NZ Rugby World December 2020 - January 2021

New Zealand Rugby World is the premier authority on our national game; with sharp analysis and irreverent humour the two key components. In both style and content the writing is award winning and provides an unparalleled depth of insight into the people who play the game and the issues that matter to the fans. The cast of contributors is world class as is the photography and lay-out. Pick this magazine up and you won't want to put it down - rugby has never been so much fun.

New Zealand
Dark Horse Collective Ltd
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min
editor’s letter

NOW WE HAVE REACHED THE END OF 2020, it’s hard to know quite how to feel after a year like not other. Probably, the strongest emotion, should be gratitude. Look around the world and we can say with some certainty that New Zealand was one of the best places on the planet to be. And if we want to get specific about rugby, then it was absolutely the best place on the planet to be. When the rest of he world was licked up, we had Super Rugby Aotearoa at full roar. When the rest of the world was looking at their balance sheets and wondering how months of restrictions on social gatherings were going to impact them, we had full stadia. It wasn’t such a bad year. When the pandemic hit and the country…

11 min
rugby reborn

In early November, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson was predicting his organisation would lose about $40m in 2020. Revenue, he said, was about 36 per cent down and despite drastic cost-cutting measures that saw almost half the governing body's workforce made redundant and heavy pay cuts imposed on players, the losses were still substantial. There it was – the impact of Covid-19 laid out in bleak terms and reason to believe that 2020 had been an utter disaster for the professional game in this country. But arguably that's not the truth. There is an alternative one that says the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns were a giant blessing. Covid brought the chance to re-set and start again. New Zealand's professional rugby market wasn't out of control before the virus hit, but it was…

3 min
2020 players of the year

RICHIE MO'UNGA If we jump to June then we can hand on heart say it was they year of Mo'unga. He was the best player in Super Rugby Aotearoa. Yes, he was helped by another dominant campaign by his forwards who made sure he mostly played on the front foot. But he capitalised on every inch of space they made for him and his capacity for individual brilliance was endless. And for the first time in his three years in test football, we saw him carry that magic into the All Blacks. He was more composed and confident than he'd previously been in his 23-point haul in Sydney was the defining performance of the year. JORDIE BARRETT Life hasn't always been easy for Jordie Barrett. He's been prone to making mistakes on the back of his…

5 min
emerging players who impressed

TUPOU VAA’I Of course Tupou Vaa'i impressed because in February when Super Rugby kicked off he wasn't part of it. The 20-year-old was at that point doing some labouring work with his dad. Four months later when Super Rugby Aotearoa emerged out of the lockdown, the Chiefs had an injury crisis at lock and so called up Vaa'i. They had to start him such was their lack of resource and a few weeks later they wanted to start him such was his impact. By the last few weeks he was on the All Blacks radar and when he played well in the inter-Island fixture he was in and started against the Wallabies at Eden Park where he held his own. Quiet and calm, composed and mature, this young man was a natural who coped with…

3 min
worst decisions

REJECTING PASIFIKA In July, New Zealand Rugby were adamant a Pasifika team would be entering Super Rugby. Top priority they said and long overdue. And yet by late September there was an announcement that a Pasifika team wouldn't be coming into Super Rugby in 2021 but might be in 2022. NZR reckoned that none of the potential candidates had enough financial backing or ability to pull together a competitive playing roster. It was a shocking decision that outraged legends of the game such as Sir Michael Jones and Sir Bryan Williams who were both supporting the Pasifika Moana outfit. They disputed that the rejection on both counts. “We have done our sums for 2021 and we know how much it is going to cost and we know we can do that- break even in year…

3 min
four best ideas

Bringing Back Afternoon Kick-Off s For how long have people been begging for the occasional afternoon kick-off be it for Super Rugby or even a test? Well, we can't be sure but we would say at least 20 years. It's been a perennial sore point for fans and players that so much rugby is played at night, in the dark, when the cold is kicking in and the dew settling. Everyone gets that it's the preferred time for broadcasting games but no one has ever agreed that all professional rugby should be played at that time. There have been occasions, especially in mid-winter in the South Island, when it has been mad to bask in glorious sunshine and 16 degree temperatures during the day, only to play the test in almost sub-zero temperatures with…