 9th 2018 @ 1:14pm
        jameswm said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        Peni had a sensational game. I’d never really rated him before.

        Beale can play 15. Who are the contenders there – Folau, Beale, Hodge and DHP? Beale 15, Folau 14, and a Koroibete type on the other wing. 13 becomes a bit of a question mark. Kuridrani or Hodge. See how Hodge does there in the next few weeks.

        Mind you CFS had a sensational game, though he’d be a long way off selection.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 1:21pm
          Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

          You think he was that good? I almost exploded when he caught the ball and stepped into touch, but he is really dangerous with the ball in hand. Really good footwork and balance for such a big and heavy bloke.

          I’d say that Folau and Beale are the front runners for the fullback jersey.

          Maddocks, Banks and Hodge are somewhat left of field candidates.

          I don’t see Hodge starting at outside centre ahead of Kuridrani unless Kuridrani plays really poorly. He has been a bit better the lat couple of weeks and is our best defender there. Rona maybe but I don’t know.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 4:07pm
            duckistani said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

            Sure, play Beale at fullback.

            But where does he come into the line on attack? I think he’s the best playmaker in the team and Kerevi’s the best ball runner. Kerevi can come into 2nd receiver to straighten the attack, but particularly on structured set plays, it makes sense that Beale plays inside Kerevi… a particularly dangerous prospect with Kerevi running off one side of Beale and Folau on the other.

            So essentially the exact system the wallabies currently have with Kerevi playing at outside centre and Beale attacking at 12 and defending at 15 (irrespective of what their jumpers say). To avoid Bled. I catastrophe pick someone (not Speight) who can attack on the wing and defend at 12/13 – Hodge being the most likely.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 4:17pm
              Fionn said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

              Kuridrani was the first choice outside centre last year and Kerevi didn’t make the team until Folau’s sabbatical.

              Kuridrani probably has to be at 13 for purely defensive reasons.

              • April 10th 2018 @ 1:35pm
                ajhreds said | April 10th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                Kerevi cannot defend at 13 and there fore can only be considered a 12

        • Roar Rookie

          April 9th 2018 @ 1:48pm
          piru said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

          Peni had a sensational game. I’d never really rated him before.

          Really?

          I guess it was just us in the west who appreciated him – he tore the Reds apart at NIB last year and is extremely dangerous in space

          Although to be fair he did spend time out with cards and injuries so maybe understandable

    • Roar Guru

      April 9th 2018 @ 8:27am
      Kia Kaha said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      Thanks, Geoff.

      Super rugby is like getting my kids to take a bath. They protest and try to escape but once they’re in the water they don’t want to get out.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am
        Die hard said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        What a brilliant analogy. Each week I have one must watch game and a maybe if I find time. And each week another dozen hours are lost to the cut and thrust of rugby far away.

        The disparate hours actually agree with my convoluted lifestyle. Away conferences make themselves appealing and rugby rules in the end.

        I love the unscripted drama of our sport. Each day I read the roar – cover to cover. So much better than the newspapers

      • Columnist

        April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Great analogy KK!
        It’s a frustratingly flawed competition, but there is always something great happening.

        • Roar Guru

          April 9th 2018 @ 3:20pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

          It’s a frustratingly flawed competition, but there is always something great happening.

          Still, the hardware is there. Just need to update the software.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 5:52pm
            cuw said | April 9th 2018 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

            nope – after a while the hardware becomes incompatible with the latest software.

            or the hardware is too slow to run the new software. 😛

      • Roar Guru

        April 9th 2018 @ 9:05am
        Machooka said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Thanks Kia Kaha… refreshing to hear that some of our unwashed actually get a wash.

        Especially… when it’s in a Crusader’s stronghold! 🙂

        • April 9th 2018 @ 12:07pm
          Muzzo said | April 9th 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          Well Chook the Tah’s did wash away the Sunwolves, & congrats, mate.

