Credit where it’s due

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :In the news, Super 14 on 7 May 2008 at 20:20

Mark Keohane, writing for the Cape Times, reckons we should give more credit to those SA teams who overcome a demanding travel schedule to remain competitive in the Super 14.

Once again it is down to two rounds in the Super 14 and one league win that separates teams two and seven.

Once again those who devised the structure of the tournament are commending themselves because any tournament in which the play-offs only get determined in the last week has to be a good one. At least that’s the self indulgence you will hear.

But the Super 14 is not a fair tournament. It favours the New Zealand and Australian teams because of travel determined by geography and it also gives half the teams a more favourable draw each year, which in essence means it is not a fair tournament.

The Super 14, like the Super 12, is weighted against South African teams. This is not a gripe but a fact and yet we wonder why we continue to fail more than succeed.

Let’s take the Lions as an example. They are fair game and All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick gave them a bollocking for their shabby performance against the Hurricanes in Wellington last week.

What Fitzpatrick did not say was the Lions had been on tour for five weeks, jetting between New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand teams play, at most, three games in South Africa. Australian teams get two. Occasionally a New Zealand team will get an Aussie team on the way over or one on the way back and when they do you never hear the end of how demanding the schedule is.

This brings us back to the South African teams, for whom a short tour is four weeks.

The South African players in time have improved and learned to enjoy Australia and New Zealand, but no matter how much you enjoy a place the difference between three and five matches is a fortnight away from home and in all probability eight league points lost on the road.

When you consider that four league points have historically separated teams four and eight, you get to appreciate the impact of the additional two weeks away from home.

Given the circumstances and the disadvantage of the draw (based on geographics) the fact that South Africa invariably has one team in the semi-finals and on most occasions two in the top five is a major credit to the boys.

The reality is South Africa does not have the depth for five teams and neither does New Zealand. Australia also does not have the depth for four teams. But outside of the depth issue, the best South African teams do bloody well.

I don’t think we give them enough credit and I have been as guilty as the next person. Our expectations are high and we demand success every weekend. But the reaction too often is over the top.

Because of this South African inferiority complex which too many still have, it seems improper to object to the schedule because then South Africans are accused of being an extension of Pommy whingers.

The obvious solution is for South African teams to play in Europe, but that doesn’t seem likely. South Africa, by playing in the Super 12, have improved New Zealand and Australia’s development of players, to the detriment of their own.

If there is to be an expansion to the Super 14 then it has to ensure the teams all play the same number of games overseas and spend equal time away from home.

Otherwise we will be wasting our time again and continue to be the whipping boys of New Zealand and to a lesser degree Australia.

The point is the Kiwis are not that good and we are not that bad. But when we continue to give them an eight-point tournament head start we will never know how good we can be or just how ordinary their teams can look.


  • Kind of goes along with what I said yesterday… maybe we should only really try to win this thing in the years where we have the 4-match tour

  • Comment 1, posted at 07.05.08 20:22:05 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Try telling this to True Kiwi supporters and they just can’t see the problem, even when spoken to REALLY SLOWELY. Also the fact that the first game for SA teams is after having been in the Air for about 24 hrs. Also traveling against time makes one very tired, I know they travel Business Class not Cattle Class, but living out of a suite case for 5 weeks can’t be exciting, Invariably Kiwi teams come back to NZ after a reasonably succesful trip so are still on a bit of a high, so its probably easier having some continuity.

  • Comment 2, posted at 08.05.08 02:34:29 by Dynamite Reply

  • and some times the kiwi refs also do their part.

  • Comment 3, posted at 08.05.08 03:04:04 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • ok – there’s another factor here… the reason the Sharks and Bulls managed such good log positions last year was because all 5 SA teams were doing their bit and giving the ANZACS hard games in SA. This year (as is the case most years) 3 of the 5 SA teams have just rolled over and played dead, meaning that Loftus, Ellis Park and whatever they call the stadium in Bloemfontein just aren’t seen as tough away venues.

