Rugby-Larkham convinced Australians have stepped up in Super Rugby Pacific

  • Rugby
  • Saturday, 15 Jun 2024

(Reuters) - ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham believes Australian teams have made progress this year despite another failure to challenge New Zealand's dominance in Super Rugby Pacific.

The Brumbies lost 34-20 to the Auckland Blues on Friday to end Australian involvement in the competition, but Larkham felt the performances of his own team plus those by the Queensland Reds and the Melbourne Rebels were worthy of praise.

"As Australian franchises in the Super Rugby competition I thought we showed up a lot better," he said.

"I was impressed with the way the Reds started the competition. I think the Rebels showed a few people that there is talent in Australia. They surprised a few teams.

"The three teams that got through to the finals have shown some really good footie this year and have certainly taken a step up from last year."

No Australian team has reached the final of the Super Rugby competition since the New South Wales Waratahs won the title in 2014 and next week's final will feature the Blues and the Waikato Chiefs in another all-New Zealand decider.

And with New Zealand also dominating meetings between the nations at international level, Larkham believes the clashes between the All Blacks and the Wallabies will give a better indication of how much the game in both nations has progressed.

The international teams will meet twice in September, with Sydney hosting the first clash on Sept. 21 with the return in Wellington a week later.

"Whilst there is an improvement in Australian rugby there's been a really strong improvement in New Zealand rugby," said Larkham.

"The strong tests every year are the New Zealand tests, the Beldisloe Cups, and we'll get a bit of an indication how far Australia has come when those matches come round."

(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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