Taranaki coach Neil Barnes hadn’t even heard about the scrapping of promotion/relegation in this year’s NPC when Stuff initially rang for his thoughts on Tuesday afternoon.
Given half an hour to digest the news as he trudged off the training paddock, Barnes wasn’t about to hide his frustrations when he picked up a second time.
In fact, the experienced mentor, who, in his first-year in charge of the Bulls, has his side sitting top of the Championship and the only unbeaten team in the entire competition (five wins from five) teed off big-time at New Zealand Rugby’s “ridiculous decision”.
“Bitterly disappointed for not just us, but every team in the Championship,” he said. “We’re playing a season for nothing.”
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In NZR’s press release on the revised competition structure, general manager of community rugby, Steve Lancaster said:
“It wasn’t an easy decision to remove promotion and relegation, we realise this is disappointing for some teams but with the Auckland region unable to compete, we needed to ensure the competition outcomes are as fair as possible.”
Auckland sit at the bottom of the Premiership ladder, with six points from two games, but Barnes could see no reason why the next worst team in the top flight couldn’t end up as the one relegated.
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“Doesn’t it strike you as rather unusual that the Welligtons and Waikatos and Aucklands think it’s not fair, that that carries weight. But if a Manawatū or a Taranaki say it’s not fair, it doesn’t matter a s…
“It’s a squeaky door syndrome, it’s not fair to them, but what about the teams trying to come up?
“To say it’s not fair is a disgraceful thing to say. It’s got no respect for the Championship teams and it’s not fair on us that we have to have another year down where we are.
“We could quite conceivably beat every Premiership team and still be stuck in that competition for another year, without the ability to promote our province and promote our players and earn money. That’s apparently ok.
“I spoke to my guy who does our promotions and tries to earn sponsorship money. It’s massive. He looked like he’d just been shot.
“So it’s a massive letdown for everyone.
“We understand there’s challenges out there at the moment and it’s not fair for everyone. But I’m trying to understand why the differences in decision making between the Farah Palmer Cup and the men’s competition.
“They had promotion/relegation, they’re exactly the same as us, they’ve got teams that have had to be pulled out.”
In a week where Barnes is already down eight players to injury and is dealing with what he feels is another ridiculous scenario with the logistical headache of having to prepare to play Waikato on Saturday in either Hamilton or Tauranga, pending alert level announcements, he has also blasted the current “flawed” and “not fit for purpose” NPC format, calling on a change to one where all 14 sides can win one top prize and one where fans would be motivated to watch.
“Why don’t New Zealand Rugby pull their head out of the sand and create a fair competition?
“So far this year, Taranaki have beaten every Premiership team that we’ve played.
“Four years ago Wellington were easily the best team, but they were in the Championship, the best they could do was finish eighth. Last year, Hawke’s Bay were the best team in the country, and they could easily have won the whole thing. What a ridiculous competition.
“You’ve only got to use your brain a little bit.
“They could actually seed the whole competition one to 14. Put all the odd numbers down one side, all the even numbers down the other. You do exactly what we do now – everyone plays everyone on their side, plus crossover games. Then the top two go straight to a semifinal. The second and third teams on both sides would play quarterfinals to see who else was going to the semis. And then you play your final. Then every team in the competition could win. How difficult would that be?
“Last year I wanted to propose that competition and was told that were looking to cut costs and they were looking to have a north-south competition, then at the last minute they pulled out of what they proposing to do and went back to it again. Fricking hell.
“What do they see in this two-tiered competition that is positive? Why are they persisting with it?”
Meanwhile, Manawatū, who sit well clear in second spot in the Championship, have no concerns with how the rest of the season will play out.
Chief executive Andrea Jackson said coach Peter Russell wouldn’t comment but offered this statement to Stuff:
“While disappointing not to be playing for promotion we are in unchartered territory and feel privileged to even be playing rugby at this time.
“This season we still have lots to play for and are determined to put mana in our jersey. The removal of promotion would not diminish the pride and value of winning a title for this region, just like our Cyclones team.”
This article first show on www.stuff.co.nz Source link Author AARON GOILE on date 2021-10-12 03:17:11