A Proposal For Australia's Third Tier Competition - Green and Gold Rugby
3rdtier

A Proposal For Australia’s Third Tier Competition

A Proposal For Australia’s Third Tier Competition

Key Points

  • 74 Matches in 2013 – 148 matches in 2014
  • Costs $80,000 in 2013 – $160,000 in 2014
  • Costs can be offset by sponsorhip and broadcast revenue
  • Competition to run alongside The Rugby Championship
  • Two divisions per city with promotion / relegation
  • Consists of existing third tier clubs supplemented by new clubs

Recently I’ve been watching some games from the ITM Cup in New Zealand and the Currie Cup in South Africa. I know those competitions have long histories but I’m a new viewer and I must say I’ve been impressed with some great rugby.

With a break in The Rugby Championship this week my thoughts have again turned to whether we need such a competition in Australia and if so, how could we make it work.

The plan from Balmain’s Warren Livingstone for a third tier competition is the only plan I’ve seen recently with any real detail behind it. There are elements of that plan that will lead to opposition from some of the people who currently run the game at national, state and club levels. There are also elements of the plan I don’t support, but what I do support is someone attempting to do something rather than doing nothing. Unfortunately, any plan that isn’t supported by the existing key players in the game is unlikely to succeed.

In writing this proposal I decided that to do justice to it I would have to include a fair bit of detail so I’ve summarised the proposal in this article and included links to each detailed section. If an issue grabs your attention in this summary please take the time to read the detailed notes by following the link to that section.

My proposal includes an additional 74 matches in 2013 (including 12 finals) at a cost of $80,000, increasing to 148 matches in 2014 (including 24 finals) at a cost of $160,000. Those costs assume no revenue from sponsorship or broadcast rights.

Hopefully this summary grabs your attention enough that you choose to read the complete detailed proposal, which you can download here.

THE UNDERLYING ISSUES

For me there are five key issues that need to be addressed when considering the question of a third tier competition:

  1. Do we need a third tier competition? Yes — and the establishment of such a competition should be a priority.
  2. Should we find the money for such a competition, regardless of costs? No — the competition can only be established if costs can be controlled.
  3. Should such a competition be age-based? No — the competition should give the best players the opportunity, regardless of age.
  4. Would private ownership enhance such a competition? Yes — and there must be flexibility to accommodate this option.
  5. Should such a competition be club-based? Yes.

Read my discussion notes on these points here.

MY PROPOSAL

A lot of people have come up with suggestions for a third tier competition. I’ve read a lot of them and looked at the models in New Zealand and South Africa, so when I say this is ‘my proposal’ it really involves pulling together the thoughts and objections of many, as well as adopting ideas from other competitions. If I’ve grabbed one of your ideas, all credit to you and I hope I’ve used your idea in a way you agree with.

My detailed discussion paper on the following points can be downloaded here.

Staged Approach

Costs are the big issue with any proposal for a third tier competition, particularly for travel. Much like when the ITM Cup was launched in 1976, I’ve proposed a staged approach with:

  • a Northern Conference (Sydney and Brisbane) being introduced in year one;
  • a Southern Conference (Melbourne and Canberra) being added in year two;
  • a cross-conference series after three or four years;
  • a national competition including Perth after five or six years.

Whilst I’d love to see a more comprehensive competition established immediately, we have to take a medium- to long-term approach if we are to improve the standing of Australian rugby on the world stage. I don’t think the ‘if you build it they will come’ approach is appropriate.

See Section 1 of the discussion paper here for more on this topic.

Timing

There is no real window in the calendar for a new competition between existing club rugby competitions and the Super Rugby and TRC competitions.

My proposed competition requires a window of nine weeks, and the only way that could be accommodated would be to bring the existing club competitions in Australia forward by around five weeks.

The proposed 2013 competition would run at roughly the same time as TRC, commencing on 24 August and concluding on 12 October.

See Section 2 of the discussion paper here for more on this topic.

