OPINION: The New Zealand Rugby Union must be extremely pleased this morning.
Not from anything that happened in Brisbane, of course, but the fact Waikato and Canterbury made the ITM Cup premiership final.
They will be pleased because Canterbury, defending three-time champions, get into the final on the back of their bonus-point haul.
Never mind the fact they won fewer games than Taranaki, because winning doesn't count when it comes to the NZRU - it's all about entertainment.
As long as you throw the ball around and keep their paymasters happy at Sky Television, results don't really count.
Bonus points have been a bugbear of many a weekend.
There are simple reasons behind it, the most obvious being they do not provide equality. How can a team playing on a wet and windy day be on the same level as one playing miles away on a dry surface?
There are just too many variables for the system to be fair, especially when you have such a compacted playing schedule that has one team playing three games in six days while another plays once in a week.
The bonus-point system also does not cater for the ridiculous or the incompetent.
Remember the try awarded to Waikato in the last minute of the match by the television match official?
Thanks to that, and the fact that Auckland could not hold out in the 84th minute, Taranaki's chances of making their first ever national championship final were extinguished. Not that Waikato don't deserve to be there. They do. My gripe is with Canterbury making it on the back of their superior tryscoring abilities.
Just because you score more tries than another team does not make that team better than their opposition.
How do you think Sir Alex Ferguson would react if the Football Association suddenly revealed they were offering up a bonus point for a side scoring three goals in the English premiership?
Sport is more than just entertainment, not that the boffins at NZRU HQ would know that.
Taranaki have paid the price for not scoring enough tries. Never mind the fact they have one of the best scrums and the most effective lineout (usually). That counts for diddly when it comes to dishing out bonus points.
While the NZRU are at it, why don't they come up with additional bonus points for having the nicest looking cheerleaders, or the most acrobatic mascot, because that's all entertainment as well.
Speaking of entertainment, Sky Television cheapened mine with their decision not to take comments man Justin Marshall to Brisbane. While he does tend to get overly excited and can match motor mouth Radio Sport jock Tony Veitch for the speed of his tongue, Marshall still provides the most accurate and quick analysis of a test.
His replacement, former super boot Grant Fox, was good, and usually always is, but it would have been nice to see Marshall on the sidelines instead of Ian Smith.
The former New Zealand wicketkeeper spends more time trying to convince the audience that he knows something about rugby, he forgets he is there to ask questions, not make statement after statement.
The next time you are listening to one of his interviews, and I use that term loosely, take note of how many times the subject is forced to say "yes" or "yeah" after Smith has stopped bleating.
We're all getting a bit tired of Grant Nisbett's biased views, as well.
While I've got plenty of respect for the veteran broadcaster, he is doing himself a disservice by the way he has developed a close love affair with all things All Black.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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