If there is a growing feeling across the northern rugby landscape that too many New Zealanders hold professorships in self-righteousness and wear their learning loudly enough to blow Led Zeppelin clean off the decibel chart, it must also be acknowledged that they know a thing or two about the game.
Super Rugby Aotearoa is so damned hot, the paying public could toast themselves on it – no mean feat in the depths of a Kiwi winter. Last weekend’s meeting between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes in Christchurch was molten.
It may be that the pandemic-driven domestic tournament currently unfolding in All Black country in front of socially-mixed crowds running into the tens of thousands, rather than socially distanced individuals measured in dribs and drabs, is the most compelling piece of club/provincial/regional business since the Heineken Cup was in its pomp a decade or so ago.
There are a number of reasons behind its success, with the novelty factor an obvious starting point. Those of us denied our sporting fix by this wretched virus would have been captivated by anyone and anything. A 50-phase goal-line siege at Exeter? Bliss. A slug-fest hackathon from the lower reaches of the French league? Heaven. We might even, in extremis, have enjoyed a game involving Leicester.
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August 02, 2020