Competition Structure

The competition would involve two divisions in each city. Division one in each city would consist of five teams and division two would have seven teams playing in an intra-city round-robin series. The top-performing teams from division one in each city would progress to inter-city conference finals.

The competition would provide 62 matches in the round-robin series and 12 finals matches in each conference.

Each team in division one would play each other once and have one bye in a round-robin series over five weeks.

Each week the two matches in division one would be played as a double-header at the nominated home ground of one of the division one teams. With five round-robin matches to be played, each team would host one double-header during the competition.

The proposed draw for the division one competition is included in Section 3.1 of the discussion paper here.

In the final two weeks of the competition the top two teams in each city (based on points from the round-robin series and a countback if necessary) would play semi-finals, a play-off final and a grand final. These final matches would be inter-city contests within the conferences.

The division one semi-finals would be played as part of a triple-header with the finals of the division two competition in that city. The finals matches would be played at the same ground the grand final of the local premier competition is played.

The grand final would rotate between the two cities in a conference each year with the play-off final being played in the other city on a rotational basis as well. The inaugural grand final location would be determined by public draw.

This structure would provide a double-header between top teams in each city each week together with triple-header finals in each city in each of the two finals weeks to help attract broadcasters.

To give you an idea of how the structure would work here’s the structure for the 2013 Northern Conference — if we assume Sydney comes out of the hat to host the inaugural grand final.

With seven teams in division two there would be three matches each week in the round-robin series. This would allow each team to host two weekends at their home ground – one a double-header and the other a single match.

The proposed draw for the division two competition is included in Section 3.2 of the discussion paper here.

See Section 3 of the discussion paper here for more on this topic.

Participants

The participants in the competition would include a mixture of some new teams and all of the teams in the premier competition in each city – Shute Shield teams in Sydney, Hospital Cup teams in Brisbane, John I Dent Cup teams in Canberra and Dewar Shield teams in Melbourne.

Participation in division one would hopefully be the aim of every team in the competition, but the rules and structure of this competition would reward those teams that have rugby programs that are the equivalent of a professional team, which for many existing teams will mean spending money to develop those programs.

This will no doubt create a situation where there are a group of stronger teams and weaker teams. I make no apologies for that – my proposal is that if Australia is to be a top-class rugby nation well into the future we have to improve our depth and systems. What I hope is that smaller, less resourced teams would take up the challenge and improve their programs to compete with stronger teams. At the end of the day the division one competition wouldn’t be about participation by all – if a team were happy with just participating, they would likely remain in division two.

The only way a smaller, less resourced team could achieve a step up to compete with larger, better resourced teams would be to introduce some new resources – financial, personnel, organisational, marketing, etc. That would most likely involve attracting investors, or joint venturing with a strong non-premier grade team (such as Sydney’s Balmain) or a group of teams.

See Section 4 of the discussion paper here for more on this topic.

Promotion and Relegation

The five division one teams in each city would consist of:

  • the winner of division one in that city in the previous year;
  • the teams that finished first and second on the ladder at the end of the regular season in the premier competition in that city the previous year (but if the winner of division one was one of those teams, then the team that finished third would be included); and
  • the teams that finished first and second in division two in that city the previous year (but if the winner of division one was one of those teams, then the team that finished third in division two would be included).

This would ensure that the division one champion would always defend their title the following year, and provide incentive for two teams to gain promotion each year to division one. This would assist the clubs in division two to attract sponsors, supporters and players if they are a good prospect of gaining promotion to division one.

See Section 5 of the discussion paper here for more on this topic.

Shield Competition

In division two all teams would also contest a shield in each city. That shield could only be won by defeating the team that holds it at the time. The holder of the shield at the conclusion of the round-robin series each year would retain the shield and defend it in the first round of the division two competition the following year.

See Section 6 of the discussion paper here for more on this topic.

