Is it time to spice up the Rugby Championship? - Green and Gold Rugby

Is it time to spice up the Rugby Championship?

Is it time to spice up the Rugby Championship?

I have a confession to make:

I’m a bit bored with rugby at the moment.

This time of year, I’m normally consuming every piece of rugby content I can – game highlights, analysis, forums, tweets, facebook comments, you name it. I’m frothing at the mouth about selection for the upcoming week, and making plans to watch the game.

But this season? It’s all a bit ‘meh’. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Another year, another drubbing

Another year, another drubbing

The Rugby Championship, like Super Rugby, is stale. Argentina have now been in the competition since 2012, which makes it all clear to me – we’ve got a bad case of the seven-year itch.

Where things were once fresh and new, now we’re just going through the motions. We’ve slipped into a rut, into tired old routine. Think about it:

We start out with the Bledisloe, where the Kiwis kill off all hope by beating us both home and away. Meanwhile, the Saffers will beat Argentina at home, with nobody really paying attention.

The few remaining Aussie fans will watch South Africa and Australia play out a close but dire encounter in Brisbane (the Mandela Plate is really just the Silver Medal in the Rugby Championship), while the Argies will bring their A game in New Zealand but fade late to lose by 20-30.

It’s a similar story the week after, with South Africa looking good for 30 minutes before being run off the park by the All Blacks, while the Argies fail to produce their best in Australia (again) and go down to the Wallabies.

The script rolls on and on, with the All Blacks game in South Africa the only fixture that holds any real interest – sadly the Rugby Championship title is well in their pocket at that stage.

Hooper claims the Silver Medal

Hooper claims the Silver Medal

I’m a bit over it.

And it seems SANZAAR might finally be over it too, with draw changes being considered as a part of the new broadcast negotiations.

Think of a tournament that kicks off with the All Blacks in South Africa, and the Wallabies in Argentina, that builds to a Bledisloe crescendo. We get to build a bit of momentum, and maybe, just maybe, the All Blacks might struggle in the early stages.

But it needs to go further than that. Like Super Rugby, the draw is just one lever that needs to be pulled to reinvigorate the interests of a tired fanbase.

It might be time to swing for the fences, and introduce a knock-out format of some description.

Maybe we play each team once, before splitting into 1v4 and 2v3, resulting in a winner-take-all final. This could be played at a rotating venue each year, like the Champions League. Or just a one-off final where we play the tournament as usual, before the top two teams battle it out for the title.

There are flaws in that idea, but it’s the type of thinking we need to give this seven-year relationship a shot in the arm.

It’s time to crowdsource this, guys. I’m taking this to the comments section – what could we do to bring a bit of life back to the Rugby Championship?

  • disqus_NMX

    It’s meh, because the Wallabies under Cheika has become meh. Time for a change for sure, a change of coach.

    • Twoilms

      For a million and one reasons the Wallabies wont get any better with a change of coach.

      • disqus_NMX

        There is endless evidence that a good coach can transform a team.

        • Twoilms

          Oh man im tired of this. WHO? who the fuck is this mystery coach thats going to come in a transform mediocre players into All Black beaters?

        • disqus_NMX

          Straight off the top of my head, I’d see Ewen McKenzie, Phil Mooney, Rod Macqueen, Bob Dwyer, and Alan Jones as potential candidates. Whether any of those are realistic for various reasons, I have no idea, and it’s not really the point. You start by putting an ad out and see who applies. You look at their track record, talk to them about their vision for how they’d run the team, who’d they’d like as their assistants, look at the assistants track records, and so on. You don’t start by saying, oh woe, there’s no one. You put the ad out there and see who turns up. You have a bunch of criteria, and you follow a due process, using both your head and your heart.

          To be honest, Cheika WAS a good appointment, and I was all for it, and I think he did well at first. But his deficiencies have come to the fore, and he’s outlasted his usefulness. He is too stubborn, has made too many bad decisions and bad choices, and instead of admitting his mistakes (assuming he’s even aware of them), he doubles down on them. The Wallabies are seriously underperforming their potential. Time. To. Go.

        • IIPA

          I don’t know what made me laugh more. Mooney, Dwyer or Alan Jones.

