AFTER four rounds of Super Rugby in 2013, one thing is very apparent. Well, two things, actually.
One is the quality of the rugby being played is far more entertaining than 2012.
Across the three conferences, we are seeing far more ball-in-hand rugby.
The more teams run the ball, the more pressure is placed on defensive capabilities.
As a result, not only has the attack of most teams improved in 2013, it has also improved the defensive qualities required.
The overall result is rugby with improved aesthetic value. Brutally beautiful is how I'd describe it.
In saying that, there certainly is a first among equals so far in 2013.
The quality of the rugby created by the Kiwi teams and played in the Kiwi conference overall, is, if not light years ahead, certainly a decade head of the Aussie teams and Aussie conference.
Take as examples the Highlanders v Chiefs and Hurricanes v Blues fixtures in round one, the Blues v Crusaders game in round two, and the Hurricanes v Crusaders game last Friday.
These were wonderful examples of brutally beautiful rugby, and promotions of rugby at its best providing twenty-four tries at an average of six tries per game.
But it's not just exclusively the Kiwi teams.
We also had the weekend's Highlanders v Cheetahs and Stormers v Chiefs' fixtures delivering us thirteen tries, at six (and a half) tries per game. And it's just not tries for tries sake - they have been earned.
The salient point, as far as I see, is that all these games involved Kiwi sides and non Aussie sides.
Teams that play the Kiwi teams rise up to their level, it seems.
The other side of this, of course, is that we have not witnessed an exciting fixture involving an Aussie team.
While I wouldn't describe games involving Aussie teams as dour, and the Brumbies v Tah game last Saturday certainly had some entertaining periods, they are not of the quality across the board as the Kiwi ones.
They are getting better, no doubt. But they are not there yet.
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