      • Roar Guru

        April 9th 2018 @ 10:30am
        Ralph said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        The players continue to deliver magic.

        • Roar Guru

          April 9th 2018 @ 3:27pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

          And that is – in some regards – the most frustrating thing for me, Ralph. There is enough talent and depth – overall – within SANZAAR and Super Rugby to create the most competitive, unpredictable and spectacular rugby tournament in the world (bar Test rugby of course).

          • Roar Guru

            April 9th 2018 @ 3:35pm
            Ralph said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

            To be honest, I just try and enjoy the skills on show.

            I confess it does help to be a long standing Crusaders supporter, everyone loves winning.

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2018 @ 3:49pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

              I do enjoy the skills also.

              The rugby on show in the Kiwi derbies is second to none and I believe if that kind of quality was on display all over the board every week in SR, the competition would be in rude health.

          • Roar Guru

            April 9th 2018 @ 3:59pm
            Ralph said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

            Actually, having just posted and thought a bit more, I can say this.

            I am of the opinion that there is a 98% chance that money will eventually destroy NZ rugby in its current form. Money in professional sport seems to be corrosive like salt, not that you can’t build anything, but it just continually eats away at your structure.

            I can’t begrudge these young guys taking advantage of the money. Many of them come from humble backgrounds and if someone wants to throw a million dollars at them and set their families up for life, good luck to them I say! I want to be happy for them and celebrate their success. But, of course, that big money won’t come from inside NZ, we are less than 1% of world GDP.

            So I watch rugby today in the light of knowing it has been my privilege to live at a time where NZ rugby, at every level, has been played to a standard that history will probably record as the ‘best we ever played’.

            These have been our finest hours.

            We’ve chosen our battles and husband every shell with the clear knowledge our ammunition is limited, knowing one day we’ll reach for an empty ammo box. We’ve planted the flag and we’ve circled the wagons, but I think we know how it ends. I hope we’ll last longer. I know we’ll go down fighting. But in the end it will be bayonets against billionaires.

            So when I think like that I can’t help but be thankful and enjoy every moment. Sure the competitions are flawed, refs need serious help and the constant law changes are frustrating, but it’s all we have and it won’t last.

            It’s like watching a terrific sunset, I want to be there right to the end and remember the best of it once it is gone. And when kids will sit still long enough I’ll talk about magic moments, silky skills and a relentless demand for perfection. And the kids will roll their eyes and say, “Nice story grandpa”.

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2018 @ 4:23pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

              Some rather beautiful and valid points, Ralph. But if I may say, they are pretty selfish also. Noy easy to have that kind of laid back and philosophical approach unless one has seen it all and tasted a lot of sweet victories via the AB’s, Canterbury, and Crusaders.

              I might be too young, naive, or uneducated, but I still believe there is a chance for rugby in the Asia Pacific to be both the strongest and richest in the world. With NZR as the spider in the web.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 4:24pm
              Taylorman said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

              Yes well said. I think Ive seen the best years of both the amateur and pro rugby eras bar the 60’s and if it gets sunk by the mighty dollar then so be it. Oz and SA looked like theyve done their chips and if we go as well I wont be watching anything from the north.

              Ive spent my whole life watching them trip over themselves trying to get parity and now they inch towards by buying everything up. The flow north will stop as we cant produce the same quality of players as funding from local comps disappears and thatll be it. Watch something else.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 4:26pm
              bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

              Ralph, you just have to much time on your hands. Nicely written though.
              For sure IMO a lot of what you say is true. When the money gets involved this must and will change.
              But if a player is a commodity and that commodity needs to sell at its highest potential, then they need a platform to launch from. Yes they could sign early contracts (with limited representative status) or use SR, Mitre 10 or whatever they morph into as their audition. Like all pro sports its the management that will make those decision’s too go or stay. The more the commodity is worth the more the manager makes.