          Look I appreciate the passion and frustration and you’re at least offering names. But the Wallabies aren’t a Qld club side and nor is this 1987

        • disqus_NMX

          Lol, sure, I totally get it about the names I threw down. Yes, realistically, none of those are likely serious contenders. Dwyer might have been a great option 20 years ago, but sure, at close to 80 years old, is probably a bit past it. But the process I described of hiring someone new is hardly rocket science. Throwing up your hands and giving up without even advertising makes no sense to me. Cheika is not working. So you thank him for his service, let him go, appoint a caretaker, advertise, and go about the process. It’s not that hard.

        • tREDgic

          Macqueen was amazing his first time around, and not because he was great at any particular rugby skill. He organised the team and made the players and coaches work well together.
          Link was considered not great because he had too much selection power, and so we doubled down with giving Chieka full selection power.
          Chieka is undoubtedly a good coach, but he has some massive weaknesses:
          1. He rates work rate over all else, which means players like Phipps, Hanigan, Robinson keep getting a run. These guys are good rugby players, and good Super Rugby players, but they are not (IMNSHO) world beaters. Better players are being left out.
          2. Picks players out of position then stuffs with everything to accommodate. Pooper – you cant not pick Pocock as he is best in the world, but Hooper is ineffective as Captain and not the best 7. Pocock, Tui, Samu or Pocock, Samu, Timu would be a much better selection.
          3. The defensive structure we have to cover too many players defensive weaknesses would be acceptable if the attack scored more points than they leaked.

          RA: Foley is considered the best 10 in Australia – that is a sad indictment
          Quade, Hunt, Slipper, Frisby all paid a fortune to not play. RA was topping up their contracts – how can they let that happen?
          Add on no FTA TV and making kids pay money to pay for the Wallabies million $ contracts

          A shakeup cant happen this close to a world cup, but they could put Macqueen over to sort out the mess.

        • Gareth

          Alan Jones – FFS

        • Dud Roodt

          Imagine re-hiring the guy who was caught getting it off with another bloke in a park WHILE ON WALLABY DUTY(!!!), and who has used the word “nigger” on air, aaaand had some pretty nasty rumours spread about his time at Kings.

        • Dud Roodt

          “The Wallabies are seriously underperforming their potential.”

          So the 30 odd players cobbled together from 4 of the worst performing teams in SR are under performing and presumably a good coach could come in and get those 30 odd players from 4 of the worst teams in the comp performing to their ability (which is what exactly?) to beat the best team in the world with 30 odd players cobbled together from 5 of the best teams on the planet?

        • disqus_NMX

          Yes, a good coach could absolutely get better performance out of them. No, maybe not enough to beat the Nearlies regularly, but it’s not entirely impossible. I’d say some of the reason we have some of the worst performing teams is partly due to poor SR coaching too.

        • Dud Roodt

          Perhaps Cheika is getting more out of our bunch than other coaches would be able to?
          Nothing in their SR performances suggest they are world beaters

        • disqus_NMX

          If you’re happy with his performance, then we will just have to agree to disagree.

        • Dud Roodt

          Of course I’m not. But I’m aware of the fact that there are many factors that come into coaching – and the cattle you have is #1 in that list.
          And there seems to be a theory here that we dump any number of 5 coaches into Cheika’s job and they turn this team of amazing footballing talent around to beat the best in the world.
          On the evidence we have – that seems unlikely.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Can we give the coach complaints a rest for just one minute? Please?

      I get the issues but really it’s everywhere and it drains my soul.

      • disqus_NMX

        No we can not. We will give it a rest when Cheika is gone.

        If the Wallabies and the Boks were playing good rugby, then the RC wouldn’t seem boring.

        • Footyyy

          Who do you propose as Cheika’s replacement?

        • disqus_NMX

          Refer to other comments in this thread.

      • disqus_NMX

        Just out of curiousity, I’m wondering if you still feel this way?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Won’t happen until after RWC

      • Brumby Runner

        A win here or there will be enough to cement Cheika until the RWC, but should he lose all or the majority of tests remaining this year, then it would be difficult to argue for his retention. And Ledesma seems to be going ok with the Pumas after just taking the reins. It is not impossible that a change of coach even this close to the RWC would lead to better results from the Wallabies.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate while I agree there isn’t anyone who can come in at short notice and as BL says RA can’t afford to sack him anyway

  • RugbyReg

    I love a three match series / tour. Would that work? Three tests v the Boks this year, three tests v the Argies next year and then we only play the ABs every three years? Really build it up to something special?

