Swys weary of whinging Kiwis

Brenden Nel

Cue the trumpets, because it’s that time of year again. No I’m not referring to the heart-stopping, bone-crunching action of the Vodacom Super Rugby playoff rounds, its whinging season again in KiwiLand.

Those of us who still love the odd bit of footy will recall how, in recent years when Super Rugby rolls around, we see the same headlines about the same issues from the same country.

The competition is “unfair”, it is a “flawed system” and it should be changed to favour New Zealand teams more.  You could almost set your calendar reminder by it.

Before I continue, it is worth saying that the average New Zealand fan loves good rugby, a healthy debate and is willing to accept that not everything in the world needs to favour the All Blacks. Competition is good, especially healthy competition. And yes, the current format of Super Rugby is heavily flawed, making most of us yearn back to the days of 12 or 14 teams, where the Bulls (at least) could field a team worthy of winning the competition.

Instead, what has the conference system brought us? Lop-sided knockout rounds where a team like the Brumbies can make the playoffs by finishing top of the Aussie conference, yet nowhere near the log points of the others (as was the case last year).

So it isn’t perfect, but has Super Rugby ever been? It has always favoured the five New Zealand franchises, whose centralised contracting system has allowed them to use the competition to build the All Blacks into a brand that is virtually unbeatable.

That, in itself should be applauded. But it beggars belief that the greatest beneficiaries from the Southern Hemisphere competition have become the biggest whingers when it comes to the tournament format.

Already we have heard this year how the format is “unfair” to New Zealand teams – their CEO Steve Tew said as much. We’ve heard players and journalists lambast the system, and cry wails of terror about how they were being hard-done by, just as the organisers were trying to keep the competition alive in other territories.

But strangely enough, I never heard one Kiwi talk about how “unfair” the system was of SA teams travelling for four weeks to Australasia, as opposed to the two weeks teams from that part of the world spend in SA, during the first two decades of the competition. It was a case of “just get on with it” and no tears of sorrow for the inevitable poor results in weeks three and four of the tour.

Now that the competition is “unfair” to the Kiwis, we all have to scramble to fix it. Forgive me for uttering a loud, bah-humbug to all that.

And it doesn’t stop there. Last year at this stage there was the deliberate targeting of international referee Jaco Peyper ahead of the final, a claim of bias made unfairly against one of the world’s top whistleblowers. In the end the moment of madness by Kwagga Smith settled the final, and the Kiwis were happy.

Before that, we saw one of New Zealand’s premier newspapers – the same one that dresses opposition international coaches in clown suits in their print edition – come out and say it would be “unfair” and “tragic” if the Lions won the competition.

Why? Because the format meant they didn’t play New Zealand opposition. Never mind that in 2017 they were a standout team – they didn’t fall in with the Kiwi whinging tune and that was it.

Consider this from that publication in 2017: “With all due respect to the Lions, who play a nice brand of football and aren’t a bad team at all, it will be ridiculous, bordering on wrong, should they end up being crowned Super Rugby champions in 2017.

“For the good of Super Rugby – Southern Hemisphere rugby – the Lions can’t become champions this year. It will turn a comedy into a tragedy.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Often on the TV show “The Breakdown” we hear former All Blacks lament the Lions cause, that they simply “cannot win” the competition. The argument is never made on the strength of rugby, but on the bias that New Zealand needs to dominate everything.

So, this week, when Swys de Bruin let rip about the “moaning” of Kiwis during Super Rugby, he had a point. There’s just too much of it at this time of year.

“That’s their perception,” he said. “All I can tell you is that we never moan about travelling four weeks [to New Zealand and Australia] or blaming that. We travel four weeks and they travel two. It makes a hell of a difference. Look at our results week three and four overseas.”

“I think it’s a case of they [should] just get on with the job,” he said. “We’re a no-moan team. I’m almost feeling sorry that I said it now because it sounds like I’m moaning. But sport is an interesting thing – it can’t always be the ref, this, that or the competition format or injuries [harming you]. You’ve got to play the hand that was dealt to you.”

