I think I am falling out of love with Super Rugby. It is a fickle lover and I'm afraid I have given it enough chances.

On several occasions throughout the weekend I heard people noting their surprise that the 2019 Super Rugby Season had started. It had crept up on them like that friend's birthday which you still haven't bought a present for.

It makes you wonder; in a Rugby World Cup year during which Super Rugby will serve as a valuable measure of which players deserve places in their national sides, where was the hype? Where was the excitement? This is our national sport after all, but every year I find myself less interested.

I have no doubt there were people who were excited, people who watched every game and loved every minute. I was not one of them.


To me, there are several issues. I understand that having more teams from more countries helps market the game globally, but it has diluted the product.

The Crusaders will probably win, as they have done the last two years. If not them, it will probably be another Kiwi team, as it has been six out of the last seven years.

The only games I really find enjoyable to watch are when two New Zealand sides play each other, but as more teams are added to the competition this happens less often.

Another issue is, as the competition has grown, it has become overly-complicated. There are three conference winners who make playoffs and then five wild card positions, which go to the best performing teams from any conference. I'm sure there is a method to the madness, but surely when attempting to attract the average sports fan in an age when their sports-viewing options are endless, simplicity would be better?

Running a competition like Super Rugby must be a hell of a balancing act. You want to make money, attract fans from as far and wide as possible, grow the game but also have genuine competition.

It is far from a lost cause, I'm sure as we get further into the competition, and closer to the World Cup, things will heat up. I certainly hope so. And I hope in future years, we have a better balance of entertainment versus growth.

The weekend also included our first NRL action of the year with the New Zealand Māori Kiwis taking on the Indigenous All Stars in Melbourne.

The New Zealand Maori Kiwis perform a haka before the NRL exhibition match against the Indigenous All Stars in Melbourne. Photo / Getty Images
The New Zealand Maori Kiwis perform a haka before the NRL exhibition match against the Indigenous All Stars in Melbourne. Photo / Getty Images

It was nothing more than a pre-season exhibition match, the season doesn't properly start for another three weeks, but it was hyped up and in terms of entertainment, did not disappoint.


In the build-up there were countless interviews and videos with players from both camps enthusiastically talking about how excited they were to play a game where they could represent their culture.

On the field the haka set the scene, and the talent on display during the 80 minutes was unparalleled - some of the competition's best players went head-to-head.

I find it easier to get excited about the upcoming NRL season than I do Super Rugby, because we genuinely don't know who is going to win.

Yes, there are off field dramas and salary cap issues, but in terms of the competition itself, it is supremely unpredictable.

I have about 10 teams on my shortlist for who might take the NRL title this year. Teams like the Storm and the defending champion Roosters are always strong, but the talent is so widely spread you never know when an upset is coming.

The NRL and Super Rugby both have their own strengths and weaknesses, it is not a balancing act I envy, but I think Super Rugby organisers could learn a bit from their oval ball cousins.