OPINION: The early signals for the next phase of Super Rugby expansion defy logic.
We wait with interest for more details from the governing body Sanzar as to the tournament structure but there is nothing to justify a sixth South African team and the addition of an Argentine side makes for a logistical nightmare in a tournament where travel has always been seen as a major handicap.
First of all, the South Africans. Having taken the wooden spoon in 13 of the 18 years Super Rugby has existed, South Africa has no right to another team.
Already their talent depth has proved to be too shallow with five teams. Adding another will only stretch that further.
And let's not forget that the Springboks continue to rely heavily on selecting players who ply their trade offshore, collecting big money contracts in Britain, France and Japan.
We will expect the Southern Kings to return to the mix in 2016. They finished last in their one-off season last year only to be replaced by the Lions who have had a long history of struggles. Nothing will change there.
I'm not against Argentina involvement in Super Rugby. If they are to expand, I like the idea of bringing in new territories.
Rather than 17 teams, I believe a Super 18 might be a better way to go and if we are going to hold out a helping hand to Argentina, then perhaps we should have offered them two teams.
It would make a lot more sense for teams to travel to Argentina for a couple of fixtures rather than just a one-off match which will carry huge expense.
This competition now stretches right across the bottom of the globe and there are going to be some massive air points collected.
There's also going to be a big fatigue factor for the Argentina side. The South African teams have long lamented the amount of travel they have had to put up with, taking on teams either side of the Tasman. The Argentine side will have more on their plate than that.
But in essence it's good to have the South Americans involved in terms of the international game.
They will benefit hugely if they can manage to get more of their top players involved in a competitive local team rather than relying on European clubs.
The knock-on effect from this should ultimately be a more competitive Pumas team in test rugby and that can only be good for rugby overall.
But I still feel sorry for Pacific Island rugby. Once again they have been overlooked when they contribute so much to the game in our region. I've been vocal about this in the past and remain adamant they deserve involvement in some way. I'm sure they would be a TV drawcard in terms of people wanting to watch an island side.
As for our own neck of the woods, what an interesting start to the 2014 New Zealand conference on Friday night when the Crusaders and Chiefs renewed their rivalry.
This was a case of the champion Chiefs simply picking up where they left off, though that almost defied belief. If you looked at the match before it started and the teams on paper, there's no way the Chiefs should have won.
How many Chiefs players would make it into the Crusaders team? Maybe Brodie Retallick, though he would battle for a starting position given the Crusaders' locking stocks. Liam Messam would be in the back row mix and Aaron Cruden, Mils Muliaina and Robbie Fruean could make the backline mix. But that's about it.
The Crusaders had a bench loaded with talent and the home advantage for a big occasion. Everything pointed to them winning, yet once the teams took the field the Chiefs always looked most likely to get the result.
It's hard to explain the success of the Chiefs but it is absolutely magic and what a great way to start a new season on the back of two successive titles.
The Crusaders have the structures and set-piece dominance but the Chiefs find ways to win. They are the ultimate team in that they make the most of their resources, squeezing everything out of their players with their heart a huge factor. Again, so much of that comes down to coaching. They have the best coaches in the competition and right now that's a massive ingredient.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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