Improved, and it is bound to be – in the second season of the reduced competition. So, here it is; Super Rugby 2019 the improved edition.
To reinforce this factor, the players will need to be on form from the get-go. And if that is tonight [7:35pm in Hamilton, New Zealand] then performances and match standards will prove any early doubters wrong.
A spectacular beginning is ‘what the doctor ordered’ and the first round is likely to be evidence of that. Big scores, plenty of fast-paced action as teams look to play the ball on the hard, fast grounds.
1⃣ DAY TO GO! The return of #SuperRugby is almost here…
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) February 13, 2019
Round One will be the Super Rugby barometer
Even though those doubters were quietened in 2018, Super Rugby 2019 has to be a bigger, brighter edition, to sell that fact to more than current fans. It must attract back some who fell ‘out of love’ with the product from Sanzaar in recent years.
Some rugby fans found that ‘too much choice’ was just not choice. The expansion defeated its own goals. Quantity over quality was ill-fated, although the expanded regions have been sustained over the last three seasons. And when the Jaguares went on a six game winning streak in 2018, it reinforced that South America was worthy of retention.
Winning back viewers on television is only one element. It should also be tangible at the rugby ground. The numbers paying to see the competition will add to the tangible experience. Camera shots showing big crowds is what is needed too.
And looking at the numbers who attended the preseason double-header matches in Cape Town, South African fans cannot wait for Super Rugby 2019. They packed out the stadium, with high expectations of improved performances from their four franchises.
The performances of every franchise will be evaluated, examined, and all the sides results have to prove positive reinforcement of changes and improvements made to the current edition.
Here it is: Super Rugby 2019 the improved edition
Last year was a good example. Overall, the reaction was positive. In favour of the new format – one that saw three teams culled from the 2017 model. And it worked better, it ran well and this year’s calendar is even better.
With no interruption from the June Internationals – due to the reduced schedules for national teams in a World Cup year – for the first time in years, the competition runs from February to July, uninterrupted.
This is one of the major improvements over previous seasons.
That is a huge bonus. And it will bring real continuity, to a season where the standout players of 2018; Aphiwe Dyantyi, Joaquin Tuculet and Ben Lam, will all need to work just as hard to impress, as much as they did last year.
Super Rugby deserves superstars. And like in every season, new players will emerge. And teams will aim to high, motivating their team members to reach the highest level. Challenges from their opposition, as much as from the reward of national team selection, is what will drive players of their calibre. Performing to impress for their franchise. Impress the fans, as well as impressing the coaches.
The real test of the Super Rugby 2019 edition, is how much influence that national teams’ head coaches RWC planning may have on their squad members.
World Cup Year has to respect Super Rugby
A question that Last Word on Rugby has for 2019, is whether the external demands on some players might affect their participation, and their motivation. The ‘RWC cycle’ has played a part in the past; recall the rest and rotation policies of 2007, although LWOS contributor Melita Martorana has confidence that teams like the All Blacks will show respect.
She says “the All Blacks goals will have little interference in any of the Super Rugby 2019 franchise teams campaign. It is very clear in the wider, elite player relationships that Super Rugby coaches have, involves a measure of self control and the freedom to use and experiment with players, as they fit in order to give their club a winning status.
“However, All Blacks coaches have always follow a predetermined, sit and watch plan during all previous Super Rugby seasons. This continual monitoring allows them to check on players within the All Blacks radar. As part of the selection programme; tailored by Steven Hansen, the selection panel provide feedback to players through their franchise coaching staff.
“I am sure in 2019 we won’t see the likes of Rieko Ioane or Jordie Barrett in the midfield. Those experiments, times where they were used out of their ideal positions, is less likely this season”. Martorana, like all rugby fans, believes that separation is a positive.
Obviously, they may want to assemble the players for short, foundation camps (as occurred in 2018). Designed to impact as little as possible, Martorana concludes “the ABs coaches have been very clear over the past three seasons, about who they want, where the team is heading. It’s now in the Super coaches’ hand to remember that they have the tools at their disposal – provided those players meet conditioning and performance measures”.
Expect opposition coaches to do the same, with every qualified nation wanting to be best prepared.
With such high expectations in 2019, the Super Rugby season may be the best build-up possible, for all conference partners. Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan, can all design plans to support and then follow on from the Southern Hemisphere competition.
And if the improved model performs, if fans flock to attend and to watch the Super Rugby 2019 edition, then it will be a vastly superior product, that should best prepare the nations involved, ahead of a end of year prize.
Super Rugby 2019 draw – Round One
Friday February 15 – Chiefs v Highlanders | Brumbies v Rebels
Saturday Feb 16 – Blues v Crusaders | Waratahs v Hurricanes | Sunwolves v Sharks | Bulls v Stormers | Jaguares v Lions
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images