16 March 2022

After only one round of the NRL it’s easy to see that Super Rugby needs to lift its game

| Tim Gavel
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Raiders first game of the season against the Sharks at Canberra Stadium

The Raiders’ first game of the season against the Sharks at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

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.

READ MORE Does anybody know the Super Rugby season has started?

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 versus Waratahs

The Brumbies versus Waratahs game at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

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.

READ MORE Raiders legends to inspire 2022 team as club enters its 40th season

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.

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For the older rugby tragics (>34) it’s the noise, do we really need inane voices screaming at us to fire up, then some hip-hop/rap bursts to get us out of our seats and ready to run on and show them how it’s done. Or was done, last century?

I’m pretty sure the Six Nations games don’t rely on the same gormless entertainment that’s thrust on us.

It’s about transferring from the Saturday arvy club game with a sausage sandwich, a can of beer and a bunch of mates enjoying a game a couple of notches above our best, to the next level where we can see a team in a name we recognise but the players we don’t, they’re mostly from somewhere else. Sixty five bucks a ticket, Uber to and from Bruce, something to snack on and a couple of beverages and you can say goodbye to around a hundred and fifty a head.

You are correct Tim, try as we may to enjoy the Brums and whoever dares to take them on, it’s like reading a book, chapter by chapter. We know there’s a stoppage coming up and it gives us a chance to maybe analyse the game so far, but the reject karaoke compere from the Royal Hotel Nimmitabel is screaming at us. Doof doofff.

Nah, it’s watching the Owls at Uni North Oval or the Whites at Campese then heading out for dinner, maybe in a place where there’s a screen somewhere showing the game at Bruce.

Deep down we love the Brums.

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