NZ Rugby World
WIDER ISSUES TO THINK ABOUT
1 : BOOM TIMES
Super Rugby went into the lockdown with hardly anyone caring or watching. It came out, as just a domestic competition and Eden Park was full.
And crowds stayed healthy for the remainder of the competition. Was that simply the Covid effect – a case of people getting back out after being locked up for so long or is this new format genuinely one that carries deep appeal?
The whole business of playing the same teams again and again had novelty value last year, but will it still be so popular in 2021? And will it carry the same intensity if the stadiums are mostly empty?
2 : POLICING THE OFFSIDE LINE?
The revamped competition had such good intentions around the offside line when it resumed in June last year. We were told that referees were going to be tough on teams who were offside: penalise defensive lines for not being behind the backfoot.
Refs jumped on teams at the start of the competition but soon gave up. Just as they eased off penalising players for entering rucks incorrectly.
It would be good to see a tough stance taken on the offside line at least as teams creeping forwards and illegally killing the space is the scourge of the game.
3 : RETAINING THE BIG THREE
Interestingly the three players short-listed for the Kel Tremain trophy in 2020 were Sam Cane, Aaron Smith and Dane Coles. Interesting because none of them are contracted beyond this year.
Retaining all three is important and is a piece of work New Zealand Rugby will hope to complete sooner rather than later. Cane should be a formality – he clearly wants to stay and captain the team through to the next World Cup.
Smith wants to win his 100th cap, but what he wants after that…who knows? He’s hinted before that an overseas stint is not for him but NZR will need to throw a fair bit of cash at him to keep him until 2023.
As for Coles, he’s 34, but in great form. He might look to extend by one year and then another if he’s feeling he can still make an impact.