    • Hugh Cavill

      I think we’d struggle in the years we played the Argies, but it’s worth a look for sure.

      The Ireland series was a great model to replicate.

    • Wouldn’t Rugby Australia lose a heap of money moving from 7 tests (6 RC + 1 Bled) at this time of year to just 3 though?

  • Ed

    Interesting thoughts Hugh. We are stuck with the back-to-back Bledisloes until the end of 2021, thanks to the JON ten-year deal. I agree the schedule of the tournament should change as it favours the ABs and us more than the Boks and Pumas.
    A year where we play the ABs last in the TRC could lead to a Bledisloe series over three consecutive weekends, provided we continue with three ABs tests a year.

  • Happyman

    Good read Hugh I think the real issue is that the RC has become a victim of the AB’s rampant success. Everyone knows the outcomes of the games before they are played and that causes the lack of interest. Even the AB supporters are losing interest. If the WB and Safas were at the AB’s Level we would have full stadiums.
    Everyone wants to watch games where the outcome is not known. Look at the Ireland Series.

    The narrative also needs to change your team is not Rubbish if you lose. If you watch Fox all of the talking heads from other codes all put forward that the WB’s are rubbish.
    The Rugby guys need to point out that AFL and League is played locally only so it is pretty easy to be the best in the world. Soccer are happy to be 50th and say they are awesome.

    • Gareth

      Spot on Happy man – the narrative is just so negative. I hope i don’t offend those GAGR followers but the blog on Sunday/Monday following our WIN on Saturday was just downright depressing. i’m not a fan of rose tinted glasses but we bloody won and you’d think Hooper had killed a kids puppy on the half way line after being beaten by 100 points.

      • Dud Roodt

        I agree.
        The negativity after a win was out of control.

        I think if some commentors on here were honest they would admit that they have wanted Cheika and Hooper to fail since day 1.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Only against us. But yes

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’m not losing interest mate and most of my friends aren’t. We love seeing the ABs best all comers

    • Henry Barber

      “Even the AB supporters are losing interest”
      I think you seriously underestimate just how shallow us All Blacks fans are.

  • The Waterboy

    I know this is flogging a dead horse – but one of the problems I see is the current international season which gets interrupted by the Super Rugby finals. I often see the June tests as an entree to the Rugby Championship main course. How great would it be to go into Rugby Championship with all teams having played three or four matches already? Blown out the cobwebs, built some combinations, blooded some new talent and (hopefully) found some consistency. I feel that, at the very least, the rugby would be of higher quality.

    I definitely think that finishing the Rugby Championship with a Bledisloe test series would be far more exciting, the only problem is that there are three other teams in the competition that we need to consider. I would say that the big flights should be out of the way as early as possible to minimize the compounding fatigue over the course of the competition. So the first two rounds are the “South Atlantic Leg”, where Australia and NZ travel to South Africa and Argentina. After a bye the next two rounds are the “Australasia Leg” where South Africa and Argentina visit Australia and NZ. This can alternate every year, so the following season could start with Australasia Leg. Then the final two rounds are home and away between South Africa and Argentina, with a third test added to Australia and NZ.

    I know that, really, this is just a minor scheduling change, but I believe that it’s incredibly important to the quality and consistency of rugby. Plus, no one should have to play the All Blacks in round 1&2, that’s just torture.

    • BigNickHartman

      the June window is moving to July next year I think

      • Bakkies

        2020. European teams aren’t touring next year.

  • cantab

    Best option in terms of adjusting the structure of the comp
    is to just keep it as is then play a final between teams #1 vs #2. At this point the Saffa’s, Wallabies and Argies are all a chance of coming second.

    Get people to care about the mandala plate as much as the bledisloe cup.

    But really, the comp just needs the AB’s to lose some more games.

  • BigNickHartman

    Nice to see you back from Europe Hugh. Without your guidance, Alan’s gone off his rockers lately.

