Thursday, 25 September 2014

ITM Cup - how it should be.


For a number of years now the existing ITM Cup format has been in place, and by and large most folks think it works.  I don't.

Playing in the top level in this country is about being the best and to be the best you have to perform to the highest level in every game.  Sure you're not going to win every game but there is the capacity in any competition for that to happen.  Ideally the team that performs the best over a season takes the plaudits, look at how the EPL is structured.  So why have finals rugby in a winner takes all competition?

And further more why have two separate competitions?  For the uninitiated there are 14 teams in the ITM Cup, 7 in the Premiership (top tier) and 7 in the Championship (second tier)  Each team in each competition plays each other once and to add flavour to the mix there are four crossover games between each competition.  Confused?

Well it gets better.  After round robin play, the top four teams in each competition play semifinals amongst each other, the winners going to a final.  In the Championship there is an added bonus for the winner, promoted to the Premiership.  Yes that means four teams have a chance of being promoted, seemingly regardless of their position in the top four, and as has happened, the team that was the form team through round robin can miss promotion through upset results.  Of course the same happens in the Premiership without the carrot of promotion.

So what is wrong with this format?  Well I like the EPL format.  All 14 teams in the ITM Cup should
be playing to finish top of the table and win the competition.  Some (NZRU for one) complain to do this the season would be extended.  Bollocks I say.  By my calculations if all teams played each other once a season, the season proper would need just one more week!!  Not too much to ask surely?

As an added bonus, (yup NPC days) the bottom team in this format gets to play for promotion/relegation with the Heartland Rugby Comp champ with the winner playing their next season in ITM Cup.

If the current format stands, which no doubt it will, then the winner in round robin in Championship should get automatic promotion with the last placegetter in the Premiership being demoted.  I can't see why not. Simple really.

I sense many agree with this.  I'd like to see my team play ALL the teams in the competition and as it stands I don't.  The Turbos this year didn't play Canterbury, Taranaki, and Tasman, the top three teams in the Premiership.  How much good rugby did we miss out on?

Finals Rugby in ITM Cup is a wrought.  It's not a cash cow for the NZRU and it's only followed by the teams involved supporters.  Get those three extra games and the income is greater surely?

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