This headline caught my eye this morning:
Mainly because tours are a good thing. And the New Zealand Māori touring the country or even overseas would be "good for the game".
The deal was rejected because the NZRU didn't want outside managerial control of the team. And I don't really care about that. What I care about was a throw away line in the article:
Last year the NZRU, worried about worsening global economic conditions, decided to sideline the Maori, Heartland 15 and Black Ferns programmes - saving $1 million.
I knew the first two had been cut (and I was unhappy about it) but the Black Ferns? Our most successful rugby team ever!? Surely I had missed the press release. So I searched for "black ferns" in the NZRU release and admist the:
and other victories and team announcements, nothing.
At time of writing nobody has got back to me from the NZRU answering my questions, so I'm just going to assume it's true, hence, they can eat a bag of dicks. (I will rescind said bag should it turn out to be false and thanks to Richard Irvine for introducing me to the phrase).
Ok, now to the tournament you've been waiting for since the rugby season ended those many sports-void months ago: The Super (really fucking amazing) 14.
Actually it should probably be renamed "The Super 5, the 6 or so others that show flashes of brilliance and the 3 who just make up the numbers".
All the safe-bets are in with the TAB and the Crusaders seem to be the favourites, in New Zealand at least. This is despite the fact that God-like wundercoach Robbie Deans is plying his awesomeness overseas leaving the team to Todd Blackadder.
The Highlanders are overwhelmingly the optimistic favourite. The story for the last month is how good they are feeling about the upcoming tournament. Whether anyone will show up to watch is another matter entirely.
The Chiefs are raring to go. This is good. They still have Sione Lauaki. This is also good. Lauaki tends to play well at Super 14 level thus fooling All Black selectors into thinking he is a very talented player and not actually a bumbling fool. The Chiefs will fade down the stretch though, or whenever it is they start their South African trip (week 10).
And what is there to say about the Hurricanes? They will look incredibly good, have a win/loss record higher than 0.500 and make the play-offs before destroying the hopes of all of their supporters. Because that's what they do, they use you and then spit you out like garbage. God, why don't they love us and much as we love them! Ahem.
And finally the Blues. I have to careful what I say here because the boss likes this rag-tag bunch of misfits. I believe the last time the Dropkicks talked about the Blues with Russell he had a rum-based realisation that Pat Lam was going to be the coach and that might backfire. But really, seriously, don't be surprised if the Blues are in the final. They are that kind of team.
As for the foreigners, well I see Australia dominating the bottom of the table while South Africans get two teams (Sharks and Bulls) through to the play-offs.