Grit your teeth lads . . . there are no prizes for second

JOHN ALEXANDER
Last updated 07:12 04/10/2012

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As I have said before, I don't agree with the current ITM Cup rugby competition format.

It's too compressed and dumbs down the most important competition in New Zealand rugby, just to accommodate Super rugby, the cash cow of our national game.

However, I do applaud the attitude of two coaches in the competition who have not complained about it, accepted it for what it is and got on with the job.

Not surprisingly, their teams are doing very well. I'm talking about Tabai Matson from Canterbury and Otago's Tony Brown.

Anyone who has played sport at any level will tell you that attitude is everything to compete successfully, and the attitude of Matson and Brown has obviously rubbed off on their teams.

Canterbury are well on course to host a semifinal and likewise Otago, an impressive outfit guided by coach Brown and his assistant Phil Young who have harnessed mostly home-grown talent.

Canterbury are in the middle of their second three-matches-in-a-week stint and Matson is not complaining. "It's all about your mindset towards it and we are going to rip into it. It is difficult when you have one training a week but then your off-field innovations become the key.

"There are different ways for players to absorb information than just running around, so you just have to be solution focused," said Matson in a Rugby Heaven article this week.

Brown had a similar attitude. He has no issues with the format and is dealing with the cards he has been dealt, saying, "it is what it is".

Maybe it's the fact the players have to take more responsibility for their own preparation as coaches don't have the same time to prepare their charges with such a congested format.

Contrast the attitude of Black Caps' cricket coach Mike Hesson. He came out criticising the super-over format used in the current World T20 competition to decide tied matches.

Let's face it, the Black Caps couldn't win a meat raffle if they took all the tickets at present and Hesson's comments smack of sour grapes.

T20 cricket is all about instant gratification and excitment and there's plenty of excitment watching a match decided in this manner. Perhaps if the New Zealand batsman had managed to chase down a mediocre target without needing the super over and if Tim Southee had not bowled a no-ball which was whacked for six, Hesson might not be complaining.

Deciding matches in sudden death fashion is now all part of the excitement. Look at the drama associated with football matches being decided by penalty shootouts. While it might be heartbreaking for the losing camp, it's great sporting theatre and at least gives a result.

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Hockey's new penalty shootout innovation, where players must dribble the ball into the circle before taking a shot, has allowed goalies more of a chance to make a save.

What about Europe's Ryder Cup golf win on Monday? A never say-die attitude and wonderful camaraderie saw one of the great sporting comebacks as Europe clawed back a 6-10 deficit and quietened the Yanks.

That's what is so great about sport. It is unpredictable. No matter what the odds in sporting codes across the globe, there is always room for an upset or a great comeback.

- The Marlborough Express

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