If transtasman rugby was a combat sport, there probably wouldn't be any need for the referee to step in and wave it off. The bout wouldn't get sanctioned any more.

The Waratahs fell at the feet of the Crusaders at home on Sunday, collapsing under the total weight of so many soft mistakes and missed tackles, and the sad thing is it was not a surprise. Such defeats are now so routine for Australian teams against Kiwi rivals they are expected, and that's the damning reality for Australian rugby.

The statistics spell it out plainly. NSW's loss was the eleventh Aussie defeat from eleven games against New Zealand rivals this year. Another 0-4 trans-Tasman week maintained a zero per cent win record this year and ask yourself honestly: will there be a victory at all in 2017? If so, when?

The bottom New Zealand team has more points than the top Australian team. There is a gulf in class and it is not showing any signs of closing.


Step back a few seasons and the figures grow even more alarming. NSW's loss was the 33rd loss from the last 36 games against New Zealand rivals.

There have been just three - THREE - Australian wins in transtasman encounters since the start of last year.

Remember the Waratahs beating the Crusaders so amazingly in 2014 to win the title? There have been only 10 Australian wins in 59 trans-Tasman games since.

It's depressing stuff and if you want to know why Australian rugby is battling to maintain even its loyal fans, listen up: THREE wins in two years. That's why.

It's even more depressing for the loyalists that many of those defeats could easily have been Aussie wins, but for a lack of smarts and patience.

This year, for example, the Crusaders have beaten the Brumbies by four, the Reds by two after the siren and only led the Waratahs by four with ten minutes left.

The Rebels were level with the Chiefs with six minutes to go but lost, the Highlanders came from behind to beat the Brumbies by five and the Reds were within seven of the Canes on Saturday night with 20 to go.

Does any of that count? Should we be viewing the trans-Tasman rivalry as closer than the figures suggest?

It would be tough to argue in court. It was all just one massive coincidence your honour.
Nope, the defeats keep rolling on and there is no coincidence involved.

Indeed, the big problem that results from three wins in three seasons is that a generation of Australian rugby players has now emerged that have never beaten a New Zealander.

It's a bar-coaster calculation but of the four Aussie squads who played this weekend - and the 23-man Brumbies side last week - over one-third of the 115 have never beaten a Kiwi team in Super Rugby. Another 10 or so just have one win.

They're not all the first-season rookies either. Take Reece Hodge: never beaten a Kiwi in senior rugby.

If you assume there's a fair proportion of Kiwi players with the reverse record - never lost to an Aussie - it doesn't come as a shock that New Zealand teams win the tight moments. All of them.

But losing is a habit hard-kicked. And pervasive.

The Waratahs had senior minds on the job at Allianz Staduim yesterday and when they somehow got back in the fight in the second half via a barnstorming Taqele Naiyaravoro try, the Tahs only trailed by four. It was as close to a Jonah Lomu run as you've seen in Sydney since, well, Jonah last played in Sydney.

But when they pressed the Crusaders line with ten minutes on the clock, the Tahs went short left and short right, again and again. Out on the right wing was Naiyaravoro, raising his hand for another go. The winger he'd run over moments earlier was still there, with knees shaking.

The game was there to be seized.

But Naiyaravoro didn't get the ball, and he would finish the game with three touches; two in his own half.

Instead the Crusaders went the length moments later and scored another. Game over.
Forget four or five teams. The more urgent number for Australian rugby to address is one. One win.