Several decades ago we jaunted off to Palmerston North for the birth of Super Rugby.

The game had donned its new pay for play cloak and everyone was watching how the transition from shamateurism would play out on the field and in the boardrooms of those directing the sport.

Shock horror! The Blues won that opening contest with the Canes and a boisterous crowd of about 13,000 embraced the occasion. It was an exciting chance for rugby to turn some early season interest into a sustained audience.

There was a rough and tumble edge to the tournament as everyone picked their way through the challenges which had emerged in the wake of the 1995 World Cup. All of us learned off the hoof.


This year we enter the 20th season of the tournament and you have to wonder whether rugby has pushed on and used those opening seasons as a springboard for real progress.

Have they really unpicked their Super Rugby tournament, polished each piece and improved their strategies or have the political difficulties impinged on those targets.

Next year that slide continues. When many stars have done their World Cup time and headed for offshore contracts, the tripartite organisation morphs into a four-conference two-group model which is supposed to raise our interest.

Any ideas of refinement have given way to a 2016 model with more teams, more matches, less derbies and a politically correct content so each nation is represented in the playoffs.

Best we enjoy this year while we can. Super Rugby began last night in the Cathedral of Cricket as it looked to butt in on the festival which is primed to start today in the same city.

A programming schedule dovetails the end of that game with the Blues official entry against the Chiefs at North Harbour Stadium.

Grizzles always come from those who live on the other side of the city and would prefer to attend their suburban bottleneck. Eden Park is out of commission because of the Fifty Over Festival and rugby congestion shouldn't be an issue at any venue at this time of the year.

Hesitation about playing at Harbour reflect the increasing levels of agitation about the work of the board with midweek motions deferred until their AGM as ructions continue within and around the union. The atmosphere is bumpy.


A similar path faces the Blues with their programme at Albany or on the road until April 10 when they host the Brumbies at Eden Park. By then we will have a strong line on the future.

They need a showing tonight against the Chiefs which will convince their dwindling faithful to watch or switch channels if there is a conflict of codes down the road.