Over the next two weeks we’ll probably see an over-reaction to De Bruin’s comments, aggrieving the Kiwis even more. But one thing is sure, somewhere in the next fortnight Super Rugby will see a lot of moaning. And you don’t have to guess which part of the world it will come from.

- Brenden Nel

Let's chat

  • katman

    Spot-on by Swys de Bruin at the end there. There’s a time and place for a whinge, if you really have a case. But if you do it all the time you just flush your credibility down the loo.

  • Derik

    GREAT ARTICLE! I hope NZ Herald, Stuff.co.nz and the like publish it.

  • Morne

    You all can say whatever you feel with a little hint of being a little sour, that our rugby is in the state it is in. Mr. Nel you were just a little tad on the defensive side in your column. No need to get all defensive . Yes ,get on with it…How many teams do we have in a play off ?
    I do agree with them . And yes , I am a true Bulls supporter who at least had a taste of the cup on 3 occasions…The Lions definitely DO NOT deserve a semi-final at home with those log points!!!!!!! Not one of our sides deserved it this year. The poor Highlanders with more points than our top side had to be punished back at home. How about the EURO soccer format? Guess who would’ve won the cup already then ?Now , at least a SA team gets a ply off ,so according to me , yes, SA is still favoured here sir

    • Juan

      Why not just support any SA team that actually makes it to the knockout rounds? You sound like a typical Bull just because of your we actually tasted comment. You are only as good as your last game in modern sports and the Bulls ended dead last.

    • Dean

      Stupid comment. Why would you not be proud of the only South African representative team still in the running to win the competition? I’m backing the Lions and I hope they win the competition. It will benefit our rugby as a whole. It would be great to see them win, against all odds, after 3 years of doing serious work on the field and behind the scenes.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Morne it helps if you get your facts straight. The Lions finished on 46 points as against the Highlanders 44 and fourth on a true log. The Lions in fact finished only 5 points behind the second placed Hurricanes and three behind the Chiefs and you say they don’t deserve to be there ? That’s only a one match swing over 16 games and what with the current interpretation of rules etc that is nothing.

      When the competition starts you chart your way forward and it’s the same rules for everyone. Hypothetically if the Lions needed more points to stay in contention for a home semi do you not think they would maybe have tackled some later games differently ? The Sharks game comes to mind, lol. Looking at the logs now in retrospect and all the factors that played a part in the final placings you take the rough with the smooth and move on. If consistency is factored in over the past three years then the Lions definitely deserve a home semi on Saturday. You should be praising them not judging them old chap. Cheers.

    • Dr Hoffman

      Go play with yourself morne, they do deserve it u mofo! , just because your rubbish team finished rock bottom! go cry somewhere and dont watch the game. pathetic comment!!!

  • Graeme

    Great article Brenden. We should leave Super Rugby and move to Europe. Don’t have to listen to this anymore if we do.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Kudos to you Mr Nel for telling it like it is. If anyone really wants to get upset then go to Stuff NZ for their take on Swys’ comments, it’s truly frightening. I’ve spent most of my afternoon calling out some of those guys. More help needed, lol. Cheers.

  • Jon Byrne Jon

    The comments on NZ stuff are ridiculous and uncalled for, geez even bringing apartheid into it! Lets pray the Hurricanes win and the Lions get the home final and stomp the Hurricanes, can you imagine the backlash? Kiwis would go in to a complete meltdown! Cheers to the Lions

  • Barry Smith

    The intensity of the whinging from New Zealand this year is a fair bit up from previous. It kind of suggests that their is a greater concern that things are not quite going all their way this year!
    Waratahs were disallowed a victory against Crusaders at home similarly Sharks against Hurricanes – there are cracks and they have not gone unnoticed!
    Similarly in SA there is significant discontent or is it disinterest in Super Rugby, such that we must surely see SA exit the competition after the final season of the contract next year??