    The RC is so stale, I agree. Every August for the last 7 years or so I’ve seen the Wallabies get done by the ABs in Homebush (except for 2015 when Nic White scored that try).

    Few thoughts
    – at a minimum they must change the draw
    – at a minimum they must cut down the 2 bye weeks (player welfare, I know, but it kills momentum)
    – the RC would actually be pretty interesting if the ABs weren’t involved
    – integrating it with women’s sides could freshen things up
    – they should host an ABs vs Saffa game in Perth. in fact having a 3-week tournament in one city would a fun idea to have for a once-off
    – a Pacific Barbarians (Fiji + Samoa + Japan etc) could be an interesting way to spice it up
    – you mention the Champions League; UEFA is actually do a few interesting things with tournaments, they’ve just introduced a new Nations League to make internationals more competitive (so Spain plays France, and Luxembourg plays Cyprus more often) and for Euro 2020 they’re going to host it all over Europe just not in one or two countries

    • Henry Barber

      “the RC would actually be pretty interesting if the ABs weren’t involved”
      just beat the All Blacks.

      • BigNickHartman

        between Argentina, the Boks and the Wallabies it’s very competitive. or you could be an ABs fan on an Australian rugby site and search for personal offence

  • Archie

    Is it the format or certain teams’ underperformance? The latter is a factor of course… so if that doesn’t change, why would a different format fix it?

    • Missing Link

      How do you feel about affordable housing in NZ? Do you believe there’s a growing divide between rich and poor and do you believe a far too small number of kiwis posses the majority of wealth? Do you believe Jacinda Ardern is a great PM?

      • Archie

        1. Not fussed (plenty of options outside Auckland)

        2. No

        3. Preferred JK, but too early to judge

        • Missing Link

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a socialist but I know that many people in NZ think Ardern is the ducks guts. Anyway, trying to draw an analogy. The All Blacks have worked hard over the last decade in a high paying job which has enabled them to buy a large house on the north shore outright. Meanwhile, the Wallabies and Springboks have been doing a bit of work here are there in a few warehouse jobs and are currently renting houses in Mangere Bridge and Papatoetoe respectively. Argentina have recently arrived in the country and have been placed in state housing but through sheer determination they are taking the limited opportunities they have to make a better life in NZ.

          That’s pretty much how The Rugby Championship looks right now. We need Winston Peters to pull a few strings and deliver us a horse faced prime minister who will ensure the north shore wankers are doing their bit to help out the rest of the nation and give the warehouse workers better opportunities to catch up along with the recent arrivals.

          How this is done, I don’t know but I can tell you that All Black domination is killing The Rugby Championship. You can sit up there on your balcony and overlook the harbour and say “who gives a shit, not our fault we are so successful”, but the view from Mangere Bridge is all farms, state housing and low flying aircraft.

          Even up the comp, make all 4 teams competitive and the comp with thrive. Ledesma has been coaching with us for the past couple of years, now he’s with Argentina who seemed to have improved. Same with Henry beforehand. Why doesn’t NZ second their coaches to Aus, SA and Arg at least to help raise the standards?

          What exactly does one do after achieving world domination? The become a philanthropist… your move NZ

        • Archie

          I enjoyed that! That’s a hell of an analogy. I’ve got to respect your knowledge of Auckland geography and NZ politics… impressive; have you lived here?

          Anyway I see your point. I don’t agree entirely but I get what you’re saying. My comments are:

          1. Making ‘all 4 teams competitive’ is the objective, no doubt… but how? My point is that I don’t think a format change fixes it (unless that format change is designed to unfairly handicap the ABs… e.g. they have to play all their games away from home or something).

          2. I’d argue that NZ coaches are among the most widespread and readily available foreign rugby resource in world rugby. It was one of the last two RWCs (I forget which one), an analyst pointed out that close to half the teams competing had a NZ coach on staff.

          3 If the proposed solution is for the ABs to become ‘less good’ somehow, all you’ll achieve is a more competitive but lower quality rugby competition. Not a worthwhile trade off in my opinion.

          4. Finally, it’s not fair to imply this is the All Blacks’ problem. That house they bought on the North Shore… they worked their arse off for, and they deserve to enjoy the view over the harbour… they earned it. I empathise with those in Mangere bridge… but it’s up to them to find their own way to that dream home on the North Shore.

