Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: It's time to stop rugby interruptus of Super 15

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The Lions tour Australia next year - so the Super 15 will be tweaked. Photo / Getty Images
The Lions tour Australia next year - so the Super 15 will be tweaked. Photo / Getty Images

When will Sanzar get it?

The more they mess about with the Super 15 series, the more they illustrate the flaws in their competition.

Everyone set off into the conference system this year, which became an extended trip pockmarked with all sorts of defects.

Forget the inequity where all sides don't play each other and conference winners are guaranteed finals berths.

Any series rising to a climax only to be interrupted by a month of test rugby is flawed. Rugby interruptus should not be encouraged.

Players and officials talk out the side of their mouths about the pitfalls of the elongated format but they are not going to publicly chastise their employment.

But wait - there's more. The Lions tour Australia next year so the Super 15 will be tweaked some more.

It will begin earlier and there will be spinoffs because the Lions hit Australia early in June then play three consecutive tests against the Wallabies late that month and early July, while France tour New Zealand in the blotchy Super 15 hiatus.

If this pattern continues, the Super 15 will be hammered every second season because there are no tours in World Cup years.

Super 15 boss Greg Peters defended the interruptions caused by the Lions "because it's such an important tour".

The Wallabies needed a window for their tests and with the franchises also playing the Lions in 2013, the Super 15 draw would be more complex than a normal year.

Excuse me Mr Peters, how about considering the importance of the Super 15, because we haven't had a normal year since it began.

When the series was introduced last year, it had a truncated finals format because of the World Cup, an interrupted programme this season, and will be messed about even more next year.

Peters admits that with resistance to any earlier start in the year, there aren't enough weeks in the calendar to accommodate the conference and tournament structure.

Either no one is listening, or you're not thumping the table hard enough Mr Peters. Make your imprint, persuade your constituents there has to be a change.

There is evidence only three teams in Australia can foot it in the Super 15 and probably only three in South Africa, even though the Cheetahs were good value in many games, and maybe only four in New Zealand.

Something has to give. Let the Super 15 run its course or trim it to a more concise series - maybe just 10 teams - but don't jigger about with it because 30 players from each country have to play test matches.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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