Costs And Revenue

The costs for the ARU only start to kick in once the division one finals series starts. On both weekends of the finals series one team from each city in each conference would have to travel to the other city on a fly-in, fly-out basis.

The ARU would have to cover the travel costs of a party of 33, including 25 players and eight coaching and support staff. The budget over the two weekends of the finals totals $80,000 in 2013 for the Northern Conference (Sydney and Brisbane), increasing to $160,000 in 2014 once the Southern Conference (Melbourne and Canberra) commences.

Does anyone think it’s not possible the ARU can find a sponsor to take naming rights for this competition at a cost of $80,000 in 2013 (increasing to a still-modest $160,000 each year thereafter) to fund an east coast third tier competition? I don’t.

Could the ARU sell this concept to a broadcaster, even if only for the four division one final matches on each of two weekends when the only football being played in competition is the A*League? I expect so.

If Balmain are targeting a $1 million winner-takes-all prize for their proposed competition, that gives us an idea of the minimum target the ARU should have in sponsorship and broadcast revenue for this proposed competition.

The surplus of sponsorship or sales to broadcasters above the costs could be used to provide a cash prize for the winners of both divisions in each city, and the balance should then be distributed to the teams in both divisions in each city (to a maximum of 12 teams per city). Those funds will help each team to improve their rugby program for the following season — which, at the end of the day, is the purpose of this whole proposal.

In the unlikely event that the ARU can’t raise any revenue from sponsors and broadcasters, should it fund the $160,000 costs for this competition? Yes! This sort of project is exactly what the bonus of the millions in broadcast revenue from next year’s Lions tour should be used for.

See Section 7 of the discussion paper here for more on this topic.

CONCLUSION

This competition could start in Sydney and Brisbane in 2013. With the Lions tour in June and July we can expect that rugby in Australia will receive a much-needed publicity boost and the introduction of this new competition could take advantage of that publicity.

All that is required to make this happen in 2013 is for the NSWRU and QRU to convince their existing premier clubs to agree to start the local competitions earlier. There are already twelve premier teams in Sydney and the QRU would only have to invite an extra two teams in to fill the quota of twelve in Brisbane. I’m very confident that both Logan and Darling Downs would not take much convincing to enter a team in division two in Brisbane next year – after all, they have until August next year to prepare.

I doubt the Melbourne and Canberra competitions could be organised to start before 2014, due to the requirement for up to seven extra teams to be arranged between the two competitions, but if it can be done we could have a third tier competition on the east coast up and running next year with no costs for the ARU.

Whilst I’m involved as a coach with an existing premier club in Brisbane I haven’t discussed this proposal with anyone at the club, nor anyone at Green & Gold Rugby, so this is not a self-serving proposal. It’s what I think we can and should do, for the long-term betterment of Australian rugby.

  • Simo

    Yes.

    • redbull

      No.

      I hear you guys with the club stuff but it will not bring the quality of rugby required to attract attention.

      Simple numbers. ITM and Currie cup are played by teams where 2-3 teams collectively supply players to a super franchise. So the quality is not hugely below Super Rugby. The system you are proposing sees 5-12 premier clubs competing. The quality players are very much more diluted. The only way the quality would start to match ITM-Currie Cup is if one or two clubs in each city start to hoard all the best players and other clubs die a slow and horible death. Who is going to chose the winners and losers of the clubs?

      I thought he ARC design had merrit. As you suggest, start modestly. Pick 2*Sydney and 1*Brisbane rep teams and play each other, maybe include the Vikings, in a home and away comp for 2013. Simple points structure determining the winner. Add SEQ and NSW central coasts in a year or two. Then regional QLD-NSW, Melbourne, Tasmania and finally Perth. By mid-way it should be semi-professional and guys will be doing it as a job (paid like an apprentice) rather than having it interfere with alternative work.

  • kronic

    I think ground availability will be a big issue, with shifting the club season, as well as this proposed competition.

    In terms of funding, the ARU will get a large chunk from the Lions tour, this should be invested into a 3rd tier competition.

