13 Sep 2000
The NPC is five rounds old and its looking as good as it always has; better in fact.
Get ready to march on NZRFU headquarters in Wellington should they succumb to market pressures to turn our season upside down for the accomodation of more money-making.
Last week I heard them pouring oil on the waters after SARFU honcho Mr. Oberholzer proclaimed that it was all a done deal.
For those still wishing to know what its all about, the idea seems to be to run the Club and NPC seasons right at the start followed by Super 12 then International rugby. Have a nice orderly ring to it?
The catch is that its mooted that the NPC will then be able to overlap with the Super 12, and hence there will be no professional players in the NPC any more. The advantage (the be-suited organisers of the game will say) is that the pressure on the rugby season is thereby released.
The big disadvantage to New Zealand rugby which they will play down is that the NPC will become a second-rate competition which is simply a feeder for the Super 12. The Ranfurly Shield will also suffer in this case, unless some marketing “genius” decides it should be hi-jacked into the Super 12 somehow.
Here we have the classic dichotomy. The linear right-brain thinkers (accountants, organisers etc.) versus the more holistic left-brain thinkers – those who make assessments which involve a multitude of life-affecting aspects, not just money.
Removing the Super 12 players and All Blacks from the NPC will do far more damage than simply killing the NPC competition, which it will. It will jam a massive divide in between the small elite group of professional rugby players, and the amateur grass roots of the game.
Instead of being able to play alongside these skilled elite, and otherwise learn from and socialise with them, they will be removed from down to earth rugby life and placed in a parallel universe – one which can only be viewed from afar.
If this were to happen it might well look like a fine decision for a few years, however it would kill off that unique strength of New Zealand rugby – its unity throughout all levels of the game from top to bottom.
Let’s stop it from happening!by