Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Stay-at-home fans have off button


The advantage of watching rugby on television is that if you are not exhilarated there is always MySky or dinner.

Beauden Barrett was in brilliant form for the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images
Beauden Barrett was in brilliant form for the Hurricanes. Photo / Getty Images

Watching the latest Super Rugby round offered a graph stretching from exhilarating to turgid. The problem was they were successive matches.

It had started so well with the Chiefs showing the best way to beat the Stormers was to use skill and pace to get round them, rather than trying to batter through their core.

Fresh faces have donned the Chiefs' altruistic cloak and suggest they are in for the long haul once more. They knew their business and delivered on a smart plan laid down.

That delight was flattened soon after as the Crusaders graunched through their work in Melbourne.

This match was a perfect example of why crowd numbers are dipping and television numbers are rising.

For most people, subscribing to Sky TV and attending matches is prohibitive and impractical.

A family of four who decide to go to Eden Park for a match, face a minimum payment of $60 for their seats and probably an outlay of about $20 for food and drinks.

Public transport is free but the exercise will cut about five hours out of their night. A basic Sky subscription with access to all sport costs $74 for a month.

Then you can hit the off button, change channel, read a book or entertain instead of sitting through the sort of numbing, stop-start match like that involving the Crusaders.

The complex rules don't help, while mistake-filled sides and the uncertain judgments of referees also frame tedious encounters.

At the opposite end of the showbiz scale was the work of the Hurricanes and Cheetahs as they went through a "you-score, we-score" routine until Willie Le Roux was sent to the sinbin for an innocuous infringement and victory enveloped the Canes.

The gruyere cheese defence from both teams was unprofessional but the individual skill of Beauden Barrett was stunning and a superb reminder of how well New Zealand is served by classy five-eighths even with Daniel Carter in dry dock.

Aaron Cruden was outstanding for the Chiefs in their continued front-running, while newer men such as Liam Squire at No8 and James Lowe on the wing are showing what talent, astute recruitment and coaching can produce.

The Highlanders messed up their two extra men advantages in the final stages and lost the chance of a draw or better. However, the inexperienced group is giving more value than last year's soggy legends.

Erratic production beamed in from Johannesburg as the Blues operated for half a game while South African referee Stuart Berry worked on some new law interpretations.

The Blues were due home last night and only the fittest will survive for what looms as another frothy Saturday night exhibition with the Cheetahs. Anyone for MySky and dinner instead?

- NZ Herald

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Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

The latest commentary and analysis from senior rugby writer Wynne Gray. Wynne has been covering the All Blacks for more than 27 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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