Too much of a good thing, as it turns out, is not really a good thing. And, let us be clear; it used to be amazing. There used to be a time when Saturday mornings were the preserve of rugby lessons from New Zealand, and then afternoons were for transferring those morning skills onto the fields of dreams.
Those days were a long time ago now. Way back when we were schoolboys, and walls of wonder were plastered with Christian Cullens and André Snymans at full tilt. Super Rugby, or whatever its name was back then, was the coolest thing out there, southern hemisphere rugby’s answer to the Champions League.
How the world has changed since then. Technology has arrived, and everything has become better, faster, and our memories and attention spans far more fleeting. It didn’t matter back in the 2000s how long the competition ran, because there were few better options to turn our heads.
International rugby was a step up, and the end of year road-trips a nice change of atmosphere, before we looked forward to early February and balmy evenings at the Shark Tank. How times have changed and yet, the annual recipe has dug in and banked on sentiment to keep it going. Gosh, it truly has become as exciting as last Christmas’s socks. It feels like it drags on for the entire year, with brief mercies afforded for June internationals and family functions. If we as observers are over it, spare a thought for the players, who start preparing for it, as soon as the previous campaign is over. You cannot realistically say that the motivation level is the same, after having to lift yourself for not so Super campaign, after not so Super campaign.
You can tell that the competition is in ICU because even traditional spectator strongholds like New Zealand have started mushrooming empty seats. Back in the day, a semi-final between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes would have been filled to the rafters. Yesterday, it was just another fixture, another step closer to the end of another slog.
You wonder what it would take for someone to get the North and the South to sit down, and negotiate a global game of domestic thrones. The Kings and the Cheetahs have already tested the waters, and found them agreeable. The travel is not so bad, and the crowds are quite tickled by the prospect of new names, new destinations, and new cultures to get accustomed to.
Imagine, if you dare, Racing Metro bringing their euros and their French flair to sleepy Wellington every year, and then the Stormers popping up somewhere in Ireland on a wet and windy Friday night. We can but dream, because those flights of fancy are a lot more tantalising than the prospect of yet another Kiwi triumph.
As much as New Zealand and their people love rugby, they too must be bored of their domestic dictatorship, which then leads onto the Rugby Championship. Let them hear some different accents on a regular basis, and even see some of their former stars in different jumpers. Anything but this stuff that we have to endure every week, for so many weeks of the year. Somewhere, out there, rugby’s equivalent of Lalit Modi must be plotting, carefully assembling the expensive pieces of this puzzle.
If only they could hurry the process along, and take us all out of our collective misery. One more week, for that final between God Knows Who, against Who Even Cares