At long last NZ Rugby has the opportunity to showcase our game under our terms.
There’s a long-held belief that the Northern Hemisphere is reluctant to allow the game to open up and be played at real speed because they would struggle to compete.
Recent rule variations like lowering the tackle angle and preventing the ball carrier from holding the ball on the ground increase the speed of the game. Offloading and support play in the tackle now demand even greater athleticism, technique and strategic thinking. There’s even more rhythm and flow which the online world will devour.
Super Rugby Aotearoa is the beginning of the next level of rugby entertainment for coaches, players and spectators. Sure, there was a lot of whistle as our referees emphasised the tackle-ball rule, but we were still privileged to observe the beginnings of something special. The Chiefs held an edge in fluidity in the first half, with one try from a scrum passing through 10 pairs of hands. I was delighted to see the Highlands adapt to this new horizon as the game wore on. What a finish. The Hurricanes/ Blues encounter continued the momentum with both teams scoring three tries, providing a packed Eden Park with a taste they will want more of.
These changes place even more emphasis on the providers of highly specific coaching and development. The IRANZ programme has been on this road for 20 years now and this next level of rugby excites me. There is nowhere to hide; teams and players will be exposed if they are not up to it. There will be more demand and need for quality coaching and strategic thinking.
To support this, we recently launched “IRANZ Live” for coaches. IRANZ Live is facilitated by Wayne Smith, Colin Cooper and Brian Ashton and features some of the best positional thinkers in the world with Mike Cron doing the front row, Chris Jack the locks, George Whitelock the loosies, George Gregan and Andrew Mehrtens the halves. Ma’a Nonu is back for the midfield and Jeff Wilson the back three.
Don’t get left behind.