Wynne Gray on sport

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: After the holiday, a heavy load

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All Blacks. Photo / AP
All Blacks. Photo / AP

Just as we are being encouraged to reach a peak of spectator enthusiasm we will be parked on the sidelines. Most of us who follow rugby still have a warm glow about that Sunday night a few weeks ago, and 8-7 still looks and sounds pretty good, especially to those who suffered in Cardiff four years ago.

Then you take a deep breath and see what the oval-ball game offers after we all get a rest from rugby for four months.

We get an elongated Super 15 series which pauses in early June while the All Blacks play three tests against Ireland.

Then the Super 15 has three more rounds before the finals series.

Ireland showed strong qualities in the World Cup and if they repeat that, after a long season in Europe, they will give the new All Black squad a tickle-up.

The problem is series interruptus. It has always been a dangerous habit.

Now Sanzar is promoting the concept.

Just as we are being encouraged to reach a peak of spectator enthusiasm we will be parked on the sidelines and diverted to another spectacle.

It makes you wonder if Gilbert Enoka and the rugby shrinks have been involved in the planning. The format is guaranteed to do some people's heads in.

Next year will be the second year of the revised tournament in which each team will play every side in the other two pools and their "home" opponents twice.

At least they have got that inequity sorted and that adds up to 16 round robin games before the finals begin in late July.

Then we have a Quad Nations international series with the debut of Argentina, the Bledisloe Cup, an ITM Cup shoehorned in and an end-of-year tour to Europe.

We have watched the World Cup finish in October. It was made more thrilling by the country's hosting and tourism uptake and eventual success at Eden Park.

This time next year there will be a month of footy left for the All Blacks. No wonder they need four months away from the game now.

How about cancelling the end-of-year tour and in the spirit of World Cup memorials, substitute a Hemisphere Challenge, north v south, say, at Twickers or Sydney,

Better still cancel the June tests, bring the Super 15 and Quad Nations forward and then have the equators matchup in October.

Big bucks, open it up to new sponsors and television networks.

Who would make the south side on the evidence of the last seven weeks and who would coach them? How about: Israel Dagg, James O'Connor, Jaque Fourie, Ma'a Nonu, Richard Kahui, Daniel Carter, Will Genia, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Victor Matfield, James Horwill, Owen Franks, Bismarck du Plessis, Tony Woodcock. Coach: Graham Henry.

- NZ Herald

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