Something doesn't add up at the Blues. No let's be more specific, little makes sense at the Blues as they contemplate the merciful end to another tarnished season.

They've hired Leon MacDonald from next year on a three-season deal, Tom Coventry is pushing into the frame as the new forwards coach to replace Steve Jackson next season while skills coach Dave Ellis and defence coach Alistair Rogers are moving on. Quite where the mental skills coach features in the set-up is as mysterious as that coaching shuffle which keeps the under-performing Tana Umaga at the head of the group.

He's not made any visible impact in three years but has claimed a contract extension while others have been cut adrift.


The terms of the extension mean the Blues have to make the playoffs next year and probably the semifinals if Umaga wants to keep his job.

Three years should have been enough evidence.

If MacDonald and Coventry somehow generate progress and the Blues go deep in the competition there is an implication Umaga will benefit.

Before chairman of the board Tony Carter decided to shift on because he believes someone with more rugby nous needs to guide the franchise he should have implored his group to wipe the slate for next season. That approach should also have generated extra heat on chief executive Michael Redman who stays in his role.

If the current wisdom is that MacDonald and Coventry represent the best recipe for the Blues to move into a competitive mode in Super Rugby then they should have been given that responsibility rather than as attachments to the Umaga programme.

The problems have festered for the last three years and MacDonald and Coventry should have the freedom to pick their own crew in a bid to solve the Blues' dysfunction.

That pair may struggle as many qualified men have before them and there is a curiosity about MacDonald not so long ago turning down overtures to link up with the Crusaders.

There was an odd yes-no response then an explanation he did not want to uproot his family from Nelson yet now he's shifting to a big city where his knowledge of the players and the environs will be less.


Coventry got his Super Rugby education alongside Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith in four seasons with the Chiefs including their winning campaigns of 2012-13, struggled in a shift to London Irish but has since found some success with North Harbour and will have a handle on the forward talent across the region.

Since the 2011 World Cup, every New Zealand franchise has changed coaches and done better than the Blues. In the seven seasons since that triumph, the Blues' best finish is 9th. Dwell on that.

One finish inside the top 10 and no hope of adding to that when they close their campaign tonight in Christchurch.

Sanzaar is searching for answers to reinvigorate their troubled competition and if the best concept is a round-robin tournament with a reduced number of teams, the Blues' results offer an idea.

Two teams were cut from South Africa last time and one from Australia so is it the Blues' turn for the chop.

Quality players could be integrated into stronger squads with two franchises in each island and a greater emphasis on performance across the tournament.