    • Scott Allen

      Kronic – are there a lot of premier grade clubs in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra that share their ground with others?

      Is cricket the issue? I know that may be an issue for GPS in Brisbane but not any others up here.

      • kronic

        I know some Shute Shield clubs do.

        Most Melbourne clubs do also. They’d also lack the facilities for a decent crowd.

        In Melbourne, you’d most likely see them sharing a ground with some of the Football/Soccer clubs, who have permanent grounds and grandstands.

        • bill

          F*k GPS their best playing surface is their suburban ground, beautiful to run on.

  • Do not agree with this at all, I see the conference system in rugby allowing for the merging in nz and sa of those and for a growth as a local comp in australia.

    • I’m not sure what you’re trying to say?

      • JJJ

        Think he’s saying the conference system of Superugby will take over the NTA and Currie Cup, and will become big enough that we don’t need a third tier.

        • JJJ

          NTA=ITM

          Where did I get NTA from??

  • WA

    Definitely the best proposal I’ve seen written out. The only problem being Perth. As a West Australian who is involved in community rugby, I know how much work RWA and WAJRU are putting in to increase the level of rugby here in our state. The participants are increasing every year, this year hitting 8000 juniors. Bringing a competition like this to Perth in around 3-4 years (instead of 5-6) would benefit both Australian rugby and West Australian rugby tremendously.

    • Scott Allen

      The sooner the better.

      If competition went well and broadcasters supported could probably include Perth earlier.

  • Timbo

    Love it to happen but ground availabilities and organising the teams would be a clusterfuck. The proposal of bring a Darling Downs team into the Brisbane comp is laughable. The DD rep team gets smoked by the Gold and Sunny Coast teams that occupy the bottom of the ladder. Plus asking a DD team to enter a comp, trin twice a week and travel to Brisbane every second week is laughable – the Darling Downs is not Toowoomba, it’s a collection of Towns 100’s of kilometers away from each other. Good luck convincing Kimmy from St George to drive 3000k’s a week to train and play footy for free.

    • RugbyNoddy

      Don’t worry about Kimmy. Leave him to me. You get the $80,000!

    • Scott Allen

      Timbo if that is the case probably go for Ipswich then – just thought DD would have welcomed the opportunity.

    • suckerforred

      Don’t call it DD then, call it Toowoomba. We need to have a pathway for players outside of Brisbane to get their shot if they do not know anyone in a Brisbane club to get a look in. Perhaps the question needs to be asked of the winners of the risdon cup if they would be prepared to put in the extra work.

  • ooaahh

    Available ovals for canvassing.
    Club Grounds
    School Grounds
    Public Grounds

  • Rob Edwards

    Well worth pursuing but wasn’t this the purpose of the now-defunct Aust Rugby Shield? I seem to remember lack of support from the big Sydney clubs being an issue.

    • Davo

      Are you referring to the national ARC?

      Because the problem with that was that none of the existing clubs were involved at all. This is one of the main problems that this proposal addresses.

      • Claypole

        Not being associated with the existing clubs was the strength of the ARC! It was canned by O’Neill because it wasn’t his baby.

  • chris

    Adelaide needs to be involved!

    • Why

      • chris

        To increase rugby’s popularity in other parts of Australia. Also to give players there a pathway. Lots of reasons! Why wouldn’t you want rugby to have an increased profile in Adelaide?

        • Cpt Croweater

          Need to think short term for the moment and start small mate.

          Adelaide is a pipe dream for the foreseeable future.

          What we need for the moment is the Rebels to hit up a trial game in Adelaide once in a while and build awareness up.
          But being new themselves, the Rebels should probably concentrate on regional Victoria first.

          The majority of Adelaidians can’t tell the difference between union and league and wouldn’t even know what Super Rugby is…

          Baby steps, or else it all turns to shit and all this effort and thought is for naught…

        • bill

          Chris you can’t increase the rugby playing population by putting bodies in barrels, even if they resemble them!

