There’s been a lot of talk lately about the best way forward for Australian rugby teams in terms of a Trans-Tasman competition, given that early results in this year’s tournament have been eerily akin to watching a silverback gorilla repeatedly slamming a chihuahua’s head in a car door.
The question of how to maintain strong Trans-Tasman competition while avoiding chronic depression among Australian players is a vexed one, but I think I have come up with an elegant solution. Here then is my model for a new Trans-Tasman Super Rugby premiership, hopefully to begin in 2022, if I get approval from RA and Alan Jones.
The structure is fairly simple: the competition will be made up of the five currently existing Australian teams, and the five current New Zealand teams. But there will be some tweaks to the rules regarding team rosters:
- Australian clubs will have a maximum of 45 players on their books at any one time, while New Zealand teams will be allowed up to 17.
- Australian clubs will be allowed up to five New Zealand players on their roster. New Zealand clubs can likewise have five Australian players in their teams, but only in the event of a serious breach of the rules that would merit such a serious punishment.
The on-field rules will be adjusted slightly as well: whereas in the past yellow cards were shown to players who committed acts of dangerous play, in the new competition each NZ team will have to nominate three players to receive automatic yellow cards before the game. This will mean they start the game with only 12 players, which will assist in the cause of equalisation.
By the same token, any Australian player shown a yellow card will not be sent from the field, but will be required to think very hard about what he’s done. If an Australian player receives a red card, he will be allowed to stay on the field, but will have to wear a special red shirt so everyone knows he’s been bad.
If a New Zealand player receives a red card, he will be required to sign with an Australian team.
The draw will remain basically as it is now, except that Australian teams will play each other four times every year, and play each New Zealand team only once, if they feel up to it. A win will be worth four points, but a win by an Australian team over a New Zealand team will be worth 12. A win by a New Zealand team over an Australian one will be, as it is now, worthless.
All games will be played at Concord Oval.
So as not to exhaust Australian players unnecessarily, all games will be 30 minutes long, except for games between New Zealand teams, which will be 180 minutes long and played on cement.
The finals format will be streamlined: the top four Australian teams will play each other, and whichever one comes out on top will play the fifth-placed New Zealand team for the right to play in the grand final, which the top-ranked New Zealand team must decipher a series of cryptic clues to discover the time and location of. If the fifth-ranked New Zealand team defeats the top-ranked Australian team, the grand final will be cancelled due to coronavirus.
Obviously not everyone will be on board with this format, so I have devised an alternative system, whereby the New Zealand teams play among themselves to determine the champion in that country, while the Australian teams go out for pizza and ice cream and try to feel good about themselves.
Either way, you know?