When the final whistle blew time on Saturday, it blew the chances of the Waratahs to break ‘the Streak’. The winning sequence of matches by New Zealand teams over their Australian Super Rugby conference neighbours.
‘The Streak’ currently stands at 38 games unbroken. That is over 100 weeks of waiting. Over 700 days since the last victory – but Aussie teams have more chances of breaking that streak in the next few weeks.
With the reduced Australian-based teams in the conference though, it reflects teams which Rugby Australia considers the strongest. Yet the Waratahs are becoming a side who are daunted by the prospect. In the Australian media, it is being referred to as the ‘Kiwi Curse’. While that is an embellishment, the facts are only going to get worse the longer that it takes any Australian Super Rugby conference team to defeat an New Zealand (NZ) side.
Australian Super Rugby Conference have more chances to break ‘the Streak’
The schedule over the next month will produce more chances to break the streak. Beginning this weekend, a run of consecutive weekends is the time for that to [possibly] happen. The Waratahs, in fact, have the most chances with three;
- Crusaders v Waratahs – AMI Stadium, Saturday May 12
- Hurricanes v Reds – Westpac Stadium. Friday may 18
- Waratahs v Highlanders – Allianz Stadium, Saturday May 19
- Chiefs v Waratahs – Waikato Stadium, Saturday May 26
- Reds v Highlanders – Suncorp Stadium, Sat May 26
The numbers read: NZ games = 3; Aus games 2. That is before the rest window for the June Internationals but in all reality, plenty of opportunity.
For the Waratahs and also for the Reds (two matches), it must be seen as an opportunity rather than an insurmountable challenge. Positive thinking and aiming for a target that once achieved, will release an enormous amount of pressure. Pressure that seems to have been building since the 2015 Rugby World Cup final; NZLvAUS.
Less success in Super Rugby since then, few successes in the International theater – a pressure bubble has built. 38 games without a single win. A blockage of huge proportions. And it must be burst.
Can it be done?….that is another question
Even the most one-eyed Kiwi supporter will admit it is going to happen. The odds must favour an Australian Super Rugby conference team sooner rather than later. A group that now also includes the Sunwolves.
Incidentally, the ‘Wolves have a win over the Blues to dangle in the faces of the Aussie sides – so there is ‘no looking down the noses’ at Japanese Rugby. And while it is an issue that is very difficult to understand, let alone diagnose some relief for, it is an Australian rugby arthritis which is hindering the entire system [it seems].
Nevertheless, it will happen. Whether through pure luck, chance or just the conditions. For example, the game against the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium – it could be played in a rain storm. Bernard Foley could kick the home side to victory – so the odds of a win are not out of the question.
And the Australian national players know as much as anyone else, when facing the All Blacks three times every year, how hard it is to break a record. They have beaten them and at times are likely to beat the New Zealand World Champions again. Yet it must be done consistently to then put Australian Super Rugby conference teams into a more positive head space.
The game is both physical and mental. If you have any conscious lack of confidence, then it is ten times harder.
Do the Australian Super Rugby conference teams believe they can win?
Only they can tell you that. Michael Hooper, the Wallabies and Waratahs captain still holds a belief. “It a big narrative, we can only control what we’re doing and the other teams are probably going to say the same thing,” Hooper said on Saturday.
“We’ve got another three games against these guys, three good cracks, and we’re going to focus week to week.
“This one hurts, it is disappointing but we’ve got to go again.”
For the other franchises, the other players and especially their supporters, they will be torn. Many believe, yet some will be doubting it. And it is that lack of 100% support that is always going to be difficult (in a large country of 24 million plus people).
Many ideas to winning – sometimes, it just takes time
Ideas for success have been thrown around. They range from alterations to the conference, a reduction in franchises – that brought players inward to bolster the remaining teams.
Then, this week reports have been widely spread of ‘importing talent’. Of either by request, or through offering high values to entice players. While it might sound far fetched, it is an industrious solution.
— Super Rugby Fans (@SuperRugbyFans) May 9, 2018
But that type of reasoning could result in two outcomes. The results are realised. Wins begin, and possibly become habitual. But, it could also create internal and external disruptions to support and existing relationships. Fans could be disillusioned, neighbouring countries/SANZAAR partners might be alienated (or feel their resources are being negated).
It is up to the sides themselves. The ACT Brumbies, the Melbourne Rebels, the Reds and the Waratahs.
Chance is a funny thing though. The ‘lucky country’ had periods of long droughts before – both figuratively and in sporting terms. But like in 1986 when the Wallabies beat the All Blacks on Eden Park – every dog has it’s day!
The Waratahs face the Crusaders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch this Saturday, 5:00pm (NZT)
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images