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Joe King

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Joined November 2013

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Thanks Brett. Your articles often make me feel relaxed and optimistic. A good read.

What the Australian teams can learn from the Blues and Highlanders

Just because Kiwis are board with SR Ao doesn’t mean Aussies will be board with SR AU. Australians loved it. Predicting future boredom is not a good reason to pull the plug on it. We already know a full season TT is going to be way more problematic for Australian rugby as a whole.

Besides, the Aussie teams were playing each other no more times than old SR in a shorter comp. What’s not to like.

Domestic followed by a shorter TT is much more enjoyable for most Australians judging by this forum. We just have to accept people have different tastes and preferences.

The Wrap: A celebration of Blue, 50 and 18 years on

Captains and coaches always take care to couch such comments so as not to insult or slight Australia, but as genuine as that may be, everyone knows how, for the most part, matches against Australian franchises aren’t as intense or physically taxing.

Or the motive might be that they are afraid the Australians will want to stick with SR AU and not give them what they want.

SR TT would have been fantastic this year if the Australisn teams were competitive. And if that were the case, there would be no reason to change this year’s structure apart from Kiwis being board with SR Ao.

The fact that the Australian teams are not competitive is the reason a full season TT will end up like old SR.

In other words no TT format will work until Australia’s depth and development issues are solved.

An NRC concept will help develop depth, but it is no silver bullet. If it were, then RA should stick with SR AU followed by a short TT.

In any case, if a RA is able to get all 5 Australian teams to match the NZ teams, then that would be one of the greatest comeback victories in rugby history. And that should be acknowledged.

The Wrap: A celebration of Blue, 50 and 18 years on

Thanks JD. What you say makes so much sense.

The Wrap: A celebration of Blue, 50 and 18 years on

In order to keep SR AU and ALSO play NZ teams the same amount of times as a full season TT, simply follow the European model and play SR TT throughout SR AU/Aotearoa on designated weekends.

So play SR TT over 6 rounds (like currently), but with no final. Each team plays all the other teams NOT from their domestic SR comp once, for a first-past-the-post overall winner.

The SR season would look as follows:

Week 1: SR AU/Aotearoa*
Week 2: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 3: SR TT round 1
Week 4: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 5: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 6: SR TT round 2
Week 7: SR TT round 3
Week 8: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 9: SR AU/Aotearoa (week off for all Test players in camp)

Week 10: Anzac Day Bledisloe (week off for all non-Test players)

Week 11: SR TT round 4
Week 12: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 13: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 14: SR TT round 5
Week 15: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 16: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 17: SR TT round 6
Week 18: SR AU/Aotearoa (semi-final)
Week 19: SR AU/Aotearoa (final)

*SR Aotearoa may start the following weekend if NZR decides not to have a semi-final again.

Benefits include:

Every team gets a minimum 8 home games and 8 away games each season!

Australia gets to keep SR AU in full whilst getting continual exposure to the NZ teams throughout. This means Australia is still forced to work hard at increasing the depth and development of its player base. This is a good thing. Until then, however, at least all the SR TT games are not in a row.

NZ have to ‘put-up with’ SR Aotearoa, but there is no longer the concern of increased injuries due to its intensity, or feeling like it’s a bit stale. This format allows the NZ teams to have plenty of ‘breaks’ from playing against each other. And besides, like gold being refined and purified by fire, Super Rugby Aotearoa has refined the New Zealand players and balanced the New Zealand teams to be better than ever! It would be a mistake for NZR to get rid of it.

This format allows for a single Bledisloe Cup game on the Anzac Day weekend. I expect this to become the preeminent Anzac sporting fixture each year.

It’s not a perfect model (no model is), but we’re looking for the best model overall for both New Zealand and Australia.

To TT or not TT, is that the question?

Here’s an alternative way of dicing it following the European model of playing SR TT throughout SR AU/Aotearoa on designated weekends.

In order to keep SR AU and fit within the available window, simply play SR TT over 6 rounds (like currently), but with no final.

Each team still plays all the other teams NOT from their domestic SR comp once, for a first-past-the-post overall winner.

Still exactly the same amount of games against NZ opposition as a full season TT.