  • Comment 4, posted at 08.05.08 09:09:34 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • If i had to fly 26 hours and spend 5 weeks on bus trips away from friends and family, i’d also be a little demotivated.
    SA teams have it hard. Last year was the Sharks’ best chance…pity.

  • Comment 5, posted at 08.05.08 09:25:01 by CapeShark Reply
    The Great Couch Shark
  • Maybe the NZ teams will be weak again next year… looks like they’re bound to lose Evans, Cudder, Collins, just to name a few… We’ll also have the easier tour next year.


  • Comment 6, posted at 08.05.08 09:27:23 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • A very good and insightful article by Keo.

    Also good that you placed it here, now if you can just get your friend at Sharks Rugby to publish it then maybe us Sharks “fans” will be more guarded with our rantings, that many times border on infantile dummy spitting, which can only serve to demotivate the players as opposed to inspire them when things are not going their way.

  • Comment 7, posted at 08.05.08 09:47:32 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • Good point indeed…

    Sometimes we forget to appreciate the good moments and only concentrate on the stuff that went wrong.

    That said…we are back home now…we’ve had a bit of time to train in Durban…let’s go out there and beat those Cheetahs convincingly.

  • Comment 8, posted at 08.05.08 09:52:30 by blackshark N.R.N.S! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • The playing fields can be levelled by ensuring that all teams CONTINEOUSLY spend the same amount of time away from home.

  • Comment 9, posted at 08.05.08 10:06:45 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle
  • I’ve seen on other websites where the suggestion from Kiwis are that we (SA) should perhaps join a NH competition and they will replace us with teams from ASIA and the pacific

  • Comment 10, posted at 08.05.08 10:42:55 by walter van Reply

    walter van Lions World
  • Maybe when the NH produces more World Champions we’ll think about playing with them.

  • Comment 11, posted at 08.05.08 11:16:45 by blackshark N.R.N.S! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • “because any tournament in which the play-offs only get determined in the last week has to be a good one. At least that’s the self indulgence you will hear.”

    Its why its such a great tourney….you cannot deny it. Its not indulgence and it ends up this way every season – its called tension followed by the high of success and the semi’s or consigning another season to the dustbin – see any bulls fan now compared with this time last year.

    As to the travel stuff its a circle argument that will never end. But we have started seeing a lot more victories on the road from Bulls, Sharks and Stormers in the past few years.

    Comment 4 of 10 is on the money. The reason our teams struggle to make the semis more than losses away is that every year we have two or three teams who gift five points weekly to the NZ and Aussie sides and then go out and play bruising battles against each other. If touring SA was a hell in terms of wins away – the log would look a lot different.

    The Hurricanes last tour yielded them 10 very easy points. Take those away and they aren’t even in contention.

  • Comment 12, posted at 08.05.08 11:30:45 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • yeah, exactly.

    The Lions have won NO games against overseas opposition in SA this year and aren’t likely to this weekend.
    The Cheetahs beat the Reds and lost all the others.
    The Bulls have done slightly better, in winning two, but the Highlanders didn’t really count. Just that one win against the Tahs has already made a huge difference. Imagine they had beaten the Saders and the Canes as well?

  • Comment 13, posted at 08.05.08 11:44:14 by robdylan (Sharks Forever!) Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Yep…touring RSA is nothing more than a vacation full of BYE’s…the teams depart feeling more refreshed than they did when they landed… 🙄

  • Comment 14, posted at 08.05.08 14:51:29 by blackshark N.R.N.S! Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Comment 14 of 14, posted at 08.05.08 14:51:29 by blackshark N.R.N.S! blackshark N.R.N.S!

    Except, according to the Brumbies,for all the hardships of our poor hygiene and rife food poisonings….

  • Comment 15, posted at 08.05.08 14:56:19 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass

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