          P.S… I’m having a chuckle typing this, as -abandoning the metaphor for a moment- there’re so many expats living on the North Shore (particularly Saffas) :)

        • Missing Link

          I’ve worked in NZ a little bit and I have kiwi friends, I’ve picked up a little local knowledge along the way.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Great write up and love the analogies. However, long may the AB reign continue. The other teams need to learn and step up so that we as a SH block can continue to dominate the RWC and have the 6 nations comp as the way to provide the 5th best team in the world. ABs are dominant – cool! About time the rest of you stopped your political horseshit and got better. No way in the world should the ABs drop off to make you feel better. That’s just bullshit

        • Geoffro

          Damn right,the AB’s have always been the benchmark and there was nothing sweeter for an aussie fan than when we were able to take it to them in the last great period for Wallaby rugby circa. the turn of the century.Hope I get to experience that again.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          yeah not so much fun for me

        • tREDgic

          I don’t think NZ can help Aus or SA rugby as our problems are our own making. We have seen the model from NZ working for over a decade but we chose to remain where a few Sydney clubs dominate the NSW RU (including the waratahs) who then dominate the votes in RA.
          Our problems at fly half would not be as big under the NZ contracting system, nor would our pathetic school boy retention rate. School boy rugby has been on (FTA) TV forever in NZ, aussie kids grow up watching league

        • Dally M

          That theory conveniently ignores the competition for talent here in Australia.

          Give Oz rugby the talent from 15/16 League teams and all off the AFL and then how would the Wallabies be faring against the AB’s.

          RA doesn’t have the money to throw at the school boys to compete with League.

        • Richard Patterson

          Very creative Missing Link. What happened to the days when Australian sport would rise up to any challenge in front of them? Australian cricket has done it on numerous occasions. The Kangaroos have set the standard in international Rugby League forever. For decades Australian swimming was a powerhouse. Australia has always filled the ranks of the great golfers, tennis players, jockeys, motor racing drivers. The list goes on.

          Somehow now you’ve given up. Now instead of rising up, you want the leader to come down to you. Since when has that been the great Australian sports physchie?
          Guess you also want Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots to let someone else represent the AFC in the Super Bowl too huh? Let Lebron James allow another team to go to NBA Finals. Actually – tell that to the GS Warriors too!! Oh – and the Melbourne Storm too. They are really hurting the NRL. Tell Federer, Djokovic & Nadal to let some young guys win a Slam to keep men’s tennis interesting. Serena the same in women’s tennis.

          Maybe, just maybe you may want to whisper to Michael Cheika and Rugby Australia they need to smarten up. You know, stop repeating the same old nonsense and expecting different results. Isn’t that the definition of Insanity? Maybe they got to get really smart because Rugby now is a really smart game. NZ Rugby and the All Blacks are not slowing down Missing Link. They are going to keep speeding up because they want the All Blacks to be a global brand like Manchester United, the NY Yankees, Dallas Cowboys & Barcelona FC. They want global brands like Adidas, AIG and Gatorade to keep aligning with them so they make lots of money. Lots of money that gets reinvested into NZ Rugby so they maintain global dominance and make more money. It’s a Virtuous Cycle. Australia must adapt. I hope they do. Everyone, everywhere stands to benefit. Even those in Papatoetoe, Wagga Wagga and Alice Springs.

        • Missing Link

          Great response Richard, my only counter is that it’s easy to say you are the best when you are the best and that you’ll keep getting better which will increase your revenue through sponsorship which you will reinvest to keep getting better, until of course, your opponents cannot afford to pay players or admin staff anymore, and end up fielding amateurs who will get flogged even harder, there will be next to no gate takings and it will be easier to shut up shop. The All Blacks can’t keep winning if they have no one to play against.

        • Richard Patterson

          Every single one of us admired the really great Australian cricket teams of the past 25 years ML. They were the masters at ruthlessly applying pressure and ratcheting things up until the opposition folded. If the batsmen failed, the bowlers got wickets. If the bowlers failed, the batsmen got runs. They were brilliant in the field and set the standards in all forms of the game. The world adjusted though. Batsmen learned to play quick bowling, right arm leg spinning and bowlers learned to bowl more effectively and they all pursued the Australian cricket team outside of Australian conditions. The same will happen to the All Blacks and Rugby. England have 10x the players and money NZ Rugby will ever hope to have. It is important the other Rugby countries go with them. We all know Rugby in Ireland mimics Rugby in Australia and is inferior to the Gaelic sports + soccer. Ireland though have established development pathways and coaching systems to lift the whole sport. Scotland have bugger all of anything — but they have cleverly utilised what they have and are a better rugby country because of it. Ditto Argentina.

