CAPE TOWN – Should more time be allowed between the Super Rugby semi-finals and final?
In the midst of yet another Super Rugby success story for the Crusaders, there’s not much you can really fault when it comes to everything around the competition and the result thereof. Scott Robertson’s team deserved that three-peat. There’s no doubt about that.
There is an element of fairness to be considered, though. Although, having said that, it can also quickly be argued that if the visiting team wants the luxury of being an Uber ride away from the final venue, they should earn that by getting the results throughout the regular season.
And that’s true but, on the other hand, looking at the state the competition is in, perhaps more could be done to improve its health.
We all know that Super Rugby ain’t what it used to be... that’s made clear in crowd attendances, for one. And there are also a lot of different opinions around the state of the competition.
Some say the Crusaders’ domination isn’t healthy for the competition. I disagree. Other teams simply need to step up and give them a challenge. Besides, there are a lot of examples from a lot of different sporting codes that prove that a single athlete or one team’s perpetual dominance hasn’t ruined the game. It could be the opposite, in fact.
Some say the final should take place at a neutral venue. Again, I believe the team that has earned that top spot deserves home-ground advantage.
There are also those who say the exodus of players - especially post the World Cup - will dilute the competition even further. And the “lack of competition” viewpoint is also a common one.
For a team like the Crusaders, for example, their quality speaks for itself, and the fact that they can take a stroll down to the stadium, while the opposition has to do extensive traveling (in the case of non-Kiwi teams, of course), certainly adds to that edge.
If this was 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have taken issue with that. I still don’t really. But I do think that in an effort to boost the game, perhaps giving a break between the semis and the ultimate Super showdown would help.
At the weekend, Christchurch’s makeshift Addington Stadium might have been filled to capacity but the fact is that the almost-18 000 crowd was the lowest final turnout in tournament history.
Adding more breathing time in-between the semis and the final won’t magically remedy all the competition’s ailments, but I don’t see how it could hurt.
Jaguares fans, for example might, with such a gap, have been more willing to make their way to New Zealand as their team would certainly have been in a better physical space. And it could also help the final to be seen as more “even”.
There are enough benefits that go to a team hosting a home quarter, semi and final. And having another advantage over a team that has had to travel thousands of kilometres and deal with the short turnaround doesn’t have to be another one.
In a time when the competition needs every boost it can get, it might help. A lot more needs to be done, however, but that gap can be one of those aids.