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2018 @ 7:02pm
              Poth Ale said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

              “Money in professional sport seems to be corrosive like salt”

              Ironically enough, salt used to be money, because it was regarded as valuable. Roman soldiers were paid ‘salarium’ meaning ‘salt money’.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 7:17pm
                Sage said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

                Yeah, that’s where Salary comes from

              • Roar Guru

                April 9th 2018 @ 7:20pm
                Poth Ale said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

                Correct.

              • Roar Guru

                April 10th 2018 @ 9:24am
                Ralph said | April 10th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

                Top work Poth Ale.

    • April 9th 2018 @ 8:29am
      bluesfan said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      Whilst everyone loves the Hurricanes – The big threat is the Crusaders, they have now picked up two wins on the road and awaiting major AB reinforcement.

      Come the end of the season with Read, Moody, Franks, Mounga and Dagg all likely available – it would be a brave man to bet against them winning another title.

      B.Barrett can weave his magic all he likes – but his problem will be that his forwards will be getting marched back by the Crusaders and he will have little front foot ball to play with.

      When a team has a bench that potentially contains 3 AB Tight 5 forwards – Barrett, Romano and Perry, they are going to be pretty difficult to dominate physically in the way that the Sharks did to the Blues & Hurricanes.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 9th 2018 @ 8:54am
        Die hard said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Moody’s broken finger might give him an even longer rest now unfortunately

        • Roar Guru

          April 9th 2018 @ 10:33am
          Ralph said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          If we can just get passed this injury run we’ll be a good challenge come the finals. Moody seems like a pretty bad injury (for a finger).

      • Columnist

        April 9th 2018 @ 8:54am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        Good point BF. That’s a fair chunk of talent to return at the business end of the competition.
        And they know how to win – at home or away.

      • April 9th 2018 @ 9:26am
        bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        Couldn’t agree more BF…..

        The bonus points are the one for them. It absolutely shows the importance of not only winning home and away, but having to do it with bonus points. Played the same number of games as the Hurricanes and Chiefs but having lost 2 games to the for mentioned and still be on top of the NZ conference, speaks volumes about where they will become finals and with the depth they created due to their injury list……..Well heads up everyone.

        But there is still hope to the Landers when they get play and catch-up……Possibly December….

      • April 9th 2018 @ 9:44am
        BBA said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Agreed BF, although it was always going to be whether they could hang in, and not lose touch while having so many key players out.

        Not sure is we are going to get them all back until very late in the season (Read, Mo’unga)

        However, in recent times Crusaders have struggled to beat NZ teams away, so if I was opposing them I would really be focused on keeping them out of the top NZ conference.

        Still an awful lot of Kiwi derbies to go.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 10:04am
          bluffboy said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          The next home game for them is the Blues in round 14.
          You would think they will be maintaining they winning way for the next few weeks anyway.
          I see the Cane’s and Chiefs play this week, so one of them is going to hit a bump in the road or a draw that neither would want.

    • April 9th 2018 @ 8:31am
      steve said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      It’s so frustrating for me as a rugby fan that nobody with influence such as journos or ex players are willing to come out strongly and ask hard questions re Super Rugby. It’s an awful competition, makes no sense and so many ‘rugby’ fans take no interest in it. I was at a gala day yesterday on the Northern Rivers, surrounded by people who love rugby and kids who love playing it. Of the 40 or so people I engaged with none and I mean none had watched any super rugby over the weekend and most hadn’t watched a game all year. I have kids I coach (12-13yo) who don’t know who the Waratahs are. I even have rugby obsessed mates who say they now watch more Aviva Premiership than Super rugby now that every game is on fox.

      • Roar Guru

        April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am
        Sam Taulelei said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Interesting that the different timezone offers no impediment to following the Aviva premiership competition.

        I make this observation on the basis that one of the criticisms about Super rugby from Australian fans is that they don’t want to stay up past midnight to watch their teams live, on the road in SA.

        Or were those Aviva fans expat Brits?

