Support for shorter club format

Some things are just better in duplicate.

A double scoop. A double shot. A double rainbow.

But just maybe a double round in club rugby has had its time.

The world, and even rugby, had to adapt this year when Covid-19 arrived.

The premier grade had to be condensed into one round and a slightly extended playoff series.

The result was probably the most even competition in at least a decade. Any one of the top six teams could have won. And even Alhambra-Union, which missed out on the playoffs, can count itself unlucky.

The Broncos were just a couple of missed shots at goal away from cracking the top six.

Green Island was competitive and Zingari-Richmond had its moments as well.

The question is, if the tournament was so good, why just go back to the way it has always been done?

It appears there is some appetite for a permanent change to the format.

Taieri club captain Mike Casey told Rugby Chat that before Covid-19 he had no desire to see a round dropped.

"I tell you what, it [the one-round competition] was pretty good," he said.

"So I guess if you had one full round and still had quarterfinals, semifinals, finals — that would give you about 11 or 12 games if you make the final."

Casey said a 12-game season combined with a pre-season tournament of about four games would be quite compelling.

Dunedin club chairman Cam Burrow was also enthusiastic.

"Everyone has enjoyed it," he said, adding people were time-poor and a shorter season made sense from that perspective.

"When you are starting pre-season in January — that is a massive commitment. You’re committing half the year to rugby and, while we love the game, we are also doing a lot of other things as well.

"And from a club perspective as well, if it wasn’t for those two weeks when we couldn’t have more than 100 people in the bar ... our takings would have been close to on par with last year because everyone got in behind the club and made more of an effort to be at the club when you had those home games."

Casey agreed and noted the conditions of the grounds were better as well which helped facilitate an exciting brand of rugby.

"Overall, to have the right amount of games I think you have to start at finals day and include all the [Otago] players and work back from there."

Otago players were not available for the final and University was impacted more than Taieri.

The Eels were lucky enough to have the services of Matt Whaanga, and the big centre helped Taieri storm to a 33-0 lead and an eventual 40-26 win.

Taieri had set the benchmark all year and did beat University when it was at full strength earlier in the campaign. But ideally you would want the best players playing in the final.

The other possible development in the premier grade, which the Council of Rugby Clubs is looking at seriously,
is establishing a four-week Southern Cup which would involve Dunedin and Invercargill clubs.

That would help extend the season to 15 or 16 games, which is probably about optimal.

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