          Rugby Australia is in a sweet position. They have more exposure to NZ Rugby than anyone else. Somehow though those benefits are not really being seen. Apart from 2 Waratahs wins over the Highlanders and a Rebels win over a dreadful Blues side this year in Super Rugby we fail to see much progress. Meanwhile they fight over when the Shute Shield and NRC should be contested and no party appears to have the remotest interest in helping any other. Queensland still hate NSW. No-one cares for Victoria and everyone hates WA. Good young rugby players keep getting picked off to Rugby League Clubs and all the growth is in Pacifica players — many of whom were not even born in Australia. Hardly stuff to make the Gin & Tonics in Mossman and Coogee taste sweet. Maybe Raelene Castle can pull it all together. Go ask Canterbury Bulldogs fans though for a vote on her ability. She was handed a mess though from Pulver who was dealing with the legacy of a significant mess left by John O’Neill.

          You got to fight the tough fight Missing Link. You got to stand up in Rugby Clubs, and in Reds & Waratahs Memberships groups and say you have had enough!! You have to serve up very clear expectations to all the decision makers — whether it is solicited or unsolicited!! You’ve got to get through their narrow-minded, parochial minds that the train over in NZ has left the station. It is rolling and the smartest thing Rugby in Australia could do is coattail off all the work that is going on. NZ Rugby would welcome it. Your point is very valid. Having only 20,000 people at Eden Park watching a one-sided Bledisloe Cup game is a lose-lose for everyone. I sense the ball is in Rugby Australia’s court. Enjoy the weekend test matches.

        • Missing Link

          Cheers mate, you too. Have a beer on me

        • Richard Patterson

          Congrats Missing Link — you got your wish. Terrific test match in Wellington and the Springboks show the blueprint on how to beat this All Blacks side. To the victor the deserved spoils.

          Hopefully it puts to bed this dreadful notion that rugby currently is boring and the Rugby Championship is stale. Go share those opinions with those heroic
          Springbok players.

        • Missing Link

          Hey Richard, it was a great game. I was fixated on the TV right up until the end and despite not being worried with who won, I was on the edge of my seat. That game delivered and will probably be on of the all time classics between NZ and SA. It’s great for rugby and the comp as a whole.

  • Gottsy

    I think you’re right Hugh, it’s getting a bit predictable. Draw change is definitely needed, for the reasons given- I think it would be good to include another team(s), imagine if Fiji and japan were included for instance. (Or have a relegation system where the likes of Fiji, Japan, Samoa and Tonga play off to get in to trc)
    It would give them so much more to play for and would probably be a big boost for those unions too, imagine if Fiji were going to be hosting South Africa at home for example you can imagine it would be a massive deal

  • Alister Smith

    Certainly it would be good to break up our All Blacks games a bit. Two up front to begin the RC is a bit much. I would probably prefer tours where we got the opportunity to play mid-week games against provincial teams on Wednesday’s and then the test on Saturday. We could play home and away against the All Blacks for the Bledisloe but only one game counts to the Rugby Championship and tour one of Argentina, South Africa or NZ each year. Tours are three tests but only one game against each team counts to the rugby championship. That would give us five in total and because we have only played one game per team for RC points then we could have a final between 1 & 2 in Singapore or Hong Kong or Tokyo. If we had an incoming tour to Australia we could give our squad players mid week games against Tonga, Fiji and Samoa as double headers while the Saffers, Argentinians or All Blacks were playing a Reds, Waratahs selection (one or a combination of NRC sides). It might be difficult to fit in with NRC but its all done in a month or less.