        • April 9th 2018 @ 9:23am
          steve said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

          They replay them in the morning

        • April 9th 2018 @ 9:35am
          lesterlike said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

          I switched to the Top 14, Aviva Premiership and the old Heineken Cup years ago over Super Rugby once i realised it was on Eurosports and the old Setanta channel.

          I didn’t care it was in the middle of the night, i already watched or recorded Soccer games at that time and I found the European game far more engaging as they had a simple league and cup that made it easy for casual fans to watch as well as each league featuring real clubs with authentic rivalries and not a assortment of fake SAANZAR franchises invented by a boardroom of suits.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 6:11pm
            Akari said | April 9th 2018 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

            Until this year, I found watching NH rugby (including 6N) tough as it was like watching grass grow. Painfully tedious and hard to stay awake or maintain any interest in. I however enjoyed the 6N this year and the club rugby as well.

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2018 @ 7:53pm
              Poth Ale said | April 9th 2018 @ 7:53pm | ! Report

              Why did you watch this year, Atari? And which club rugby did you watch?

      • Columnist

        April 9th 2018 @ 9:13am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        steve it’s very fashionable to blame Rugby Australia and SANZAAR for every rugby problem in Australia.

        To suggest that Super Rugby is the reason that rugby playing kids don’t know who the Waratahs are masks other, deep rooted problems. The Waratahs have been around for over 140 years, obviously long before Super Rugby.

        It is true that RA and the state unions have failed to connect with fans since the game became professional, and a divide between the grass roots and professional games has emerged. And SANZAAR has little idea (and resources?) about how to market Super Rugby to the potential fan base.

        National and state administrators are challenged with finding a way to better connect all rugby fans to the rugby pathway of junior, schools, club, NRC, Super Rugby, Wallabies. But for this to happen, two things are needed;

        1. parochialism and self-interest among the administrative bodies must take a back seat

        2. more club rugby people should be more open minded about supporting their NRC and SR side, instead of pursuing a fashionable anti-establishment agenda. As Sam points out, your final observation is a prime example of this.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 9:32am
          steve said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

          Totally agree re your marketing point. Firstly, adminstrators in this part of the world focus far too much on the national team. Secondly I feel as though they have an attitude that they almost don’t want your AFL, NRL obsessed style of fan, as if it’s not (hard to explain) the way a person should behave. It’s concerning that the northern hemisphere seem so much more progressive in this area. Maybe we do need to private owners to really shake the system and the administrators up.

          • Columnist

            April 9th 2018 @ 10:05am
            Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

            I’m not sure that the NH is more progressive in this area steve, it’s more that they have some important natural advantages – most notably a far higher population living in close proximity, in the same time zone.

            Then there are more specific factors such as the parochial culture of rugby fans in the south of France – it would be pretty easy to market to that audience compared to the complexities that Australian and NZ administrators face.

            A move to either an independent commission or true private ownership would almost certainly result in a better Super Rugby competition. But it wouldn’t necessarily improve the connection to grass roots rugby, and it’s a moot point anyway because the national unions see this as too big a risk to their revenue bases, and there is very little chance of this happening.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 11:03am
              steve said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

              And that is the exact problem. They are lazy administrators. We all know that at the moment Test rugby brings in the dollars for Aus and NZ rugby so, they say things have to stay the same, yet then they say they can’t increase revenue to compete with the North. Test rugby can’t get any bigger, surely they realise they’ve milked it dry. The only way they can increase revenue is by making franchise/club rugby more popular. Something that engages rugby fans for 25 weeks of the year

              • Columnist

                April 9th 2018 @ 12:18pm
                Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                No question steve, hubris set in after the 1999 RWC win, 2001 Lions series win and successful hosting of the 2003 RWC, when all eggs went into the Wallabies basket.