  • Pat Garnham

    Love the idea Scott, well thought through and i look forward to reading the full proposal over a glass of wine tonight!

    Another thought (Being from Tassie) a similar method could be used for South Australia and Tasmania. obviously a lower standard but would provide pathways for those players too. If the model works why not apply it elsewhere!

    Another thought out of left feild (not thought through fully). If the ARU are against setting up a 3rd tier comp in Australia could they fund for a number of promising australian rugby players to be put up in New Zealand for the ITM cup and pursue contracts for them? not ideal, but could be a stepping stone to increase rugby standards and pathways between club and super rugby.

    Discuss :)

    • Scott Allen

      Good idea on SA and Tasmania in a conference.

      Think the budget has to get Perth in first given we have a Super Rugby team there already.

    • Ian

      I say send our retiring players to go over and play in the ITM cup. Just enough to take positions from young new zealand talent coming through the ranks.

      Or maybe just send an entire generation of players, say the Australian Schoolboys over? Infiltrate the enemy ranks, weaken their stocks, then defect back to the Wallabies as men with an intimate knowledge of the black scum. Hell, they’re doing it with Robbie Deans!

      • skyblue

        Nz wouldn’t want any of our players. They’ve got too many good players in that comp.good rugby to watch.

  • Cpt Croweater

    Scott, top knotch!

    Firstly I would say that it’s easy to see how much research and thought has gone into this proposalm, and as a result, is the best and most strategic plan I have seen on these forums so far.

    You have assesed what Australian rugby needs as a bare minimum and made it cost effective and viable both short term and long term.

    Also, I love the idea of a Shield to be competed for by the teams. While living in NZ a few years ago I remember how Cantedbury made playing at home hellish for the visiting teams because keeping the Ranfurly shield was important for them. it encourages teams to create ‘fortresses’ when playing at home.

    Obviously untill later down the track when the comp grows and teams get their own grounds, this won’t be possible. But an awesome idea anyway!

    As always Scott, a very enjoyable read and great proposal.

    This has my complete support.

  • Slim 293

    I think you need to have Canberra involved from the get go considering:

    – All of the Brumbies players play in the Canberra competition, and by not including Canberra teams you’re omitting a fair chunk of quality players from the competition

    – Vikings are the reigning Australian club champions having recently defeated the Sydney and Brisbane premiers

    – The money that could be poured into the competition by including a wealthy club like Vikings

    • Scott Allen

      No objection from me if it could be organised by time Northern Conference launches.

      To do that need three more teams for Canberra comp to provide 10 in Melbourne and 10 in Canberra minimum.

      I have no knowledge of which teams that could be.

      Suggestions?

  • Redsfan1

    I’m really pleased you have written this article. My mates & I were talking after the diabolical losses to the All Blacks this year about how much it hurts to get pumped like that & what is the way to fix it.

    3rd Tier is the only answer to beat NZ & SA. . And you know what it would be fun to watch as well!

  • REDinCPT

    am i missing something here?
    is there a possible scenario which could see 2 sydney teams playing the grand final in brisbane and 2 brisbane teams playing the playoff in sydney?
    if this is the case, i’m pretty sure that not too many people will be happy about it.

    very impressive plan though!

    • Scott Allen

      Covered that in detailed notes that links are provided to.

      If two teams from same city make GF, it would be held in their city and Playoff Final would be played in city GF was to be played.

      Would get supporters at the right games and obviously save more travel costs.

      • REDinCPT

        yes, jumped the gun a little, just read the white paper. very cool plan.

  • tigerland 12

    My concern is the players. Most club players are working men, it may be very hard to get them all on board for regular trainings required. Not to mention there aren’t many clubs in Brisbane that are financially well off, so there isn’t much incentive for these players to train and play after full days of work. Just my only real concern.

    The overall proposal seems genuine.

