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Sky TV's Scotty Stevenson on rugby

Scotty Stevenson: All or nothing a winning Bledisloe recipe

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All Blacks should be able to hold on to the prize, but it would be great to have a true down-to-the-wire decider

The closest Australia have come to the Bledisloe Cup lately has been on transtasman Qantas flights. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The closest Australia have come to the Bledisloe Cup lately has been on transtasman Qantas flights. Photo / Mark Mitchell

If you put any stock in history, the Bledisloe Cup will be safely back in the New Zealand Rugby Union's trophy cabinet by 10pm tomorrow, retained by the All Blacks by virtue of winning the Auckland test.

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Yes, regardless of the result in Brisbane later in the year, should the All Blacks do what is expected of them and continue their remarkable record at Eden Park in the second match of the series, the Bledisloe will be theirs, again.

That will please New Zealand fans and will also take a bit of heat off a union that has this year seen a Commonwealth Games sevens title and a Women's Rugby World Cup disappear from the boast sheet, and yet another Junior World Championship elude it.

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But ultimately, if the third test is irrelevant in terms of winning or retaining what the All Blacks believe to be the second most important trophy behind the William Webb Ellis Cup, something has to change with the system.

Look at it this way: in the Rugby Championship - the competition the All Blacks and Wallabies are contesting when the Bledisloe Cup is on the line - points count. That is why last year in Johannesburg, fans were treated to one of the great tests of the modern era as the Springboks and All Blacks left nothing in the tank at the Ellis Park epic.

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Bonus points and point differentials should not be treated as dirty terms. They are legitimate tiebreakers and the reason that final round test last year was so damned good.

Across the Tasman, the rugby powers are trying to make the game more exciting for Australians by introducing some advanced mathematics.

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In the new NRC competition, a conversion is worth three points and penalties are worth two. This is apparently designed to increase a team's attacking focus, though if this was indeed the case, one would assume it would have been easier to make tries count for six points instead.

You have to hand it to our neighbours; they could hype a race around a Bendigo backyard between two three-legged blue heelers, but they needn't have bothered with all this changing points business - just make the title reliant on scoring them.

And let's do the same with the Bledisloe Cup.

If you think this sounds a bit fanciful, consider that Ellis Park test again. Before the match the calculation was simple - the Springboks needed to win the game and score a bonus point while stopping the All Blacks scoring a bonus point.

That's what a title race should come down to. That's how a trophy should be decided - two teams with a goal that guarantees a run at the line.

There will be plenty of traditionalists who will point to the fact that the Bledisloe Cup has always been this way, a contest unsullied by advanced algorithms and the complications of points for and against.

But the Bledisloe Cup has seen its share of change over the years too, especially in the number of tests that constitute the series.

Currently that's three, with every chance the third test will count for zip.

No, what we should all be demanding is a genuine cup decider, something we can reallysink our teeth into.

What we want to see is the All Blacks and the Wallabies lining up in Brisbane with that giant silver beer vessel on a table on the sideline with the series on edge and a scoring permutation hanging over both skippers like impending yellow card trouble.

Tomorrow night at Eden Park, the Wallabies get another chance to put one hand on a trophy that has eluded them for 11 long years. The All Blacks get a chance to make sure it stays that way for a 12th.

It just seems a shame that the equation is so monumentally skewed when there is still one more test to play.

- NZ Herald

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