Super Rugby boosted by return of powerhouse George Smith
YOU would think it would be very, very difficult to top last weekend's stellar Super Rugby round for overall promotional value for the code in Australia. And you'd be right.
It would take something like the return of an institution, one that has the power to transport us back to a wonderful age in Australia rugby.
One where running rugby flowed freely, and the Wallabies won test matches.
'John Eales has come out of retirement?', you ask. Well, no.
But the next best thing has.
George Smith, a veteran of 128 Brumbies games and 110 tests, has accepted a short-term (three month) contract, in the process, filling the final spot on the Brumbies' 35-man roster.
And this is very positive for rugby.
It's great that Smith is not totally lost to Aussie rugby.
Apart from playing his part in assisting an Aussie Super team to victories, the amount of rugby 'intellectual property' he holds and will transfer to his fellow Aussie team mates is scary.
Smith obviously loves his footy, too. Contracted to Suntory in Japan for the last years, he spent last year's 'off season' on a short-term contract with Stade Francais in Paris, and now he's back in Canberra with the Brumbies.
You've got to admire a guy that loves his rugby this much.
He's also an awesome bloke!
New ARU CEO, Bill Pulver, was interviewed on a national sports show during the week - and let me tell you, it was very informative.
Bill, or the 'Pulveriser' as he has been nicknamed, was pretty impressive, too.
There were three very significant areas where the Pulveriser showed his plans and preferred direction for rugby in Australia.
One was the quality of the core product, and was based on stats that showed Super Rugby ratings dropped more than 11% in 2012.
You don't need me to tell you rugby was ordinary in 2012.
We moved our eyeballs and minds to other interests in droves.
The Pulveriser revealed he met with all Super Rugby team coaches and expressed his desire for Australian Rugby to get back to what he termed 'smart, creative, running rugby'.
You could hear a collective 'bloody oath' echo throughout the country.
From the performance in the early Super Rugby games, it would appear the coaches have listened, too.
The second area was what to do with the 'third tier', the old 'national club comp' chestnut. Bill's thoughts were for a 'Super B' type competition.
But that wasn't all. Bill's idea is for the games to go for an hour, and be an 'incubator' for law variations - an obvious focus on refining the core product.
I'm for any improvement on the quality of the rugby that is provided, but the jury is still out on this one.
Now, to the third area, the national coach.
The Pulveriser is of the belief that Robbie Deans has been doing a good job.
Now, that point is debateable, but it seems to contradict Bill's desire for 'smart, creative, running rugby' to underpin Aussie rugby's rejuvenation.
That's because the footy the Wallabies have played under Robbie has been anything but smart, creative, running rugby.
But who knows, maybe (like this year's Super rugby coaches) Robbie will be heavily influenced by the Pulveriser!