As a Raiders fan, the opening game of the season could not have provided more drama and edge-of-the-seat anticipation.
Soon after kickoff, it became quickly apparent that the Raiders had adopted a new, more flamboyant approach in attack, with Elliot Whitehead providing an additional attacking option on either side of the ruck.
There was Ricky on the sideline jumping with joy as his players, down on personnel because of injury, came from behind to defeat the Sharks.
And you can be guaranteed that many of the 16,000-plus at Canberra Stadium will be back for more.
The game was played with finals intensity and the drama of the Raiders game was replicated throughout the weekend in the opening round of the NRL.
Coverage of the game is everywhere. Raiders fans, for instance, would be well aware of practically every player in the rival team.
In contrast, while there was plenty to like about some of the football on the weekend in Super Rugby Pacific, including James Slipper’s pass to Tom Banks, some aspects left a lot to be desired as an entertaining product.
The Brumbies have an obvious intent to play attacking rugby, but the laws of the game at times are rugby’s own worst enemies.
A solution needs to be found for the continual resetting of scrums, which are a blight on rugby as far as entertainment is concerned.
There are also continual stoppages for minor injuries and players getting re-strapped.
Often, there is little flow. And I’m not the only one making this observation.
In writing this column, I canvassed the views of people who I knew were both Brumbies and Raiders fans.
While Brumbies fans are passionate about the team, there is a perception that something is lacking.
On the other hand, the NRL appears to be constantly looking at ways to make games quicker and more entertaining. The game rarely stops for an injury, unless it is for a head knock.
In Super Rugby, the sight of props going down on one knee seeking medical attention before scrums has become a blot on the game’s intensity.
NRL does also appear to have more autonomy in making rule changes. The result is an appealing spectacle.
But not everything is gloomy in the Super Rugby camp. Super Rugby has often presented exhilarating, attacking rugby, which is hard to match as a spectacle. It’s just that injury and player infringement stoppages, along with copious resetting of scrums, deflate the excitement and intensity of the game.
But the game can be thrilling. The Six Nations competition is an excellent advertisement for the rugby code. The France versus Ireland and the England versus Ireland games were outstanding.
Why can’t it be replicated in Super Rugby? Sure the lack of crowds does little to create a gladiatorial atmosphere, but they will return if teams and the code have an attacking mindset and somehow the rules of the game are followed and injury stoppages don’t dominate the flow of play.
Original Article published by Tim Gavel on Riotact.