                I’m kinder than you in suggesting that many of today’s administrators know what is required to reconnect all parts of the game together and are working for this. But the global rugby situation has changed, money and power is now concentrated in England and France, which impacts on what happens here, and what has been undone is proving very difficult to put back together.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 12:55pm
                steve said | April 9th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                So is the football market yet competitions exist outside those boundaries.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 4:04pm
            Malo said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

            They ra hate fans, they are a nuisance.

        • April 9th 2018 @ 10:57am
          sheek said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:57am | ! Report

          Geoff,

          We collectively bemoan the problems of Australian rugby pretty much weekly.

          Alan Jones wrote yet another brilliant piece in The Weekend Australian. All his recent articles have been spot on, even if they have carried various minor inaccuracies, the overall themes have been brutally accurate.

          I posted his latest article on facebook, where I have many rugby loving mates. Response? About two only who could be bothered to give a ‘like’. Australian rugby is so on the nose, people can’t be bothered to even discuss it anymore.

          I have no charity anymore. I hope super rugby continues to tank until something better replaces it. What exactly, I’ve run out of ideas myself, although you only have to look at AFL, NRL & A-League for clues.

          If WR refuses to put in place any restraint inhibitors to English & French clubs scouring southern hemisphere countries for talent, then that’s what we’ll end up with – a European-centric club competition without test rugby.

          i don’t buy the argument that WR & the various governing bodies are powerless to do anything. It’s really a case of just being too gutless to act.

          Yeah, I get the argument that rugby is still rugby, & watching any rugby is better than watching no rugby. But I won’t watch just anything. I want some purpose to my sport.

          Players continue to walk. Not only are senior players leaving Australian rugby for Europe & Japan, but soon to be school leavers are signing up with NRL clubs or even preferring NPC clubs.

          Meanwhile, preening, self-important administrators in Australia continue to fiddle & fumble.

          • Columnist

            April 9th 2018 @ 11:12am
            Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

            Not sure what rugby can take from those other sports that is relevant Sheek.

            AFL is domestic. They are not exposed to the complexities and existential threats from elsewhere in the world
            NRL is mostly domestic and to keep it strong it’s administrators actively work against the growth of the game internationally
            A-League has a multitude of problems, discussed in these pages almost daily. If that’s the level for rugby to aspire to the bar is being set way too low.

            • April 9th 2018 @ 12:05pm
              sheek said | April 9th 2018 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

              Geoff,

              I’ve made this point before: what AFL, NRL & A-League give their fans, is a domestic comp, made up of Aussie teams with mostly Aussie players, playing at Aussie stadiums in front of Aussie fans in time friendly zones.

              That’s what AFL, NRL & A-League offer their fans at the domestic level, & I get the feeling that that’s what a majority of rugby fans would like also.

              We can still have a super rugby component, but at an abridged output, like a Champion’s Cup.

              Let’s not be seduced by the international reach of a sport. AFL fans don’t care one iota their game is barely played anywhere else. And NRL fans don’t care their game is only prominent in four countries.

              It’s the local content, how the sport caters to domestic fans. That’s what matters.

              • April 9th 2018 @ 12:11pm
                sheek said | April 9th 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

                Geoff,

                Sure, you can say the bar is set low as each sport has its problems. But they cater to their domestic product far, far better than rugby union.

                Anyway, if at some point in the future, union & league merged for whatever reasons, it would be bitter sweet for both codes in Australia.

                Although the game being played might more closely resemble union, the iconic teams would mostly be ex-league, probably 15-16 out of a 20 team national comp.

                And initially, ex-league players would dominate rep teams, especially in the backs.

                We shouldn’t be so smug rugby has the greater international game. It doesn’t rate for much at a domestic level.

              • Roar Guru

                April 10th 2018 @ 8:26am
                Train Without A Station said | April 10th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

                There’s more Australian football fans who don’t watch the A-League than do watch it.

                In fact there’s more Australian Rugby fans that watch Super Rugby than watch the A-League.

                How are they “giving the fans what they want”?

          • Roar Guru

            April 9th 2018 @ 11:32am
            Machooka said | April 9th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

            ‘I want some purpose to my sport.’

