Jack Tame: Super Rugby's the winner on the day

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 24 Apr 2021, 10:02AM
The Chiefs celebrate Damian McKenzie's game-winning penalty. Photo / Getty
The Chiefs celebrate Damian McKenzie's game-winning penalty. Photo / Getty

Jack Tame: Super Rugby's the winner on the day

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 24 Apr 2021, 10:02AM

It was the 81st minute. A dewy-looking night in the ‘Tron and the Chiefs were behind by one point. They had posession at about halfway. The Hurricanes defended desperately. Penalty Chiefs. One last play. One last kick. 45 metres. A game of Super Rugby to be decided by Damien McKenzie’s boot. 

If you were watching last night or listening to Nige... you’ll know what happened next. McKenzie did his trade mark little set up. He leaned forward, gave that slow turned-up little grin. He stepped up, and he slotted it. You didn’t need to wait for touch judges to lift their flags... the crowd told you everything you needed to know. Damien McKenzie slotted it. The Chiefs, at home, were victorious.

It’s hard to keep up, but by my count it was at least the fourth or fifth time in the last few weeks where a Super Rugby game was decided in the last seconds of the game. A fortnight ago we had two golden-point deciders in one weekend, including another Damien McKenzie clutch play. Last weekend, the Crusaders went down to the Chiefs in the narrowest fashion – it was anyone’s game until the final whistle. Maybe with one or two exceptions, you feel at this stage of the competition that almost any of the five teams could quite reasonably be expected to beat any of the other five teams.

And I just want to pause and acknowledge how refreshing that is. I often start my show on Saturday mornings by having a big whinge or a bleat about something, and we in the media spend heaps of time beating up on aspects of professional sport. So here I am. Mr Positivity. I think Super Rugby Aotearoa is once again proving itself to be a really refreshing, engaging, and exciting competition. 

The contests are tight. It’s stylish, attractive rugby... and best of all... there are only two games every weekend!

It makes an interesting little study in contrast to consider  Super Rugby Aotearoa competition and this week’s disastrous proposed Super League for European Football. Sometimes the best product, at least from a fan’s perspective, is not the format or competition that is going to make the most money.

Who knows what we’ll go back to at the end of the pandemic. It’s great to think we might have a proper Pacific team, but there will be all sorts of financial incentives I’m sure to have teams jetting off everywhere. Beats me what the future of the game is in Australia.

But as the Rugby Players Union and New Zealand Rugby continue to duke it out over the proposed Silver Lake private equity deal, I just think there are some basic lessons from Super Rugby Aotearoa that are worth keeping in mind in the future. For starters, less is more! I don’t want to be bombarded by games and teams with players I’ve never heard of. The Super Rugby Aotearoa format actually makes for a better competition than any other Super Rugby competition in years. You feel connected to the teams. It mightn’t be worth nearly as much money. But as a fan, come kickoff, I for one feel much more inclined to turn on the TV.

Last night after Damien McKenzie slotted the winner, he was swamped by his teammates, and his captain Brad Webber was interviewed on the sideline about the last second win. 

“We’ve gotta stop doing that.” He said, smiling. “It’s not good for my heart!” he said. 

Maybe not. But it’s gotta be good for the game.

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