Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World



Billy Twelvetrees: 'Ed started pre-season with us and and nine months on he’s really struggling. Jesus Christ.'

The former England and Lions centre, leaves Kingsholm a legend after over a decade's service, and in that time he has matured into a man

RugbyPass+ Home

Ardie would have played if the Hurricanes had something to play for

By Ben Smith
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes looks on during the round seven Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on April 08, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The battle between the third-placed Hurricanes and table-topping Chiefs was diminished by three things.


The weather first and foremost, the absence of some big name All Blacks, but most importantly the lack of consequences.

Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett were rested as per the All Black resting policy, while the Chiefs were at full-strength leading to a one-sided contest, by Kiwi derby standards.

The Chiefs built a 17-0 lead in torrential conditions that was never likely to be overcome by a Hurricanes side missing their two best players.

But the sad thing is, if those two All Blacks had played, the result really wouldn’t have mattered all that much and that is the bigger problem.

There is essentially nothing at stake in regular season clashes with eight play-off spots in a 12-team competition.

Yes, there is jostling for home-field advantage but that incentive is nothing like do-or-die contests where a team’s season is on the line.


If the competition had just four play-off positions, where good teams miss out, there is no doubt that Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett would have been on the field in Hamilton to play the Chiefs.

That loss would have had real consequences with the Hurricanes now in fifth position looking on the outside-in.

The contest with the Blues next week, who occupy the spot above them, would already have play-off intensity.

Instead, the result doesn’t really matter because both sides know there are no consequences of losing with play-offs assured.


Only four play-off positions would mean the Crusaders, Brumbies, Blues and Hurricanes would still be chasing qualification with the risk of missing out still very real with two rounds to play.

In trying to sell extra play-off fixtures to broadcasters, they have failed to realise how much they have killed interest in the 15 week regular season.

The journey is just as important as the destination but Super Rugby Pacific’s Oprah-style playoff system kills any sense of tension.

The competition sleep walks to the play-offs, and because there are a bunch of miserable teams being handed tickets to compete, lacks credibility.

The teams that are supposedly ‘fighting for their seasons’ at the bottom of the ladder are so bad it is like asking a boxer who has already been KO’d to keep getting up to fight another round.

Talk of the Highlanders needing to rally to make the eight after a pathetic season with four wins and eight losses is hard to stomach.

We already know they are awful. They don’t deserve to be anywhere near the play-offs. If they get there, they are going to sent packing immediately. They don’t deserve another week on TV. Get them out of here.

In order to restore the competition’s integrity there needs to be lightening-rod change initiated to reduce the play-offs to four spots.

The regular season has to mean something. The bar has been set so low that teams are being rewarded for being abominable.

The competition needs high-stakes regular season games to become an elite sporting competition and product, and the only way to get that is to raise the bar.

Take some icing off the top and beef up the cake please, and maybe you’ll find more fans want to eat it.


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
RUGBYPASS+ Billy Twelvetrees: 'Ed started pre-season with us and and nine months on he’s really struggling. Jesus Christ.' Billy Twelvetrees: 'Ed started pre-season with us and and nine months on he’s really struggling. Jesus Christ.'