  • Timo9

    Great idea and more than just a starting point. So glad to see you recognise Logan as a possibility for Brisbane 2nd division. One of the few clubs in Brisbane that wouldn’t have ground availability issues and has a facility ready to go for this sort of competition. The sooner the ARU realises the value in a 3rd tier competition the better!

  • Croweater60

    A 3rd tier competition must be TRULY national, too much East Coast thinking so far, that really gets up the nose of South Aussie Rugby supporters. We get charged the same to play the game in Adelaide as anywhere else in Australia, without the benefits of pokies or huge sponorships. The clubs raise the monies from their players and supporters with some damn hard work by their committees, all of whom are volunteers.

  • @ro_wine

    A perfect launch would be 2014 once JO’n is working the high rollers table at Crown Casino and has left the ARU. Hopefully the new CEO will actually give a @&$( about developing a decent junior and club rugby program and stop focussing on the top of the pyramid. Fingers crossed its not too late, cause we seem to be losing more ground to other codes every day. Great proposal Scott.

    • Westo

      I’ll volunteer in JON’s place saving us budget. In actual fact we need a bunch of us to volunteer to get this going.

  • LRB

    Great idea Scott, I was thinking about the second tier and possible inclusions. Rather than a Darling Downs side a Toowoomba side would be easier and the team can play out of Clive Berghoffer stadium. Although the selection panel for a Toowoomba team would be a nightmare…

    Overall I like the concept that places the clubs at the centre of the solution. Personally I always felt that was one of the reasons that the ARC failed.

  • JimmyC

    Scott my favourite part of this is the 2 teams from div2 making it. All previous ideas using existing clubs would only make the top teams better. Players would flock from the poor teams to the rich ones more so than they do now.

  • nomis

    It sounds really well thought out and exciting!

    I’m sure I’m a bit slow, but could you explain how all the Super players end up playing for a club in Div 1. Like, is it possible that they could miss out, and end up in Div 2?

    I think I’m asking for a bit more on the player nominations, etc. that you put in the detailed version.

    Thanks. Sorry. I feel so stupid asking what is probably a very obvious question?

  • Kiap

    Great proposal. After GAGR kick the tyres on this thing how do we get the state unions (and particularly the NSWRU and QRU for phase I ) to sign on?

  • How can a model based on the already existing rugby clubs work when it isolates 1st grade side from the rest of the club?

  • TSR

    Scott, this is as good an idea as I have seen. As you point out there are still some issues – but for any critics, there are two things which I think are indisputable – we need a third tier comp & no-one is come up with a plan that pleases everyone. But this seems to me to be workable, affordable and supports the existing rugby clubs – therefore would hopefully get broad support from the rugby community.

    The question is, (Scott you seem as good a reference point for this question as anyone) how do we get the powers that be to start looking in depth at some of these options. I am not exactly in the know with these things but I don’t believe there is anything in the pipeline at present to try and develop the third tier from the ARU. Surely they can see the priority in this as well?

  • suckerforred

    Is the ARU taking public submissons for there review? Maybe this can be one.

    As many people have said there is not going to be a plan that pleases everyone. People we need to start looking outside our own backyard and think about what is going to be good for Australian Rugby.

    Good work Scott. Will read the full proposal over the next couple of days.

  • Zeno

    This proposal incorporates lots of things I believe are essential (but I couldn’t conceive how how to make them work):
    * existing clubs
    * two divisions
    * shield titles for the lower divisions
    * easy promotion and relegation paths
    * double-header events (a must-have)
    * air fare expenses controlled
    * no need for clubs to find six-figure sponsors
    * best chance of setting up a cracker inter-city grand final

    Great work, Scott.

