Background Buzz – a closer look at just how much trouble rugby union in the southern hemisphere is in – 24 May 2023



Okay sports fans, on “Background Buzz” today I take a closer look at just how much trouble rugby union in the southern hemisphere is in.

This after off-duty Sky Sport commentator and former All Black star, Justin Marshall revealed that he was so frustrated by the lop-sided contest between his old team, the Crusaders and the winless Moana Pasifika last Friday night, that he switched channels to watch rugby league.

“Look, I will throw it out there, I stopped watching the Crusaders,” Marshall said on a SENZ sport radio show.

“Once they pulled out by 20-odd points, or whatever, I switched over to see what rugby league game was on.”

Marshall’s frank admission follows the scathing assessment that was made about the state of the game by former All Blacks, Black Ferns Head Coach and New Zealand Coach of the Year, Wayne Smith earlier this month.

Speaking on a New Zealand Rugby-backed podcast, Smith said he could no longer bear to watch a game between the Highlanders and Western Force in Perth because he was so frustrated by the rules, and the fact that driving mauls are still allowed to be a part of a team’s attacking arsenal.

During his assessment of the sport earlier this month, Smith said he has no problems with the quality of the players, but that he was “getting frustrated with the game”.

“I watched the game the other day between the Highlanders and the Force, and the Ref had his arm out the whole time. Every single play, there’s an advantage,’’ Smith said.

“Then, you know, we’re going to go seven, eight phases and if it goes nowhere, we’re going to come back and it’s going to be a penalty.

“Then, 30 seconds to kick the ball and another 40 seconds for the lineout to happen. It’s going to be a drive that’s going to collapse, and It’s going to be an arm coming out.

“It’s going to come back to another penalty. Kick to touch, another drive. Then a yellow card comes out because they do it again.”

And you wonder why rugby fans are not turning up to Super Rugby Pacific games in New Zealand and Australia and switching channels to watch rugby league?

As I have stated before, who wants to watch an 80-minute game of rugby where the ball is actually alive and in play on average only around 24 minutes?

My other pet peeve is kicking penalties to touch for a lineout followed by a driving maul for a try – BORING!

Like what I said yesterday about the red card in 7s rugby, World Rugby must get smarter around kicking penalties to touch and driving mauls for tries.

Onto the Super Rugby Pacific competition itself, where the Brumbies gifted the Western Force a 34-19 win last week.

Consider this – the Western Force snapped a 14-game losing streak against the Brumbies – the triumph their first since 2013.

And it only happened because the Brumbies were missing no less than eight Wallabies as part of Rugby Australia’s World Cup resting policy.

Fielding instead a team of “little puppies” to quote Western Force Hooker, Folau Fainga’a who said the mass changes allowed the Brumbies “big dogs” to rest at home and get their necks massaged.

The Force raced out to a 21-0 lead within inside 25 minutes, then eased off before going on to secure the win, ensuring they ended the round in eighth spot, ahead of the Highlanders.

Who knows – was their collusion between these Aussie franchises? Was Rugby Australia in on it – who knows?

Okay, the Fijian Drua didn’t help themselves losing to the Force earlier in Perth – but that was always a tough road trip, especially when you’ve flown in from Fiji to Sydney then across Australia in one day to play on Friday.

So with two more rounds to go it’s all bunched up: with the Reds on 7th on 23 points, Western Force are 8th on 22 points, the Highlanders are 9th on 19 points, the Fijian Drua are 10th on 17 points and the Rebels 11th on 16 points.

Key must-win games in Round 13 this weekend, on Friday:
· The Highlanders host the Reds
· The Rebels host the Force
· The Fijian Drua host Moana Pasifika in Lautoka on Saturday

Whoever you support, boy its gonna be close!

And that’s a wrap!

For I’m Culden Kamea – please hit the like and subscribe buttons below if you want to receive more Pasifika sports highlights on Breakfast Bites.

Mahalo, vina’a and tank you all too mass for all your love and support.

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