            Is this a line, from a page, drafted by the ‘Philosophical Dept.’ of the Uni of Woolloomooloo Bruce?

            • Roar Rookie

              April 10th 2018 @ 4:53pm
              piru said | April 10th 2018 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

              Just poorly translated from some Sunwolves fans, disgruntled about the poor food choices at the stadium

              What they actually said was they want some porpoise with their sport,

        • April 9th 2018 @ 2:26pm
          Joe King said | April 9th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

          Hey Geoff, I think those two factors play a part, but I don’t think they are the main reason, judging by the hundreds of comments I’ve read from Australian fans on the Roar and elsewhere.

          Your first factor was still there when SR first started and was going great-guns.

          I think the thing that has changed is that the novelty of playing international teams (originally the great traditional provincial teams from SA and NZ) has worn off for most Australian fans. That, and the fact that SR just isn’t as accessible as other sports.

          Whether for good or bad, most Australian fans prefer a more accessible domestic product. SR can’t deliver this. Rectifying those two factors you have suggested won’t go a long way to changing this unfortunately.

          Just from what I’ve read, I think for most (though, not all) Aussies, the international component is good when it is much more of a novelty rather than for the whole regular season.

          I realise that SR might be as good as it gets for rugby in Oz for other (financial) reasons, but I feel that SANZAAR missed the boat by not having 3 distinct conferences of 6 teams each, that were closed for the regular season, with no cross-conference games until the finals.

          Yes, the NZRU has good reasons for not wanting this, and it would have decreased revenue, but this would have masked the lack of depth in the Oz conference with only the best of each conference meeting in the finals, gone a long way to satisfying the domestic appetite from Australian fans, drastically reduced travel costs, and provided many more time-zone friendly games at prime time viewing for the big 3 countries.

          Keeping the international component for the finals only, also keeps it novel and interesting – our best v your best, etc.

          • Columnist

            April 9th 2018 @ 4:18pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

            Hi Joe

            Yes I agree that the novelty wearing off is a real factor.
            And also that Australian rugby and the ‘average’ Australian rugby fan doesn’t have the same depth of understanding of and affiliation with South African rugby as for NZ.

            It’s also true that if different decisions had been made at the time, we’d probably looking at a better situation. But now that the professional cat is well out of the bag, it’s simply not an option to rewind back to those days – the French and English clubs have changed the landscape.

            • April 10th 2018 @ 11:09am
              Ed said | April 10th 2018 @ 11:09am | ! Report

              Geoff,

              Is some of this apathy towards the overseas component of SR related to our declining performance against our foreign competitors?

              AUS SR sides had an overall winning percentage against the NZ sides from the first year up to the end of the 2002 season. Since then we have had at least an overall 50 percent success rate for a season against the kiwis four times – 2004, 2010, 2013 and 2014.
              Currently our overall success rate against the NZ sides is 39.2 percent success rate.

              Our sides had aggregated winning seasons against the RSA teams, bar 2007, for the first 15 years. We have had one winning season, 2014, during our era of five sides.
              It sits overall at 52.7 percent ag the Saffers.

              1996-2005 (three AUS sides) : winning percentage ag NZL teams – 47.8 percent.
              ag RSA sides – 66.9 percent

              2006-2010 (four AUS sides) : ag NZL – 38.2 percent success
              ag RSA – 53.9 percent

              2011-2017 (five AUS sides) : ag NZL – 31.7 percent success
              ag RSA – 38.1 percent

              Are the fans who clamour for a more accessible domestic product prepared to watch an inferior game? How often have we watched a NZ derby followed by an Australian one and thought they were are completely different levels? If our sides are kept from playing the NZ teams until a Champions League final system, in the current climate it would be ugly.

              When the 2018 draw was released, there were two home matches I told my wife I was definitely going to: the Canes and the Saders. I don’t get many passes, hence I want to watch the best in action and if the opponents are not Australian, so be it.

