The new rugby season is only three weeks away and while I am outwardly expressing excitement to impress on those around me my love of the game, inwardly I have a feeling of…Oh God here we go again. Super 14 has become little more than a cash cow for the SANZA unions and worse, a predictable competition where we can say with a fair deal of certainty that the Crusaders will win, the Highlanders will lose the Hurricanes will provide much of the excitement. Get the point. Same show different year.
Growing up in rural North Auckland in the 60’s and 70’s and totally devoted to the Going Morgan rugby philosophy of play the game hard and purely for the love of the game, it is hard to reconcile the excitement and passion one felt in those long gone years with the week in week out bland product provided by the current Super 14 competition. Make no mistake the love of the game still burns strongly in this not so young heart. The All Blacks are still the real deal, notwithstanding our 4 yearly cycle of heartbreak/ depression provided by the Rugby World Cup, the AB’s can still stand up the hair up on the back of one’s neck.
The Air New Zealand Cup has to be retained as a viable competition, a breeding ground for our developing talent and as a competition the rugby loving public can relate to through their local players. One only had to live through the dark, depressing days last winter when the Tanawha were threatened with eternal rugby wilderness to appreciate the passion that is still burning strong within rugby people throughout the country.
It is the Super 14 then that is the problem. The professional era has delivered us a mix and match of teams where loyalty to one’s region is long gone. Players are now making a living out of the game and that’s fine but surely the governing body can provide a more attractive spectacle to ignite public excitement than the current format in Super 14.
Sky Television is offering free instillation for Super 14. Notwithstanding the current economic climate, there is still a reasonable level of public spending on leisure pursuits and it would follow that if the current format was working Sky would be busy with new instillations as they were in the first year of the competition. Free instillation for Super 14 offers an insight into what the wider rugby public feel about the competition, they are over it.
This article is written by Derek Ward. If you would like to submit a quality rugby article for consideration to this site feel free to contact me.