Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Short straw for Super Rugby

16 comments
Sam Cane of the Chiefs makes a break during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Bulls at Waikato Stadium. Photo / Getty Images
Sam Cane of the Chiefs makes a break during the round eight Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Bulls at Waikato Stadium. Photo / Getty Images

Sevens in Wellington and Nines this weekend at Eden Park.

The winter codes are emulating their summer brethren who have poured bastardised versions of the real game into the cricket calendar.

In rugby who suffers? Super Rugby of course, the tournament which is supposed to hold our attention from the February 26 kickoff through its June recess until the winner is decided on August 6.

This year, the 21st since the tournament dipped its toes into the professional world, the series will undergo its fourth change of format in an expanded 18-team tournament with four conferences divided into two groups.

The original Super 12 lasted for a decade before organisers bumped it up to the Super 14 for a five-year spell then switched it to the conference-based Super 15 series for another five-year gig.

Now we're asked to get our heads around another revamp although it's not a priority as a handful of players have been diverted to use their skills at Sevens as they target gold at Rio.

The Ioane brothers, Ben Lam, Augustine Pulu, Sonny Bill Williams, Liam Messam and Ardie Savea have been asked/encouraged/persuaded to give Sevens a crack.

That will limit their Super Rugby involvement and if those players make the cut for Rio it will have an impact on their All Black involvement for the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand Rugby has decided an Olympic Sevens campaign takes precedence ahead of All Black test rugby and its Super Rugby offshoot.

The glint of a possible gold has affected the NZR focus while rugby supporters are left to try to understand what to make of the multi-headed revamped competition.

Four changes in the small lifespan of Super Rugby. That's one of the reasons significant crowds are reluctant to attend matches until deep in the season when they have got a better handle on what's happening.

As World Rugby contemplates how to make rugby easier to understand, it seems Southern Hemisphere organisers have taken another tack.

Only last week New Zealand coaches discovered there was a late change to the bonus points system for tries in this year's series.

We've got new sides from South Africa, Argentina and Japan while New Zealand franchises will play home and away matches against two of the four teams in their conference. They will also play each team in the Australian conference and each team from a conference in the other group.

Confused? Don't blame you. So that's probably why the competition starts at the end of this month to give everyone time to digest the way the series works before competition interruptus in June as the All Blacks host Wales for three tests.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
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

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 08 Dec 2016 21:10:12 Processing Time: 538ms