              I guess part of it comes down to if you are an Australian who is a fan of rugby, or a fan of Australian rugby.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 5:19pm
            sheek said | April 9th 2018 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

            Yes Joe,

            I agree with this. The novelty factor of playing Kiwi & Saffie teams is wearing off. So much fun in the beginning. So ho-hum now.

          • Roar Guru

            April 9th 2018 @ 6:02pm
            Kashmir Pete said | April 9th 2018 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

            Hi Joe

            Your comments remind me of how keen I was to see Tahs games way back in last millenium!

            More looking to see wunderkind from Auckand Blue and Natal Sharks and their play, than fussed over who won the game.

            It was all so new then to digest as a rugby fan – long ago now.

            Cheers
            KP

          • Columnist

            April 9th 2018 @ 6:17pm
            Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

            To be fair to SANZAAR, the staleness that had crept into SR was one of the reasons expansion into Argentina and Japan was pursued. So it’s easy to be wise after the event – it’s a very difficult balancing act.

          • Roar Guru

            April 10th 2018 @ 8:27am
            Train Without A Station said | April 10th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

            I think the thing that has changed is that the novelty of playing international teams (originally the great traditional provincial teams from SA and NZ) has worn off for most Australian fans.

            I see that as a huge factor.

            What once was a draw, is now a drain.

            But large competitions are not agile. Change is not quick.

        • Roar Guru

          April 9th 2018 @ 9:40pm
          DaniE said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

          Geoff, I’m wondering about your point no. 2. I was incredibly surprised that the crowd for Saturday’s Brumbies-Reds game was lower than the Brumbies-Sharks. Considering that the Sharks game competed with Skyfire, an arts festival, a Harvest festival with dachshund races and other events, and there was no plethora of competition for the Reds game, was the lower crowd due to round one of the John Dent Cup?

          While no doubt the Brumbies’ recent form hasn’t been attractive, was it also just a bit too difficult for club players and supporters to front up after a the first day of the season? There’s only so much rugby our busy lives can absorb. I wonder if Brett or Fionn can suggest a reason.

          • Columnist

            April 10th 2018 @ 7:53am
            Geoff Parkes said | April 10th 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

            My guess is that it would be a combination of all of those things Dani.
            But it is a concern. And yes, there is too much rugby.

        • Roar Guru

          April 10th 2018 @ 8:24am
          Train Without A Station said | April 10th 2018 @ 8:24am | ! Report

          I think an issue has been that the elite game in amateur times was too connected to the amateur game.

          As a result as the game as tried to move the elite level away, to align more so with NRL and AFL it’s met with huge resistance because it used to be different.

          The poor management of the major (and minor in some cases) state unions and self interest at middle management levels has not helped this either.

          Last year we saw the ludicrous case where some people who had actively campaigned for the Force to be removed, actually criticizing the ARU for removing the Force. Some people just like to complain too.

          • Columnist

            April 10th 2018 @ 9:42am
            Geoff Parkes said | April 10th 2018 @ 9:42am | ! Report

            I think there’s something in that TWAS, as we know people are inherently resistant to change, and the transition into professional rugby has proven unpalatable for many people.

            The pertinent point here though is that the failure of rugby administrators is less one of poor decision making but more one of poor communication and change management. Where they failed to take firstly state and club administrators with them, and then the fans.

            NZ weren’t perfect at this either, but still far more successful than Australia.

            • Roar Guru

              April 10th 2018 @ 9:58am
              Train Without A Station said | April 10th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

              People complain about the divide but it’s ultimately much closer than NRL and AFL. A point I harp on is as an average plodder, I’ve gotten far closer to the professional level, and played with a lot more good players than I think a player of my caliber should have.

              But because of how it was there’s an expectation it should remain that way. But it’s just not the case as sport becomes more professional.

      • April 10th 2018 @ 3:58pm
        double agent said | April 10th 2018 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        You almost had me there Steve till the bit about your mates watching more Aviva than Super!! Nice work!

