Sports Call - Super Rugby needs an urgent update, because last weekend's yellow card incident is a sign of a competition in trouble, writes RNZ rugby reporter Joe Porter.
The yellow card given to the Highlanders' Malakai Fekitoa has been castigated - and, while that incident has been rightly debated, there are plenty of other issues troubling the tournament, leaving ugly ruck marks on the Super Rugby competition.
World Rugby announced it was cracking down on high and dangerous tackles this year in a bid to reduce concussions, and SANZAR - which runs the Super Rugby and Rugby Championship competitions - is following suit.
Blues player Steven Luatua's moment of madness on Friday night against the Chiefs cost his side dearly, and his high tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams was duly dealt a red card.
Luatua copped a four-week ban for the brain fade and fair cop - that stuff is dangerous and illegal - but those baying for his blood must not have played much rugby. As a diminutive fullback (read vertically challenged) with next to no mass ("60 pounds when wet and wearing boots" - to quote rapper Easy E) I was often on the end of a 'clothesline' by a slow-moving forward who couldn't keep up with my fast feet - there was rarely any malice.
But Fekitoa's yellow card - sin-binned for contesting a high ball against Crusader David Havili - defied belief.
Fekitoa was certainly close enough to fight for the ball, but he was bumped in the lead-up to his leap and stayed close to the ground, unintentionally tipping over Havili in the process.
Havili did get hurt, but how could Fekitoa possibly have done anything other than what he did? The only option would be not to contest at all.
Former All Blacks Richard Loe and Christian Cullen have slammed the decision, wondering if the game was destined to become touch rugby.
The yellow card certainly affected the result and stripped the match of any climactic tension.
No one wants a watered-down version of the sport, but falls such as the one Havili suffered are potentially life-threatening and must be minimised, if they are unable to be eradicated.
How do you do this?
I'm not entirely sure, but carding Fekitoa unfairly punishes him, the Highlanders and the fans - it won't stop players competing for high balls. They have to, that's their job.
Tony Smith from Fairfax suggested incidents such as the above be put on report, like in the NRL. That way the footage can be viewed later to see if anyone is culpable, rather than making a rash decision that could significantly influence the outcome of the game.
It's a good idea and doesn't dilute the contest, but it also doesn't stop the players being put in dangerous positions.
Chris Rattue at the New Zealand Herald argues that World Rugby "would be negligent in the extreme if it thought there was not at least an issue to investigate".
He believes a rule change is needed to prevent future tragedies and he's probably right, but the high ball contest is an incredibly compelling one.
I'm at an impasse. How do you not rob the sport of part of its identity, while making changes to quite literally protect the lives of those who play the game?
And what about the Super Rugby competition as a whole?
The contrast between the New Zealand derbies and pretty much every other game is like chalk and cheese. You certainly need a lot of wine to endure most of the rubbish on offer.
The thought of watching the Queensland Reds play the Melbourne Rebels, or the South African side the Bulls play the ACT Brumbies, fills me with dread.
I'll take 80 minutes of Peppa Pig re-runs with my daughters any day.
At least I can chortle at children's TV; watching Super Rugby more often than not makes me weep - there's enough misery in this world already.
The Australian teams, to be polite, are underwhelming.
It's a worrying sign for the Wallabies and ultimately the All Blacks, who know only too well their toughest challenge is now from the northern hemisphere.
South Africa has a couple of sides that will be genuine threats in the Super Rugby playoffs, but they can't justify having six teams.
The Southern Kings must be dethroned - and the crown cremated - never to be worn by another from the Republic again.
If the Kings are a calamity, then the Sunwolves are a scourge.
How many times can you flog a dead horse? The Sunwolves will cop about 15 floggings this season - hopefully that's the end of the torture - but it's unlikely the powers that be will sort the format out in time.
SANZAR bosses are meeting in Europe shortly to discuss the future of the tournament. Will they opt for a radical refresh?
Unlikely. The baling will continue in an already severely listing ship.