Is there too much rugby be­ing played?

The Southland Times - - SPORT - SCOTT DON­ALD­SON

OPIN­ION: It used to be a nov­elty to watch a top level game of rugby, but see­ing the empty seats at many Su­per Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup games this sea­son makes you won­der if there are too many games on.

The All Blacks play only three more matches this year than in 1977 but a lot more tests.

The top level sea­son now runs for 10 months rather than seven months, while the in­tro­duc­tion of Su­per Rugby sees top level play­ers in­volved in 15 more reg­u­lar sea­son games and trav­el­ling more than they used to.

1977 - All Blacks six tests, seven tour games and 55 NPC first di­vi­sion games

The All Blacks played only six tests in 1977, but seven fur­ther games on their end-of-year tour to Italy and France, while back then there were also North v South Zone games and All Blacks tri­als.

The All Blacks played four home test matches against the tour­ing Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions.

The NPC was in its sec­ond sea­son, with 11 teams play­ing 10 games each in di­vi­sion one, with a to­tal of 55 games.

The Lions tour be­gan in May, while the All Blacks played their last tour game on Novem­ber 19, in the sec­ond test against France.

1987 - All Blacks seven tests, five tour games and 55 NPC first di­vi­sion games.

The high­light of the 1987 sea­son was the in­au­gu­ral Rugby World Cup vic­tory, which saw the All Blacks win all six test matches.

They also played a test against Aus­tralia and five matches in Ja­pan, in­clud­ing two against Ja­pan.

Two All Blacks tri­als, along with three zone matches with play­ers from the North, South and Cen­tral re­gions were also played.

The NPC com­pe­ti­tion fea­tured 55 games, with 11 teams in the first di­vi­sion play­ing 10 reg­u­lar sea­son games each.

1997 - All Blacks 12 tests and five tour games, 69 Su­per Rugby games and 39 NPC first di­vi­sion games.

In 1997, top level rugby started in Fe­bru­ary, while the end-of-year­tour didn’t fin­ish till De­cem­ber.

The All Blacks played tests against Fiji, Ar­gentina and Aus­tralia, along with the Tri Na­tions tests against Aus­tralia and South Africa.

The end-of-year-tour of Ire­land, Wales and Eng­land fea­tured four tests and five tour games.

Su­per Rugby teams played 11 round robin games fol­lowed by fi­nals.

The nine-team NPC in­volved 36 games play­ing eight games each, fol­lowed by play­offs.

2007 - All Blacks 12 tests, 94 Su­per Rugby games and 77 NPC first di­vi­sion games

The All Blacks played only five tests at the World Cup af­ter their early exit. They also played three do­mes­tic test matches, along with four Tri Na­tions games.

Su­per 14 Rugby saw each team play 13 reg­u­lar sea­son games fol­lowed by the fi­nals, with 94 matches in to­tal.

There were also 77 matches in NPC rugby fea­tur­ing 14 teams, with 10 reg­u­lar sea­son games per team.

2017 - All Blacks 14 tests, two tour games, 142 Su­per Rugby games and 76 NPC rugby games

The All Blacks played three tests against the Lions, along with six Rugby Cham­pi­onship tests, a test against Samoa and will fin­ish their sea­son with a third Bledis­loe Cup match and three end-of-tour tests as part of a five-match tour.

The Su­per Rugby sea­son in­cluded 142 games, with each team play­ing 15 reg­u­lar sea­son games.

The NPC in­cludes 76 matches in­clud­ing 10 reg­u­lar sea­son fix­tures plus play-off games.

Su­per Rugby kicked off in Fe­bru­ary and fin­ished in Au­gust, while the All Blacks will play their last game of the sea­son on Novem­ber 26.

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