Rugby Rave: Jim Tucker's weekly wrap-up

Thu, 25/02/2021, 11:05 pm
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
Super Rugby records extend well beyond the professional era | Getty Images

Apologies from all those diehard rugby fans who missed the memo that all provincial representative rugby before 1996 no longer exists in the record books.

Rugby commentators have seemingly made a definitive leap to recognise only scoring landmarks, try feats and appearance records from the professional era.

New rugby broadcasters Stan Sport have done a commendable and high-energy job of re-packaging Super Rugby for more viewers on TV but for this curious stance on records.

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The Queensland Reds’ massive 41-7 win over the NSW Waratahs in Round One was presented instantly as a “record winning score” and the “biggest win.” The regular clarification “in Super Rugby’s professional era” had been discarded.

It wasn’t just crusty old-timers doing a double take.

Had Queensland’s epic 42-4 and 48-10 victories over NSW in the 1970s suddenly been airbrushed from history and all those other landmarks since the states first played against each other in 1882?

More importantly, what exactly constitutes the “Super Rugby era” now that the southern hemisphere’s elite competition has been played in so many variations?

We’ve had 12 teams, 18 teams, the Sunwolves conceding 45 points per game in 2017 and now play Australian-only and New Zealand-only competitions.

“Records” have become a convenience to capture only those created in matches played since the start of professionalism with Super 12 in 1996.

It’s a dilution of history like State of Origin in rugby league which dictates, for record purposes, that no Queensland-NSW match seemingly existed before 1980.

Friends of the late sports author Jack Pollard will know how strongly he campaigned, unsuccessfully, for World Series Cricket records from the 1970s to be recognised in first class cricket records.

They never have. It means Greg Chappell’s 1415 peerless WSC runs, including centuries against fearsome West Indian pacemen like Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, and Michael Holding don’t get counted anywhere.

The bruises certainly were. There’s less and less reason why rugby going professional and SANZAR’s birth should be the arbitrary line in history where “Super Rugby” records begin.

Super 6 (1992) and Super 10 (1993-94-95) were played under the banner of Super Rugby when the code was amateur.

It was 1993 when provincial teams from South Africa were first ushered in so maybe it’s just those three seasons from 1993-95 that should be included in updated records.

What difference would it make? Well, it would catapult Waratahs legend Matt Burke from 959 points into the “1000-point Club” as a Super Rugby player because he played those 1993-94-95 years in Super 10.

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It would add a try to Tim Horan’s tally, another 50 points to the scoring record of John Eales and give a points boost to Kiwi Andrew Mehrtens.

The great Michael Lynagh doesn’t even exist as a “Super Rugby player” under the definition forced upon us. His 1994 climax was one of the great individual displays of provincial history as he nursed the Reds to the Super 10 crown in hostile Durban after both Horan and Jason Little had gone down with major knee injuries.

Someone in rugby’s hierarchy needs to put some thought to capturing those early Super 10 feats in the records.

The record of a Wallaby in 1995 is no less than one of 1996.

One of rugby’s most endearing and magnetic features is the game’s history so don’t rush too quickly to erase it.

The Reds take on the Rebels on Friday February 26 at Suncorp Stadium, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, LIVE on Stan Sport.  Click here to purchase tickets.

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