    • tREDgic

      Bledisloe in Singapore or HK every few years would draw a great crowd

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Winning more than losing would certainly help. I’m not so sure it’s as much about the RC as it is about a perception that RA and Cheika don’t seem to give a shit about the fans. Stupid contracts to underperforming players, cutting teams like the Force (more how it was done than the result) and Parramatta. Endless whinging from the Toffs at the Sydney clubs and the NSW and QLD boards being so disfunctional and not helping, very little FTA games so people can feel connected along with a steady decline in world standings all contribute to a feeling of meh!
    It’s all very well blaming Super rugby and I’d like to see it change to a biannual round robin with away one year, home the next for all teams and a finals that didn’t favour poor performers. But no Super Rugby = no dollars = more players going off shore.
    The RC need a change where each team plays each other once before the return match. Might not change the result but would make it more interesting. Maybe even a 1 vs 2 final to really spice things up

  • What I’d really like to see, if I had my wish is a two centre tournament. You’d need a rolling format and a fun financial package I’m sure. But basically you’d have a group of matches played in Australia and (say) SA one year. Next year, NZ and Argentina. The following year NZ and SA, the fourth year Australia and Argentina. If you don’t expand at all, you would have the same number of matches (6 in Australia, 6 in SA in the first year over 3 weekends each) and a 1 week gap in the middle, and NZ v Australia for Bled III to arrange. There’s less travel, half the matches are in a good time zone for all the markets, you never get Wobs vs ABs home and away, as Australia will play NZ, SA and Arg in some order. You can have a random draw for that from year to year, or rotate it or whatever.

    The finances will be fun, because everyone will get 2 home tournaments every 4 years, but they won’t be alternate years, it will be 2 on, 2 off. Everyone will get TV revenue though. I would say that SANZAAR hires the stadium and takes whatever the deal is for the ticket revenue, then just splits it four ways each time to the unions. But I’m sure there will be a lot wrangling over that, money is always fun to wrangle over after all.

    The years it’s in Australia, you have 3 weekends with 6 internationals. Three will feature the Wobs, and you’d hope you could get the fans out. 2 others will feature the ABs and you stand a chance of getting some fans out – there are enough expat Kiwis to see them. The other one will feature SA vs Argentina, and there are some expat Saffas around. You might have to pick your cities a bit, but it gives RA a chance to put international rugby around the country.

    I watched both games at the weekend. Unlike you I was excited for them both. If I’d had the ability to travel between them and watch them live, I know which one I’d have been more excited to have seen. No one was wearing any green at the game though… so you might be surprised to see fans turn out for the “other” games in the hope of seeing a good match, especially if the pricing is right.

  • mikado

    Probably impossible, but it’d be fun to include a couple of NH teams and have everyone playing each other only once (alternating home/away matches year by year).

  • Caeliv Donnelly

    What you need is a 5th team – Samoa /Fiji with promotion / relegation from the Pacific Championship.

    Week 1-5:
    Then each of the 5 teams play each other once.

    Week 6:
    Semi Finals
    1 v 4
    2 v 3

    Week 7:
    3rd / 4th place playoff

    WEEK 8:
    Loser of 3rd / 4th playoff plays off against 5th place team to decide relegation to Rugby Championship.

    Problem is familiarity and it breeds contempt. Need a shake up.

    • Alister Smith

      Not sure that familiarity is an issue with the 6 Nations in Europe. By introducing a Pacific team that gets trounced every year we might be just doing the same as happened in the Six Nations with Italy.

      • Caeliv Donnelly

        Italy haven’t diminished the attraction of the competition though, adding a team will inject cash into Pacific game thus increasing the standard. Long term you will benefit.

        • Alister Smith

          Yes that’s very true and as a Scotland fan for many years it meant there was someone we had a chance of beating (though going better now). I am less convinced by the chance of a fifth team being relegated/promoted – might be better to give them a bit more time or to have a combined Pacific Warrior or the something. We could also add Japan and that would give us six – home one year away another and perhaps a final.

  • Ed

    Here is a Daily Terror article from 2014, written by the now chief editor of , that states only the first Bledisloe test has to be in Sydney, not as the first match of the TRC. If so, hopefully they can rearrange the schedule for 2020 – next year being a shortened tournament.

    I wonder if ARU/RA have thought more about it since 2014??