The SR season would look as follows:

Week 1: SR AU/Aotearoa*
Week 2: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 3: SR TT round 1
Week 4: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 5: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 6: SR TT round 2
Week 7: SR TT round 3
Week 8: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 9: SR AU/Aotearoa (week off for all Test players in camp)

Week 10: Anzac Day Bledisloe (week off for all non-Test players)

Week 11: SR TT round 4
Week 12: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 13: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 14: SR TT round 5
Week 15: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 16: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 17: SR TT round 6
Week 18: SR AU/Aotearoa (semi-final)
Week 19: SR AU/Aotearoa (final)

*SR Aotearoa may start the following weekend if NZR decides not to have a semi-final again.

Benefits include:

Every team gets a minimum 8 home games and 8 away games each season!

Australia gets to keep SR AU in full whilst getting continual exposure to the NZ teams throughout. This means Australia is still forced to work hard at increasing the depth and development of its player base. This is a good thing. Until then, however, at least all the SR TT games are not in a row.

NZ have to ‘put-up with’ SR Aotearoa, but there is no longer the concern of increased injuries due to its intensity, or feeling like it’s a bit stale. This format allows the NZ teams to have plenty of ‘breaks’ from playing against each other. And besides, like gold being refined and purified by fire, Super Rugby Aotearoa has refined the New Zealand players and balanced the New Zealand teams to be better than ever! It would be a mistake for NZR to get rid of it.

This format allows for a single Bledisloe Cup game on the Anzac Day weekend. I expect this to become the preeminent Anzac sporting fixture each year.

It’s not a perfect model (no model is), but we’re looking for the best model overall for both New Zealand and Australia.

Too little, too late: What we needed to see more of from the Aussies in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

Good article, Brett. I guess however it’s sliced, each Australian team will still only be playing the same amount of games against NZ opposition, right? Just not sure how we can play more TT.

Anyway, would love your thoughts on this model of putting it all together. Also my other alternative in the comments section.

The European model is best for both New Zealand and Australia

Too little, too late: What we needed to see more of from the Aussies in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

The alternative is to play SR TT over 6 rounds, without any divisions, and no final. Each team simply plays all the other teams NOT from their domestic SR comp once, for a first-past-the-post overall winner.

The SR season would look as follows:

Week 1: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 2: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 3: SR TT round 1
Week 4: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 5: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 6: SR TT round 2
Week 7: SR TT round 3
Week 8: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 9: SR AU/Aotearoa (week off for all Test players in camp)

Week 10: Anzac Day Bledisloe Cup (week off for all non-Test players)

Week 11: SR TT round 4
Week 12: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 13: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 14: SR TT round 5
Week 15: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 16: SR AU/Aotearoa
Week 17: SR TT round 6
Week 18: SR AU/Aotearoa (semi-final)
Week 19: SR AU/Aotearoa (final)

In this scenario, every team would get a minimum 8 home games and 8 away games each season.

The European model is best for both New Zealand and Australia

That’s true. All the Kiwis I’ve heard in the media seem to be saying the gap is NOT as big as some think. But then it becomes apparent that they’re only saying it so that they can have a full season TT because they don’t want to be stuck with SR Aotearoa again.

The gap is not as big as New Zealanders like to think

You have to play the best to be the best.

Don’t be fooled by that mantra. It hasn’t worked for Australian rugby for the past 20 years.

Don’t get me wrong, it is true. Australian rugby needs exposure to NZ rugby to improve. But it’s not the whole truth.

I’m not advocating for less Australian teams. That ship has sailed. But it is also possible to be playing against the best and NEVER become the best.

If Australia can’t improve the depth and development of its player base, in 20 years time, we’ll be in the same place as today. Some Aussies will be bemoaning SR, others will be overly optimistic about how the gap is closing, and Kiwis will be reminding both of the actual score, but telling them to keep trying harder anyway because it works for them.

The gap is not as big as New Zealanders like to think

“It means taking the time to provide respectful feedback to administrators about what’s working and what’s not, from your perspective… without a single whinge”.

That’s the key, I think. Well said.

What if Australian rugby’s biggest problem is...us?

Haha, well I enjoyed that. Well done for having a dig back.

Deep down I think Australians really do like their Kiwi cousins. We may have a bit of a laugh when you guys get defensive, but don’t worry, we have so many of our own quirks and foibles.

Oh, and you are pretty good at sport. Respect.

How to fix Australian rugby's Trans-Tasman problem: Part 2

Truly?! I think that might only apply to rugby forums. In my experience in person, it is very different. A bit of banta maybe. But there is a deep affection on both sides. And if it ever came to war, I don’t think there would be any two other nations that would back each other than NZ and Australia.