    • Roar Guru

      April 9th 2018 @ 8:44am
      biltongbek said | April 9th 2018 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      Hi Geoff, I think me and you don’t see eye to eye on Jaco Peyper. It is most definitely not to the Lions benefit to play a match refereed by Jaco Peyper.

      For all the industrious work Marx and Kwagga Smith does at the break, and the work they do is similar to what they did last season, the breakdowns are not being policed by Peyper.

      Not because Marx and Smith get turnovers, but because attacking teams with posession are allowed to seal ball off continuously.

      Peyper has not once demanded first arrivals or hammers behind the ball carrier to reload and get on their feet. Half the breakdowns of the Stormers there was simply no access to the ball for the Lions.

      I was of the opinion that defending teams this season would suffer under the new laws as the tackler or first arriving defending player would have little time to get hands on ball before he was “beaten to the ruck ” by the attacking team, however that is not the reason for defending team struggling to gain turn overd.

      The challenge is to gain access to a ball that is sealed off half the time.

      • Columnist

        April 9th 2018 @ 9:17am
        Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

        That’s a fair point about sealing off BBK, but the fact is there are more turnovers under a few select referees like Peyper and Owens, than there are under other referees who are interpreting the new law more strictly.

        Regardless, even the best pilferers are only going to get a handful in any game – the point is more how a side is geared to react when it happens, and the Lions were superb in how they switched to attack mode and took advantage of the quick possession.

        • Roar Guru

          April 9th 2018 @ 10:42am
          Ralph said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          “how a side is geared to react when it happens”

          Yes, as frustrating as it is this is the key. I still remember back to the 1971 Lion’s tour where one of the colloquial names for the tourists was “The Lie on’s” for the very same sealing off tactics.

      • April 9th 2018 @ 10:42am
        Mzilikazi said | April 9th 2018 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        ” but because attacking teams with posession are allowed to seal ball off continuously.” Spot on, BB. The law is quite clear on this one, and the referees are not penalising when they should….especially players going off their feet, making no attempt to cleanout, but merely lay a body beyond their player on the ground, and make any attempt at a counter ruck impossible.

        • Roar Guru

          April 9th 2018 @ 1:30pm
          biltongbek said | April 9th 2018 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          Exactly MZ, I wonder how it is possible for referees to ignore the bodies on yhe ground, it is almost as if there is a world rugby instruction to just let it go, some teams have adapted to it and others haven’t.

          If it is the intentin for world rugby to let it go then either change the law orr instruct the public in the interpretation.

          • April 9th 2018 @ 3:37pm
            cuw said | April 9th 2018 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

            on the other hand i wonder if the clear release Law is also ignored.

            becoz both times Marx got hands on the ball – i was sure the tackler had held the runner very tight 🙂

            as i said a while back – the new Law is very clear only in 7S !!!

            u shud watch Raynal – he is more strict and so is J P Doyle.

            • Roar Guru

              April 9th 2018 @ 4:51pm
              biltongbek said | April 9th 2018 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

              Cus, the release law is enforced, you just need to look at the number of penalties conceded for it.

              Referees do miss some, but they pemalise that consistently whereas the bellyflops very rarely get penalised, considering how many there are n a match it has become accepted practice which kills the contest for the ball

              • Columnist

                April 9th 2018 @ 6:19pm
                Geoff Parkes said | April 9th 2018 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

                Yes there was definitely one penalty against the Sharks for Marx pilfering as the third man in, doing nothing wrong, but the original tacker hadn’t released the ball carrier.

      • April 10th 2018 @ 3:03pm
        ajgillett said | April 10th 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

        great point.
        I also saw this at the end of the blues vs chiefs game. watch the last few minutes where the chiefs are just trying to hold onto the ball. they continually seal off the ball for about 2mins with no attempt to stay on their feet. was an absolute rubbish end to an entertaining game

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