Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Biggest Problem... Yeah Right

Remember after the last world cup, when all those All Blacks buggered off over to shag good looking French birds and drink wine, or if you were a forward, to fight football hooligans and sleep with fat English birds, Steve Tew and Jock Hobbs bemoaning the fact that all these fat cats with their big wallets were destroying the domestic competition for us? That it was causing us to rush players into professional rugby before they were ready for it?

I'm here to tell you a story of that very situation. In 2006 two holy groups joined together in domestic rugby bliss. A honeymoon period ensued where the new pairing celebrated their first point in the competition, were steamrolled by a dominant fathering union, before recording their first win in round three against a semi-rural team which had only just taken the big step up to face the big boys.

For those who haven't already guessed, I'm talking about Tasman. Now, I'm not going to get on the NZRU's back because at the end of last season they were certainly gone for all money and wouldn't have made too many noises if they had been dumped in the off season.

But, I think this years competition has been good [possibly due to the exclusion of the All Blacks] in evening the competition - If you had told someone at the end of the NPC that Southland, Northland, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty would all make the top 8 two years later while Auckland, North Harbour and Otago would not progress past the knockout stage they would have taken the car keys off you and called you a cab to go home. Yet that is exactly the situation we have seen and I personally hope it continues. Those 'small' unions are slowly becoming more financially viable and signing/keeping their big players. [Hawke's Bay + Thomas Waldrom, good deal mateys. And Taranaki will be a good unit next season.]

Anyway, back to the Tasman thing. They've been competitive, rattling Wellington for a while and almost capturing the Ranfurly Shield. If Marlborough pull out of the merger though, the NZRU has said it will pull the plug. The entire board of Tasman has also just stood down in an effort to fix the rift between Marlborough and Nelson Bays, the two unions forming Tasman. Hang on, if Tasman collapses, who benefits from the whole three season ordeal? Oh yeah, the Crusaders, in receiving the services of Todd Blackadder [refer to earlier point about inexperience being rushed to the top] in some kind of South Island incestuous self-fulfulling prophecy.

In any case, if Marlborough pull out, shouldn't Nelson Bays be allowed to find another merger partner? In some weird way I could see West Coast or Horowhenua-Kapiti being keen to get out of the Heartland.

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