Last night, the 2016 rugby season kicked off, just two days after test cricket's summer ended. The shift between the sports now occurs seemlessly and virtually overnight. We could watch Australia wallop us in the cricket on Wednesday before normal rugby service resumed.
This year the Super Rugby season runs until August, with a mid-winter break for tests. Eighteen teams start the endless competition, now in a confusing conference system, with newcomers from Japan and South America spreading the show to four continents. The pre-season hoopla around this expansion has left critics underwhelmed, with many expecting the show to collapse beneath the weight of extravagant expectations.
The Tokyo-based Sunwolves only found a coach in December. In South Africa, the state of the Southern Kings is hardly reassuring. Former All Black Carlos Spencer was involved at the start, but quit along with the coach amid reports of unpaid wages. The other new side, the South American Jaguares, look strong but will spend a lot of time in the air.
Last year when the All Blacks stuttered through Rugby World Cup poll games and New Zealanders grew anxious, coach Steve Hansen urged fans to relax and insisted he had a plan. He did. Perhaps the advice could be adopted for the new Super Rugby season.
For those who love the game, it's time to grab the remote, take a seat, and enjoy the ride. It makes sense to wait and see how rugby's new cake rises. After all, there's six long months ahead.