It was reasonably predictable that the All Blacks would romp home in the third Test against Wales, as there are not many teams previously who have pushed them in the last match of the June window.
But you do feel some sympathy for Wales. The average rugby fan in New Zealand won’t understand, but these guys have had 14 months of rugby and their minds are going to be in the south of France or Portugal and going away somewhere to lie in the sun. They were at the end of it and the series was over after it was 2-0; they had checked out. Having said that, I think some of those Welsh players can really put their hand up. They came down and played some good rugby. I liked the look of Liam Williams, half-back Rhys Webb and No. 8 Toby Faletau.
It was interesting to note that talk of the global season re-emerged in the wake of the series, but it’s my belief there are too many agendas for it to ever happen.
Jamie Roberts Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
If it is to ever succeed, there has got to be a brains trust, spearheaded by World Rugby, put together to come up with the right outcome. The problem is that any system is going to involve some give and take, but too many people don’t want to give. And that is where it breaks down: People are looking after their own interests. Added to that, the game is very much a business now too; so that is something else that has to be factored in.
From a New Zealand perspective, New Zealand Rugby has a stance that you can’t play for the All Blacks if you play outside New Zealand. That could be one of the gives from New Zealand if they want to move towards a global season.
Everyone is looking after their own interests — and rightfully so — but if we truly want to talk a global season we need to be able give away some of our negotiation to gain the greater good of what a global season could look like.
Liam Williams Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images
England and France will have to do the same.
It all starts from getting a blank piece of paper, starting right at the top and saying: “This is what it could look like.” It would then need to work through the second and third tiers and sort out all the hurdles that will have to be jumped and the hoops that will have to be gone through.
Unless there is an agreed outcome that everyone wants, we don’t know where we’re heading. And unfortunately Super Rugby is a great example of what can happen when you do that.
We’re following our nose throwing another team in here or there, and we just keep doing what we’ve always done and expanding with no clearly defined outcome of what it is going to look like in five or 10 years’ time. That’s the trap we don’t want to fall into when looking at a global season. It’s a hard one; a real beast.
And with all that in mind this week, it’s a funny old season when we talk All Blacks, Wales, June Test window and then we say: “Right, now it’s back to Super Rugby.” We then try to pick up where we left off, and Super Rugby clearly illustrates what I’ve just been talking about: it’s a complete mishmash at the moment, which gets repeated in the northern hemisphere in November.
It’s a funny feeling. You feel like Super Rugby was pushed to one side and you get your main course, and now it is back to the entrée.
The Crusaders and Chiefs will contest Fiji’s first ever Super Rugby match on Friday. Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images
For those who were involved with the All Blacks — and the Wallabies and the Springboks – they now have to turn around in the space of a week and go up against the blokes who were their team-mates.
Which brings me to a unique fixture: the first Super Rugby fixture played in Fiji.
I think what the Chiefs have set out to try and do by playing one of their home games in Fiji this weekend is something quite special. Following on from what the All Blacks did in Samoa last year by taking Super Rugby to Fiji is great for the game.
We all know how passionate Polynesian people are about rugby, and to have them see some of their own heroes playing in those teams will be great.
On one hand we talk about the globalisation of rugby and the money spin-offs and all the rest of it, but then you have got to look at the lower tier of countries such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and you see the crumbs they’re served up and how they fit into it the whole setup.
When we talk about a global season, quite often the small guys are overlooked.
However, I think it is a good thing the Chiefs and Crusaders are doing — particularly as it adds extra travel and different conditions into their seasons.
And it needs to be kept in mind that these guys aren’t going to be on the beach sipping pina coladas. They’re going to be training and rugby will be at the forefront of their minds. Yes, they will have some fun and they’ll be entertained and looked after while they’re there. But when you’re in a rugby team and playing professional sports in these exotic places, you actually spend more time on the training field and analysing the opposition and getting your space on playing rather than enjoying the surroundings.
Nemani Nadolo Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images
Quite often you’re more focused on the sport and you don’t get the relaxation people think you do.
We shouldn’t forget it is also a top-of-the-table clash, and it will be interesting to see how quickly these guys adapt. They don’t want to get caught up in playing an entertaining style of rugby — a bit like a festival-type display. They’ve got to get straight back to what they’ve been doing all year and quickly get back to where they were before the June break.
Westpac Stadium in Wellington might not be so exotic for the Hurricanes and the Blues, but it will be interesting to see how some of the All Blacks get involved back in the Blues environment. The Blues haven’t had a lot of All Blacks in the past 10 years, so it is really important for them to go back and lead and take back what they have learned out of that Test environment because that’s what the Crusaders and the Chiefs have been doing for years.
They’ve got their senior players, or more experienced All Blacks, and it is invaluable for them to take their knowledge back into the franchise. It sets standards.
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/16572751/global-rugby-season-require-nations-give-take-craig-dowd-writes
Dowd: Global season only possible through give, and take
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