The Quirk

The IPL… of rugby…

Written by Ryan Quirk (The Quirk)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, Reader Submissions, Super 14, Super Rugby, Tri Nations, Wallabies on 11 May 2012 at 15:16
Tagged with : , , , , ,

I remember the first few guises of Super rugby, the Super 8, Super 10 and the Super 12.  I was a youngster when it started, quite surprised that suddenly our much loved local teams were taking on these teams from overseas, littered with great All Blacks and Wallabies that I’d only seen during Springboks tours and during the 1991 and 1995 world cup.

Great players like Andrew Mehrtens playing with Justin Marshall.  Tim Horan and Jason Little dominating the midfield for the Reds.  The Super 12 was the ultimate.  There were three Aussie sides, the Queensland Reds,  NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies, four South African Sides, the Bulls, Stormers / WP, Coastal Sharks (yup) and the Cats.  New Zealand, as now, had five, with the Auckland Blues, Canterbury Crusaders, Otago Highlanders, Wellington Hurricanes and Waikato Chiefs.

The standard was almost that of test match rugby and the laws at that time seemed to encourage running, attacking rugby.  I’ll never forget Christian Cullen and Tana Umaga slicing through backline after backline leaving red faced defenders in their wake.  I’ll never forget how the ACT Brumbies used to build patiently for phase after phase just waiting for the opportunity to unleash Stephan Larkham or Joe Roff on the tryline. I’ll never forget how frustrating it was thinking that our SA sides just weren’t as good as the New Zealanders were, and swearing at Sean Fitzpatrick after he’d gotten away with murder, again!  I made a point of watching every game because they were that good.   It was just better.

I could name great players of the past all day, but I’m not going to, there is no point.   It isn’t that today’s players are any less talented than those of yesteryear, because they are, perhaps more so.  The problem with 15 teams isn’t that the players aren’t as good, the problem, especially in Australia, is that they are more thinly spread than the last bit of butter on the last slice of toast at a breakfast function for the obesity club of North America.

It would be alright if the quality in the other three sides remained unchanged, but it hasn’t.  The Reds, Waratahs and Brumbies are competitive, but nowhere near as foreboding as they used to be.  Yes, the Reds are the defending champions, but last year they were lucky with injuries to key players and they had Quade Cooper in the form of his life.  This season they were decimated by injury and just didn’t have the necessary depth to cover.  They got smashed three games in a row until their players started coming back.  The Lions are dismal, and the Cheetahs, whilst being entertaining, aren’t ever going to compete at the top of the table.  They just don’t have the players.

When you have top guys like Beale and o Connor playing for piss poor sides like the Rebels instead of competing with Berrick Barnes or displacing Daniel Halangahu, Tom Carter (who?) and Rob Horne back to the bench where they belong, you take away what made the competition so special in the first place.  We want to see the best taking on the best!  And we’re not…

It’s like Dale Steyn playing for that awful side in the IPL, it doesn’t matter how good he is; they still lose!  So what do we have then, a competition that runs from February until August, where nobody outside of Australia bothers to watch games involving the Rebels, Force and anyone they play?  Why?  It seems ludicrous.   Add a few fireworks and some more dancing girls and there you have it.  The Rugby IPL!  A watered down tepid affair that nobody is that interested in.

I know I have picked on the Australian sides.  I have done that because rugby union is huge in New Zealand and South Africa, but in Australia it has to compete with rugby league and that sport where they wear those ridiculous shorts and vests.  To do that their union teams need to be strong and able to not just compete with their rivals from New Zealand and South Africa, but to beat them convincingly, regularly.

But they’re not.  It’s the IPL, exciting when the top teams play each other, and when the playoffs come around but yawn inducing for large stretches in between.  SANZAR have ruined it…


  • Wait until we get to call tries, the Vodacom Maximum!!

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The Super 14 had already diluted the power of the competition but adding in the Rebels has really just thrown out the balance completely. Add in the Kings next year, if they aren’t able to get any real big name players (and I doubt any player would sign for a team only guaranteed one year in the competition)and I think it’s going to feel even more watered down!!

  • Comment 1, posted at 11.05.12 15:25:09 by Butchie34 Reply
  • SANZAR has allowed News Corp to do to Super rugby what Hollywood execs do to really great movies – squeeze every last penny out of it by producing crappy and crappier sequels

  • Comment 2, posted at 11.05.12 15:27:57 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Bokhoring (Comment 2) : The next step is for the earpiece in a ref’s ear to go straight to the game director (like in the States) so that he can hold the scrum at pause until the commercials end!!

  • Comment 3, posted at 11.05.12 15:31:33 by Butchie34 Reply
  • Agreed 300 % . i also had that excitement in the old days when we suddenly played those international teams in provincial teams .. but yes .. things are not like they use to be . For the Cheetahs and the Lions i blame the Cats … but yea ..

  • Comment 4, posted at 11.05.12 15:32:40 by Zibbie Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner
  • @Butchie34 (Comment 1) : Haha, yes, and a Coca Cola super drop, and fireworks coming out of the poles after every penalty…

  • Comment 5, posted at 11.05.12 15:46:46 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • bloody nicely written piece this, Quirky… well done, son

  • Comment 6, posted at 11.05.12 17:10:23 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Zibbie (Comment 4) : the only time either side SMELLED the semis was as the Cats… under a decent coach

  • Comment 7, posted at 11.05.12 17:11:02 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : Unforunately for them that was as far as it went

  • Comment 8, posted at 11.05.12 17:14:57 by Die Kriek Reply

  • @Die Kriek (Comment 8) : well crap in my shoes, that’s a lot better than last place!

  • Comment 9, posted at 11.05.12 17:18:35 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Nice piece.

    Super Rugby is not super. If it wasn’t for the travel factor weighing against SA, Oz would be even worse off.

    Even SA has too many sides in the competition. Theoretically we have the talent, but the buying power of the big unions, and the pull of the Euro make it hard to keep the top okes.

    SA would do much better with a draft system, and excluding overseas-based players from Bok honours.

    On the IPL; its been very poor this year. Poor pitches and too much fascination with Ozzie players. And of course, the awful commercialisation.

    Would love to see some Pakistani players in there too – will help keep global cricket strong.

  • Comment 10, posted at 11.05.12 17:35:10 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • I still think every four years we should have a world club cup or however u want to call it where the best teams all over the world play a world would allow teams to play for top spots and become the worlds best team..

  • Comment 11, posted at 12.05.12 08:35:38 by shaniboi Reply

  • Christian Cullen`s explosive running, Joel Vidiri, Eroni Clarke and King Carlos for the Blues, heck even the Brumbies` relentless phase attack, brings back some great memories.

    Nice read thanx for this!

  • Comment 12, posted at 12.05.12 09:53:33 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) :

    I think it will work maybe for a season or 2 to do it again . after that Both unions will again loose players .

    And having to share the money will give both unions a great disadvantages over Unions such as the Bulls and the Sharks who do not have to share the money .

    Id rather have the Lions go and play in Europe then end up as the cats again . thats a total waist …

  • Comment 13, posted at 12.05.12 10:31:04 by Zibbie Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner
  • @Zibbie (Comment 13) :

    in 1997 , the Lions finished 5th on the super 12 log (Lions and Fs to separate teams , No WP /Stormers ) . in 1993 the Lions won the super 10 . So they where successful before forming the cats . and after that things all went down hill . i cant understand how people expected the Lions and the Cheetahs to stay successful while under the cats . staying competitive with teams like the bulles and the sharks was never going to happen

  • Comment 14, posted at 12.05.12 14:47:28 by Zibbie Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner

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