It's the same every year; judgement calls made in February and March.

For the past 13 seasons, another predictable outcome is that the Crusaders will make the playoffs, despite dire predictions in the early rounds. I noted on several forums that a few "fans" were picking that Todd Blackadder would be the first kiwi Super Rugby coach to be sacked mid-season.

While I don't always agree with the former All Black captain's selections, clearly he must have done a few things right to get his team to the top of the New Zealand Conference.

But the haters are gonna hate and there are plenty predicting and still hoping for the Crusaders demise. Fair enough. The Waratahs are the clear title favourites and the cold harsh reality is that while the Crusaders came close in 2011 and in the semi finals last year, they haven't won since 2008.

I'm fascinated by the "sack Blackadder" calls. Sir Graham Henry between 1996 and 1998 is the only other coach with a 100% strike rate for making the playoffs - of course he also picked up a couple of titles.


Many argue that Blackadder has the best players at his disposal. It isn't exactly the shabbiest of rosters. But then Kieran Read and Richie McCaw have barely shared game time and Daniel Carter has only just returned to the fray. The much maligned Colin Slade hasn't gone too badly in his absence.

Title success has justifiably created a rod for the Crusader backs. They are judged by a higher standard. Presumably, if they did fail to make the playoffs, then Blackadder's future would look a little shaky. Sacking a coach that has made the playoffs would set a very dangerous precedent and make the franchise's future look shaky.

What happens when the new coach comes in and fails to make the semi finals - That would make for an interesting debate. Do you sack the newby for failing to do what his predecessors had successfully done for the previous 13 years? The start of a coaching merry-go-round!

Or do you come out with the old: "oh we need to give him time to build his team to put us in contention." But hang on, the last bloke was already doing that.

Even if Blackadder had failed to make the playoffs for the first time, you could mount a fair argument that even then he would deserve another chance. The Hurricanes and Blues have missed the playoffs on 12 occasions, and the Chiefs and Highlanders 14 times.

My maths isn't great, but if we use that logic and sack a coach every time the playoffs are missed, then New Zealand would have required another 52 head coaches! That's just silly. (Of course a few of those coaches did get the flick)

Robbie Deans missed the semis with the Crusaders in 2001. Should he have been sacked? Another four titles to go with the one he grabbed in 2000 indicates that the Crusaders board got it right. Their long term strategies have proven to be solid.

The heat will presumably go off Blackadder when and if he eventually wins a title.

The round robin has been brilliant. Having all the New Zealand sides in contention in the last round shows that all the Kiwi franchises are doing most things right.

The fact that the Crusaders finished top after losing twice to the Hurricanes and once to the Blues underlines the evenness, with both those sides now out of the mix. It's great to see that we still have three teams in with a chance!