How to fix Australian rugby's Trans-Tasman problem: Part 2

It needs to be remembered that playing a full season TT would not mean playing any more games against NZ teams than the Australian teams are playing already under the current structure of SR TT following on from SR AU and SR Ao.

So keeping the current structure is hardly hiding under a doona. If anything, it is embracing the challenge.

And if the current format of SR TT does not improve the Australian teams, then a full season TT will less so.

The Wrap: New Zealand sides ruthlessly hunt Super Rugby bonus points

Yes. If RA is to give up SR AU, or reduce it to a single round robin, in order to accommodate a 12 team round robin TT, then this needs to be a condition attached to doing so.

If we’re going to do a full Trans-Tasman tournament, let’s go all the way

Yes, that would definitely make me reconsider my view.
I’d probably think that SR AU must be the main reason behind the renewed confidence and competitiveness, and want to keep it even more. ????

The two lingering questions from an incredible weekend of Super Rugby finals

And in a full season TT, most of those losing fans will always be Australians fans unfortunately, which won’t be good for the game. NZR originally only wanted 2-3 Australian teams because that’s a realistic assessment of Australia’s depth compared to NZ.

The two lingering questions from an incredible weekend of Super Rugby finals

Here’s another often overlooked reason to keep the current format.

The way to think about growing rugby in the competative Australian landscape is not by aiming to steal spectators from the NRL and AFL, as if spectators have to choose one or the other. The aim is to make spectators realise they can enjoy more than their other code. Like having both Netflix and Stan, or enjoying both Test and T20 cricket.

It’s not about rugby aiming to get a bigger share of the pie. It’s about aiming to make people realise they can actually enjoy the whole pie, including the rugby slice. Then, if they like how the rugby slice tastes, they’ll want more.

People will choose to watch Stan or Netflix depending on what’s on offer that night. Rugby needs to be able to offer people a meaningful event-like product more often. Test matches do this by nature, but Super Rugby, especially in Australia, also needs to be able to provide this if it is to be a tasty slice of the pie.

This event-style comp is what made original Super Rugby so tasty in the very beginning before it expanded. SR AU (with 6 teams) followed by SR TT is the best way to achieve this event-style product again.

SR AU is short and sharp. Every game feels competitive, unpredictable, and meaningful. Even when your team is on the bottom of the table, you never feel too far gone to make the finals. Another top-of-the-table clash is never far way. Your team vs the top-of-table is also never far away. And when SR AU is followed by SR TT, it gives you two grand finals in one season. Two peak events, with all the anticipation and intense drama leading up to them.

The same argument can be made for keeping SR Ao in NZ. When SR TT follows on from SR AU and SR Ao, spectators are interested in it because they anticipate the best of one comp going up against the best of another. It’s mysterious and exciting. It’s imperative to keep that aspect in order to keep viewers engaged.

The slight increase in broadcast revenue gained by offering more games with a full season SR TT isn’t worth it in the long run. This is the mistake old SR made. It went for the increase in broadcast revenue and lost the exciting event-like product. And so in the end, it lost the broadcast revenue too.

Just give SR AU a few more years to see what its potential is, please.

The two lingering questions from an incredible weekend of Super Rugby finals

The current format of domestic followed by this type of TT, will give Australian rugby this same ‘feel’ every single year. Imagine that!

But a full season TT may mean we potentially don’t get this ‘feel’ again. Do we really want to risk giving up all that SR AU has done for Australian rugby in only its second season?!

But I agree, SR TT will reveal how much Australian rugby is set to lose by getting rid of SR AU. If SR TT reveals that 2-3 Australian teams will usually hover around the bottom of the table, then after a season or two of a full TT, it will start to feel like old SR again for fans in Australia, and it certainly won’t compel casual spectators to watch rugby the way SR AU is able to.

Yes, someone has to be at the bottom of the table and it will motivate teams to improve, but if Australia really doesn’t have the depth for 5 teams, then one team improving will mean another team struggling. The reason NZR originally only wanted 2-3 Australian teams is because that’s a realistic assessment of our depth.

But I do agree that SR AU has improved the Australian teams confidence and competitiveness, making this year’s SR TT quite exciting.

But don’t be fooled by crowd numbers to SR TT. The main reason SR TT is exciting is because of SR AU and SR Ao. The domestic comp makes the TT mysterious and interesting. My opinion is that combining SR AU and SR Ao with SR TT will make the whole less than the sum of all its parts.