  • Queenslander

    I watch the WBs and am convinced we have the athletes to match the ABs however we seem to lose our nerve when it gets tight. The number of times we are building phases then kick if we can’t break the line immediately drives me nuts. Kicking to the best counter attacking team I have ever seen is poor strategy and invariably leads to AB scores. It is a coward play. New rules….. no kicking …. never put the ball into a contest when you don’t need to so every penalty is a tap and go… how about the pigs run in pairs and off load… the odd mid field maul to mix it up… hmmm some change of angles and dummy runners when the half passes to crash ball pigs so the poor bastards aren’t canon fodder… couple back row moves would be nice. Just mulling over things on the East Coast of the USA while trying to avoid a fucking great hurricane. (We have bigger ones in QLD so there!!!!!)

  • Richard Patterson

    An interesting perspective on everything Hugh. Sadly, this feels disturbingly similar to the rhetoric that was circulating about Super Rugby in April-May. Is it really the case now that when results don’t go the right way it’s easier to heap the blame on the competition format — not the sides contributing to the disappointment?

    There is very little structurally that needs to change with the Rugby Championship. Every year Australian rugby / sports fans get to watch high quality international sport served up to them over a 6 week period. They see their national team play against highly ranked international opponents — 3 times in Australia, and then 3 times on TV. The competition produces 12 international matches over 6 weeks. Which other sports in Australia does that? Which other sports in Australia wish they could do that? God forbid aren’t the NRL right now trumpeting the fact the Kangaroos are playing 2 test matches against Tonga and New Zealand in October?

    The problem with the Rugby Championship is Australia always underperform expectations. Whether the expectations entering the tournament are justified is a whole different subject but is the current mood influenced by a belief that this was a year where hope felt a little higher than normal? Hadn’t there been some improvement in Super Rugby – especially by the well followed Waratahs? Wasn’t it largely full-strength Wallaby side for the Bledisloe Cup matches? Wasn’t the belief that coaching lessons from previous years had been learned? The real problem Hugh is the lessons had not been learned. The expectations were unfortunately unsubstantiated and were quickly deflated. The Wallabies were then disappointing against South Africa because they have insufficient skills and composure in the big moments. They are not coached intelligently and therefore the same issues emerge every match of every year. It has not changed for 4 years and yet somehow people hope / think it will. Now it seems it’s the fault of the Rugby Championship format.

    I hope greater attention is placed on raising the standards of rugby across Australia, not any wholesale restructuring of the Rugby Championship, Super Rugby or any other competition Australia competes in. If criticism is to be directed, aim it at the same players, coaches and administrators who consistently fail in the same areas year after year. To me there is substantial amounts of “Meh” right there. The same players, coaches and administrators who preach change – but deliver none. The same players, coaches and administrators who say they have to keep working hard — but seldom talk about working smarter. I guess working smarter is more challenging than working harder. The same players, coaches and administrators who have consistently seen the areas needing improvement – but found reason to deliver few solutions. Raised standards, skills, mindset and behaviour from those same players, coaches and administrators will lead to better results. Better results will lead to greater interest. It will work for Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship, End of Year NH tours and anywhere else Australian Rugby competes. Don’t touch the competition format, or the teams involved. Change Rugby in Australia. The rest will look after itself.

  • Packy

    We all gang up on the All Blacks.
    First half – Argies v All Blacks
    Second half – Boks v All Blacks
    Third half – Wallabies v All Blacks, Beale runs riot
    I’d pay a hundred dollars to see that.

  • Cmac

    Good brainstorm Hugh. It’s feeling like a tired format right now (although SA and Arg might be enjoying it at the moment!)
    1. Any change in RC had to include a/some Pacific Nations team(s). We (AUS and NZ) have been pilfering their rugby stocks for so long, supporting some regular top tier comps for those guys is the least we could do. And how good would it be?
    2. Left field idea; why not borrow a bit from the tennis model (Davis Cup), and have the comp decided by sum of points for each pair of nations playing means and womens 15s and mens and womens 7s? Would give the 7s and the womens games a much deserved boost and would make the whoel lthing much more interesting. Get rid of the June test window, have an extended RC season after Super rugby finishes, and reserve Oct-Nov for NH vs SH games.
    My 2c. A nice diversion from thinking aboiut the state of our mens 15s team.


Can't write, can't play. Tahs and Wallabies.

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