9 Aug

The Super 14: What's Wrong With It?
by Paul Cooper
9 Aug 2001

Maybe people in New Zealand are being a little selfish with their attitude to the expansion of the Super 12 tournament and the impact upon the NPC. The first thing that I would like to say is that I think that expansion is a good thing, providing it is done correctly.

Currently we have the situation of only three teams from Australia, and four from SA. NZ has five as we know. Australia, in my opinion and it is that of John O’Neill and others, that the time has come for us to have a fourth side.

The advantages of this are that it promotes the game in Australia, and makes us more competitive. This would make NZ-Australia tests worth it and produce some good football.

The second thing is the impact on the NPC. Now by adding two extra teams to theS12 this would make for extra games. The number would be 94 which places restrictions on when players would be made available for theirNPC side, as well as other comps played elsewhere in SA & Aust. So some of your NPC teams will miss their top line players.

Big deal.

Won’t this produce or give more players the opportunity to play top classrugby and to develop the talent in NZ? In turn this would make the All Blacks stronger.

In world rugby a strong All Blacks side is needed to promote the game.

Maybe the NPC needs to be reduced to only two divisions if the playing numbers or strength is not there. So it is three divisions. Surely New Zealand rugby needs to seriously think about whether it is becoming too big for its boots and needs some knee capping (harsh but some may see it as reality).

Maybe New Zealand Rugby needs to investigate sending a B team on overseas tours and blooding young players and in the process strengthening the NPC.

If the NPC has a great tradition and history, isn’t it strong enough to avoid falling over when the stars are away? I look at other sporting codes where they play more games, they don’t seem to crying foul over this. Why are you Kiwis any different? Talk about whingeing Poms!

As for the 3N, I agree that it should be played every two years. This would allow Northern Hemisphere teams to come and play against our three countries. This would allow the Lions to tour more often, but I do suppose that touring every 12 years does make it special.

But if the game is to be fair and to prosper then we need to have the likes of Wales, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Canada and the USA touring for extended periods so they get better. The way I see it, in RWC1999 only Australia, NZ, SA and England were realistic chances of winning it. So much for the WORLD part of it.

3N tests now are getting a bit stale. I used to think Australia vs New Zealand (The Bledisloe Cup) was something to be cherished, that it wasn’t played every year, that it was special. But now we play for it each year. Maybe it should be separate from the 3N or maybe played every two years and that way we would keep it for longer. ;)

Overall I think the anti-Super 14 argument is a little biased towards New Zealand benefits. I look at RL and in Australia they play 26 rounds, 3 State of Origins, 4 weeks of semi finals. They play in cities fromMelbourne to Sydney to Brisbane to Townsville to Canberrato Auckland. This represents 4 different temperatures and conditions.

Sure that is too long, but when compared to S12, it makes the anti-Super 14 arguments a mere whinge on your part.

Most sports played throughout the world have long seasons – Soccer being a great example. Injuries are a fact of life.

Would a player like Tony Brown got a look in or been able tostart games,if Mehrtens was not injured? It does present advantages as well as disadvantages.I think the state of the game is good, but we need to get rid of our own petty selfishness and promote the game and the S12/14/16.

If the NPC suffers a little then that is life. Get over it. The NPC is not the be all and end all of the game.

Maybe it has tradition and history, but it is only a game after all.