The two lingering questions from an incredible weekend of Super Rugby finals

Australia thanks you for your superiority.

Champions again! Crusaders too good in Super Rugby Aotearoa final

The TT still gives the same litmus test if it is played after SR AU.

Rugby boss talks Super Rugby and why Wallabies series with France is so condensed

Fox, your solution of taking the points from the previous domestic round is exactly what he is suggesting – not extra games.

The problem with Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

I don’t get it Fox, you can see the disadvantage of the conference system for the NZ teams, but you can’t empathise with Reilly’s point.

Personally I don’t see the Reds winning more than two games at the most, but his point is, hypothetically speaking, if one of the Australian teams is potentially the top team, they will have a harder time racking up points and making it to the finals than a Kiwi team. That’s a fair point and is as valid as the unfair conference system.

Sure, I get where you’re coming from. It’s a bit rich for an Aussie to complain about the comp now when they didn’t complain about the conference system. But don’t take that out on Rielly. Maybe he didn’t like the conference system either. Maybe he’s new to this forum. I don’t know. But he doesn’t represent all Australia. He’s just one guy having a say.

What an opportunity for you to show that beautiful spirit that so many Kiwis have, and empathise with his point the way you want him to empathise with the unfair conference system. Otherwise, you’re just doing the same thing as you’re upset about him doing.

The problem with Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

Reilly, I think you raise a valid point and a thoughtful solution.

I’m not personally too phased by it for this year. I think it will be a really good challenge for the Aussie teams and a chance for them to test themselves. And I also think the Kiwi teams had to live with an unfair conference system for a fair while, so this is good for the Aussie teams.

But looking to the future and having a fair competition, some options are better than others.

1. A stand alone single round Robin TT is fair, but doesn’t provide enough home games each year for the teams. From a teams perspective (not the fans, and not necessarily the players) I’m betting they would rather have the consistency of a minimum of 8 home games that a 12-team conference system would give them.

2. A 12-team conference system works for the teams, but is unfair for the stronger NZ conference if they have to play each other twice. This is why the fans don’t like it either. A solution to this is to have mixed conferences based on the previous years standings. So in one conference you have teams ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th from the previous year, and in the other conference, you have teams ranked 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th from the previous year. Play everyone in your own conference twice, and everyone in the other conference once. However, the big problem for any full season TT is that if 2-3 Aussie teams are at the bottom of the table each year, it doesn’t help rugby grow in Australia. It cripples it as a form of entertainment in an environment where NRL/AFL are always in the headlines. This is a key point to grasp and empathise with. Australian rugby does not have the luxury of being a national sport. Australian rugby is in a rebuilding phase, and SR AU has given Australian rugby a new lease of life and has the game going in the right direction again. This is indirectly good for NZ rugby as well. My own opinion is that Australia needs a few more years of SR AU before they are ready for a full season TT.

3. For those of us who love SR AU/Ao and a TT, simply keep the same structure as this year. However, the problem is what you raised in your article for the TT comp. The top Aussie team is going to have a harder time racking up points and reaching the final than a Kiwi team. I personally don’t mind this, but I think you’re right from a competition perspective. And your solution is a good one: teams keep their points from the second round of their SR SU and SR Ao respectively for the TT. That would be as fair as a single round robin TT. However, another problem for the current set-up comes from some (many?) Kiwi players who say it’s not easy on their bodies playing tough Kiwi teams every week, and would rather have a full season TT competition to have some easier games in the mix. While I think the idea of “easier games” is a key reason to keep SR AU/Ao, and not have a full season TT, I can see their point about the physical impact on the body. And I empathise with AB fans who don’t want injuries to affect the ABs.

The only other solution I can think of is for SR AU and SR Ao to be shortened to a single round robin competition. Then have a single round robin TT competition following on from it. That would still give a minimum 8 home games per season, still provide at least some form of domestic comp to whet the appetite before the TT comp, and be physically easier/less injuries for most Kiwi players.

However, with finals in both competitions, would the top teams potentially end up playing each other too many times in a season? Maybe. But maybe it would also make for a classic crowd-pleasing year if that potentially happened! While, I personally don’t think this option would be as good for rugby in Australia as a home and away SR AU, it might be the best option overall for both NZ and Oz.

The problem with Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

Yep, that’s the way I’m taking it and it seems a lit of people are. However, he does raise a valid point.

The problem with Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

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