All is calm, all is quiet. It sure is. Cities are a delight at this time of year. You can scoot from A to B unimpeded, like it is 1973.

Time to break the calm and cue the Jaws movie music though, because there is a monster on the sports horizon, and it's called Super Rugby.

Yes, I've had to leap frog over tantalising cricket and other events like the Australian Open tennis tournament to get to this. But it's not far away, either, and given rugby's scary dominance this is THE most important issue in our sport.

So here's my plea to the Rugby Kremlin in Wellington - please Mister, can we have our game back?


Yes, a second consecutive World Cup triumph appears to show that all is well in Rugby Land, but it ain't. And the problem is most evident in Super Rugby, which is a sham and a serious turnoff.

I hope the expanded Super Rugby competition is a disaster, forcing central control in Wellington and its overseas mates to think again. It is a contrivance and already the worst professional sports competition in the world, of mad travel, too many teams we don't care about, and in New Zealand's case selections that are manipulated from above.

Yes, the All Blacks are an amazing outfit, and two consecutive World Cups is an impressive haul. But New Zealand has rorted the accepted norm, turning over the game to the All Blacks and destroying the authenticity of what should be an awesome Super competition. National teams are supposed to represent a sport, not beat it up.

The wonderful days of provincial rugby and then Super Rugby's first few seasons are gone but it doesn't have to be that way. The All Blacks should not be the be all and end all, as they have become.

In other words, it's time to return to the basics, to let the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders run their own squads, without the All Blacks deciding when players join, and how many games they play. We need genuine rivalry, tribalism, individuality, character and stuff that isn't prescribed and controlled by head office. And we don't need the Japanese Sunwolves.

Rugby pulls our chain a lot of the time, blathering on about tired players while pinning its flags all over the world.

Yes, the situation is more complex than there is space for here. But the basics of how to run professional sports competitions are simple. Play it like you mean it, from go to whoa, with backyard rivalries to the forefront. And don't treat your public like fools.

Rugby is playing with fire, too, because the All Blacks will not always dominate the way a remarkable generation of players has suggested they can. And there are plenty of sporting alternatives, including from overseas via the internet?


Rugby has had its grandiose fun, turned everything upside down, won their World Cups. Now give us back the game.