Opinion: Rugby or cricket - what is our summer sport?

The Crusaders will be four rounds deep before we see test cricket in Christchurch this summer....
The Crusaders will be four rounds deep before we see test cricket in Christchurch this summer. Photo: Getty Images
It seems hard to fathom, but the Crusaders will play their first pre-season match tomorrow (Saturday) ahead of this year’s Super Rugby competition when they host the Hurricanes in Ashburton.

Yes, in an age of dwindling interest and crowd numbers, we will have even more over saturation to dig our teeth into when Super Rugby kicks off on January 31.

It would be nice to think our premier rugby competition is as relevant as it was in its early years, but with the Crusaders and Scott Roberston both being snubbed when it came to Halberg Award nominations, it’s clear the competition lacks reputation in the eyes of the bigwigs.

So why are we kicking things off when the summer is in its peak?

One month from now, six Super Rugby matches will have been played in New Zealand this year, while the Black Caps will have played zero tests on home soil.

Even more mind-boggling for the traditionalist who has the commonsense to recognise that rugby is a winter sport and cricket is played in the summer is the fact the Crusaders will have played four matches (more than a third of a Super 12 round-robin) before Hagley Oval hosts its first test of the summer.

Mitchell Drummond will captain the Crusaders second half team on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Mitchell Drummond will captain the Crusaders second half team on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Imagine cryogenically freezing a Crusaders Super 12 fan from 1996 and trying to explain that to them. That was the last time Super Rugby started in March – where it belongs.

They’d probably think (a) global warming has become so extreme we now play cricket in the winter, or (b) the Super competition has become so popular with game tickets selling out in minutes, leading to the competition starting in January due to consumer demand. Sadly, option A is closest to the truth.

The opening round of Super Rugby begins just 97 days after the final of the Mitre 10 Cup on October 26, and 90 days after the Rugby World Cup final on November 2.

It’s a slim off-season compared to the gap between the end of the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup and 2019 Super Rugby season of 111 days.

Do you feel like you’ve had enough of a break from rugby to fully enjoy the Super Rugby season? 

gordon.findlater@starmedia.kiwi

 

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