  • Chris Koch

    Can anyone explain to me how the Kiwi’s built their contracting system using the SR competition ?
    How were SA and Aus. unions not able to do the same ?

  • Nick

    Swys is a gent. He doesn’t engage with the toss that gets spewed out from the above named ‘sports journalists’ and their adherents.

    Forget about their opinions for now and let’s focus on the waratahs. The only way to shut them all up is to beat them.

  • Nick

    I’m sure any genuine rugby supporter in new Zealand would feel embarrassed by what their biggest newspaper has written.

    • SweetAz

      No mate, I live in NZ and the average fan is not very bright, its like the only thing the guy has in his life that he can somehow buy into is NZ rugby. They are about as parochial as the hillbilly’s in Deliverance, no matter how shit his job, his life, his wife and even his poor kaalvoet klonkie kids are, –as long as the All Blacks and his franchise are winning everything “she’s all good mate”.
      He doesn’t care how much they have to cheat or how much everything must be in their favour, believe me to this day THEY STILL actually believe there was a “Suzy” and their team was poisoned and Louis Luyt bought the ref a gold watch as his reward for rigging the game. It doesn’t matter that anybody who has ever actually HAD food poisoning will tell them its impossible to play 80 minutes of top rugby with extra time while suffering food poisoning. To them THAT only proves just what supermen the AB’s are. Trying to debate or argue with them is an exercise in futility, its like trying to debate a halfwit or your retarded 9 year old cousin,–its a waste of time so I don’t know why Hermie bothers. Believe me be, I’m sure there are some intelligent, rational ones amongst them but they are a bit like unicorns. The comment sections are pretty representative,—these are the kind of people who take chainsaws and cowbells to rugby matches.
      And there you thought vuvusela’s were bad.

  • Siya Meleni

    I just wish all SA Franchises should leave This Super Rugby and Join Europe Leagues. And leave NZ n AUS to play Those tonga n fiji teams.

  • Ryan

    I’m a hardcore Bull…..and I hope the Lions stick it to these Pratts. The super rugby formats will always be heavily flawed considering the geographical locations, which just highlights exactly how good the Bulls were. Nonetheless, go out there and nail these antipodeans good and proper. Good luck ?!

  • Wesley

    If the NZers want to moan, let them. Steve Tew must please dig his union in deeper. And then let us leave SR for Europe and see NZ rugby take a nosedive. It is well known SA rugby and our television rights is keeping them afloat. They dont have the numbers and although their stands have more bums in the seats by the look of it, we know the gate takings doesnt pay the bills. They should hang on for dear life and be grateful we havent jumped ship yet. We will one day, for a possible better outcome. I would rather take that gamble as sucking up to NZ that frankly doesnt pull their weight financially. Yes the players are the best to come up against but if the money dries up they wont keep their stars anymore. Pride in the jersey doesnt make you money. Just ask Charles Piatau.

    • Jon Byrne Jon Byrne

      Well said Lesley,

      Getting sick of this constant moaning from their side! Without our participation’s the competition is dead, Who they gona play? The pacific teams? Please they’ll beg us to stay, there would be nothing left for them, no money, no players and no competition! Good Luck to them when South Africa pull out from a system that’s clearly designed for their rugby and no one else’s!

      • Wesley

        Agreed Jon. I was actually damn dissapointed years ago when England and France were having a spat with the European league and we didnt join up with them. There were the rumours and it got me excited. Everyone i spoke to then about my excitement thought i was nuts. Most likely contractually it was impossible to break away then, but this was before the previous renewals 2015/2016? and the subsequent failures that were to come. Oh how the chickens have come home to roost. Its rather a chummy partnering why we still keep with NZ and Aus i think. More to do with personal relations than financial and business wellbeing. I think most of our rugby is run by this mentality too so im not suprised at our lacking ability to make good descisions.

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