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The predictability problem with Super Rugby Pacific

SUPERRUGBY PACIFIC BOAT

How many of you tipsters went six-for-six in week one of Super Rugby Pacific?

And are there any of you now worried about blemishing your perfect record in week two?

As I cast my eye towards the, ironically-named, Super Round at AAMI Park, there aren’t too many clashes causing me sleepless nights.

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Particularly given I’ve got Covid again, which makes staying awake harder than falling asleep.

But I digress.

The one tipping dilemma I have this week is wondering who’s worse out of the Rebels and Force.

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Home advantage isn’t a factor, given the Rebels have no following and are marked for extinction, while the Force failed to fire a shot against the Hurricanes.

Beyond that game, though, I see clear winners in every other clash in Melbourne this weekend.

Assuming you did go six-for-six last week, how many games did you regard as having been a contest?

The Chiefs’ win over the Crusaders was hard-fought and in the balance for all 80 minutes but and then what?

Moana Pasifika put in a manful effort against the Highlanders and the Waratahs competed with the Reds for a while, but the results never really appeared to be in doubt.

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Put simply, the teams that should’ve won in week one did and, as far as I can tell, will continue doing so until the end of the season.

It’d be a shame to have all that rugby and end up where the competition started (and finished a year ago), with the Chiefs playing the Crusaders in Hamilton again.

But that’s where we are. Resigned to having probably already had a preview of this year’s final.

That’s not to say I wasn’t entertained at times, during week one. Or that there definitely won’t be an upset in the 14 weeks of regular-season footy that follow.

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It’s just that, to be a real competition, you have to have competitiveness. Otherwise you’re simply playing exhibition games.

When you get past the sabbaticals and the retirements and all the elite All Blacks who are not playing in Super Rugby Pacific for whatever reason, this is my actual problem with the competition.

We have two good teams, a couple of useful ones and the rest.

Regardless of changes of personnel or seasons, the outcomes seem to stay the same.

What’s Super about that?

Unless you have a huge emotional investment in your particular team – or rugby as a whole – what’s your incentive to watch?

I’ll put it to you a different way.

I know few people who had any intention of watching the recent test cricket series between Australia and the West Indies, mostly because of the assumption that it wouldn’t be a contest.

Well, you wouldn’t believe how many closet Caribbean cricket fans emerged after the West Indies won the final test in Brisbane. People were compelled to tune in because of the way the West Indies competed.

India is leading England 3-1 in a test series at the moment. That looks decisive on paper, but it’s been great viewing because the matches themselves have been contests.

I don’t want to see the Chiefs or Crusaders weakened but, for Super Rugby Pacific to endure, things have to be done to strengthen the other teams.

Drafts, transfers, salary caps, whatever. We can’t let teams languish and disincentivize fans from watching.

It really shouldn’t be that hard to cobble together 12 competitive and profitable teams from countries with our playing, coaching and financial resources.

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