So I was wrong on my score prediction of the Crusaders-Chiefs semi-final but this was a game the Crusaders should have won- and back in the 2000s they would have won. But that was then and this team is not the team that was. Carter is himself not the consistent player he has been and a sabbatical is actually the last thing he may actually need. He is sluggish in decision making, becoming predictable and able to be out-smarted by opposing coaches. He does not have the same quality of players around him as in the ABs so lacks the support and cover.
In short, the crusaders need 2 new half backs and a new second five, a new hooker and a new blind side/no8 who is not a whitelock.
We also know the Crusaders backs are not the consistent force they need to be, but even more worrying was the way the Crusaders forwards were effectively beaten-up by the Chiefs.
Liam Messum is not as good a player as he is made to look by the Chiefs and he is very one-dimensional. but he has been exceptionally coached and in Craig Clark the Chiefs had their version of Reuben Thorne; the gutsy, hardworking, do the basics exceptionally well and lead in a way all will follow player central to any successful team.
In considering the Crusaders it is evident that this is a very solid, capable team but it is starting to have a bit of the Nonu factor is that all the All-Blacks in it really seem to need the AB environment to play their best.
This is a worrying trend in NZ Rugby whereby the ABs are now effectively playing a different style and type of game to that played and experienced at super rugby level.
The ABs in super rugby are having to constantly adjust to a different level and type of game, and this is not helped by the break in super rugby caused by the mid-year tour.
The most concerning thing about the season for the NZRFU must be the failure to attract big crowds. The discretionary dollar has many more options today and the number of games over a drawn out season, too many night games, cold weather, coupled with too many second-rate teams is turning people off. The NZRFU needs to realise that 12,000-15000 is what they need to expect to almost every game- and if that is not enough to break even then they cannot blame the fans. Is super rugby too expensive for a small nation? Is it too expensive when too many games are played, too many night games, too many indifferent games.
When a reported 3000 can turn up to the Christchurch club rugby final played in the afternoon, but only 15,000 turn up to a super rugby playoff then questions need to be raised as to how meaningful is super rugby to many people.
Remember the huge crowds for Ranfurly shield matches back in the 1980s. We cannot expect to return to those crowds because such games were rare and meaningful. Scarcity is a value in sport- too much and it becomes mundane.
So now we turn to the ITM cup- and what do we see- far too many night games. Turning rugby into a nocturnal activity may please the broadcasters but it is killing the game. Too much rugby makes it it mundane- and makes it easy for the population to become indifferent.