It was good to see Auckland Rugby record their 3rd win in as many games. Considering their player base, they have underperformed since they last won the provincial championship in 2007.
However I found it difficult to understand why two players, who had not played club rugby in Auckland, took the field (for Auckland) against Waikato as replacements, with 20 minutes to play.
What message does this send to all the 1st 5s and locks playing their hearts out in the Auckland Club competition?
Why would Harry Plumber and Jack Whetton be dragged off for an English player contracted to Wasps and a Canadian player, both in NZ to grow their rugby?
At our players’ expense, I say.
Not only does it remove the incentive for two more Auckland Club players, but it undermines the fundamental club competition as a pathway to professional rugby.
I have also witnessed this in South Africa. In most provinces in the Republic, they have ruined the relevance of the club competition and reduced their talent pool. This is one of the principle reasons they currently lack the depth to be competitive in Super Rugby.
Every High Performance Players Course at IRANZ discovers an unknown club player who goes on to play provincial or super rugby within 12 months.
And there is a classic example of an unknown club player starting for the All Blacks this weekend. His name is Karl Tu’inukuafe.