By WYNNE GRAY
We have all been absorbed by East Coast rugby this season.
It is the stuff of legend, the sort of David and Goliath struggle that most sports watchers relish.
But physically the Coasters look more Goliath, almost as if their second-division bonuses are big nights on the food and turps at the Ruatoria Hotel.
Part of their armoury has been the rolling maul.
Nelson Bays just had no reply to it - and the deadly boot of Mano Flutey - when they met in their semifinal at Ruatoria.
An old-fashioned play but very effective.
Under the rules, referee Lyndon Bray had to penalise Nelson Bays every time they either dragged the maul down or came in from the side to try to halt the juggernaut advance.
But it does seem unfair on defenders, a rule like many others that confuse watchers and participants in rugby.
If you get pinged for accidental offside when you bang into one of your team-mates as you try to surge upfield, where is the logic in allowing someone at the back of a rolling maul to conceal the ball while his team-mates create an impenetrable bow wave in front?
And when you hear a former player such as Glenn Rich talk about his lack of understanding of the modern game, and retiring tight forward Robin Brooke suggest the sport needs an overhaul, you know there are widespread issues that need sorting out.
Also due for renovation are the rules for loan players or the dual-window transfer system that is messing up the tail-end of the NPC.
That is a problem for the New Zealand Rugby Union to sort out, while the rules of the game are the domain of the International Rugby Board.
If the latter's efforts with the fifth World Cup are an example, do not hold your breath about a rewrite of the lawbook or moves towards a simpler game, uniform refereeing interpretations or even a standard rugby ball.
After the first World Cup in New Zealand and Australia in 1987, there was a recommendation to the IRB that the tournament be confined to a single country.
After the 1991 tournament in five countries, the same recommendation was made.
Then, hallelujah, the 1995 World Cup was held in South Africa and without doubt, was the most successful and enjoyable competition.
Not to be messed with, the IRB returned the 1999 tournament to the confusion of multiple countries, and for 2003 has awarded it to Australia and New Zealand.
The mistakes are replicated.
Rugby World Cup Ltd needs to be separated pronto from the IRB and run as a fulltime commercial enterprise.
It must be without the politicking, vote-chasing and then inevitable argument and compromise that flaw its present operations.
Then we could avoid the nonsense and rancour occurring at the moment between Australia and New Zealand.
It will be great for the All Blacks and local rugby followers to have one or maybe two pools (if the NZRFU can cut their costs), quarters and semis this side of the Tasman, but the twin-country staging does dilute the success and interest in a tournament.
Just ask Wales about 1999.
By WYNNE GRAY