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Aisle be Back: A new Test season and last round of the NPC

Representative Rugby | 11 October 2018 | Kevin McCarthy

Aisle be Back: A new Test season and last round of the NPC

Proctor and Proctor. Lions captain Matt watches on as Billy takes on the defence against North Harbour recently. This 35-23 win could prove crucual with both teams sitting on 29 points in fourth on the NPC table

Still my beating heart. It now looks like the plan to create an annual super season for test rugby has real legs.

According to the Aussie Telegraph newspaper, and quoting World Rugby head Brent Gosper, it
would see the 12 top teams play each other once during the year, with a playoffs at the end.

Now if that sounds impractical (and you should never rule that out when it comes to World Rugby)
then bear in mind half the games would just be the usual Six Nations and Rugby Championship
clashes, and the rest largely the northbound and southbound touring windows that already exist.

Let’s not rush to condemn before there are hard details; I mean give it a week or two. There will be many devils in the detail.

But a couple of things in Gosper’s comments made me spit my cornflakes.

The first was that a by-product of the system would be the loss of test series. Teams would meeting each other once, that’s all there’d be time for. Oh well, too bad, it’s only a hundred years or so of rugby tradition but you won’t miss it after a while.

Hard on the heels of that, was his explanation that at least the new system would make games
“meaningful”. So don’t worry, that’s the other hundred years of tribalism and following your team,
and great rivalries dismissed. Because they aren’t that meaningful.


As obviously last week, for tens of thousands of Bok fans at Loftus, and for many more clutching the edge of their big screens, the deadest of dead rubber games was quite meaningless.

How much better would it have been if it was the southern super test division points qualifier
repecharge. Then it would have been meaningfully awesome.

No, as if you haven’t guessed, the idea is to create a meaningful broadcast package to flog off.

The bone is that it will prop up ailing Southern Hemisphere finances.

Hey, no doubt that’s an issue. But is a soulless new “championship” the answer? As I’ve said before, don’t worry, no-one is going to bother to ask you.


Some possibly obvious things from the cracking game at the weekend.

The Boks seem to be back but at least there’s no chance of being ambushed by them now and
there’s plenty of time to work out their game.

The All Blacks can’t rely on amazing rallies to dig themselves out of holes against the top sides.

We forget how often the McCaw era team had to do just that, and they made it an art form. But one ofthese days . . . 

The Northern Tour should and must give Richie Mo’unga a decent starting crack. It probably won’t
but Beauden Barrett is misfiring, and at some point, a changing of the guard has to be considered.


Nothing’s certain of course, and trust it to come down to the final round, but the Lions have a good shot at making the playoffs of the provincial premiership.

That’s of course if they put away a lamentable Taranaki tomorrow, and Auckland win the Battle of
the Bridge and shut down North Harbour’s bid for the playoffs.

On paper, both games should go the Lions’ way. We’ve all heard that before.

It’s certainly been a refreshingly lively championship, with all the premiership sides well able to tip
over the others, and the revival of Auckland is playing I think a big part in that.

Kevin is a lifetime Hurricanes fan. He and his partner are on a two-year Volunteer Service Abroad posting to Vanuatu's Espiritu Santo island. He's working on a project to build a South Pacific World War 2 museum on the site of an enormous Allied base on the island. Check it out at

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