  • Mike Oxhard

    Scott,
    Whilst I agree with the concept there is a political requirement in Australian Rugby to maintain traditional identities.
    Why couldn’t teams be chosen from players who commenced their rugby journeys namely WA, VIC, ACT, SNSWRU, NSW Country, QLD Country, Brisbane, Sydney North, Sydney South Sydney West.
    This model will allow the schools and clubs where our top tier players commenced their rugby journey to be rewarded and for players to return home.
    I played in the Winfield Shield in QLD in the late 80’s / early 90’s where the Country teams played the city clubs. The game has moved on since then so matching semi-professional city programs against rank amateur country programs will not work.
    Hosting games in regional and remote areas with new laws encouraging running rugby is the key to growth.
    Our rugby demographic has changed with cashed up private schools in Sydney and Brisbane raping the other competitions and the country dry of its talent.
    The player can play top grade rugby in the city and then return to their roots in a model like this.

    The coalition of the unwilling (Sydney Fleet) with four of the stronger clubs in the Shute Shield failed to make the finals of the ARC. Having a NSW Country coach made it more difficult!

    SUFC will never allow itself to be combined with three other clubs again as they want to stand alone however with the talent that they have at their disposal all of their players would be exposed to a better standard of rugby and the game is given the opportunity to grow.

    The ABC are screaming out for a new product and if rugby does not act now we are looking at being wiped off the map by the ARL and AFL.

  • Grant Jones

    I think it’s a good idea to base a third tier competition around existing clubs so that sides have an established supporter base and that set up costs for the new competition are kept in control, two things that the ARC struggled with. My concern with this idea is there are too many clubs involved which will spread the talent too much and therefore not lift the standard of rugby all too much. I think the best way to bring in a third tier would be to make the local club rugby season run to finish at the same time as the super rugby finals. Then a 13 week competition run from from August to the end of October. The teams that would make it to this competition would be the top 4 from Sydney and Brisbane, the top 2 teams from Canberra and the top team from Melbourne and Perth in the club rugby season that has just finished. They would play each other once then have a two week finals series during the time that the rugby championship is being played. The players would come from the club sides obviously but clubs would be able to recruit from clubs that haven’t made this competition to make sure the best players in the country are playing in this competition. There is a lot more to this idea but this is it in a nutshell!

    • 9047

      I agree with you that merely placing existing clubs into a larger competition is not providing an improved level of rugby – there should be less teams, not more.
      But does selecting the top 4 clubs provide a comp that everyone would want to follow?

      What about a tier between club and province, eg 3 teams from Sydney based around clubs – North (Norths, Gordon, Manly, Warringah), South (Uni, Randwick, Easts, Souths), West (Wests, Parra, Penrith, Woodies). Similar method in Bris, ACT and Melb.
      Players and coaches have a pathway. Supporters have a natural team to follow (unlike the ARC).

      • Barry

        Uni would never agree to it, sadly.

        Personally I think the regional team idea will work better from a supporter perspective as you would have supporters from the four clubs (hopefully) coming to the games.

        The ARC admins stuffed our “Northern” team up by basing them on the Central Coast, whilst I agree there should be a team based there moving four established teams out of the area was a bad Move.

        You can also centralise the ground the team plays at.

        I’m a Manly supporter but would be happy to travel to either Brookvale Park (nee Oval) or up to Pittwater Rugby Park to watch a combined North team play.

        Manly, Chatswood & North Sydney Ovals would all be in Cricket setup during this period proposed by Scott.

        I am sure there would be other issues with the other “regional” teams but I am sure that between the four of them that they would find a ground not being used for cricket.

        Sydney Uni need to start taking national interests into account rather than their own, they claim they are Super Rugby factory, so why cant they be a 3T rugby factory as well?

        Great read Scott.

  • rae1

    It all starts at club level in nz,our Fourth Tier.In the 80s the clubs were encouraged (or made) to merge.Although it was not a popular idea at the time it was successful.The clubs had higher player numbers,a widened fan base and financial security.The teams were also strengthened with more quality players and player talent condensed .Our nz club players are the feeders to the ITM,from there Super 15,then All Blacks, it is a gradual transition.I suppose my point is maybe the NSW/Queensland clubs need to look at merging within their area so player talent is condensed and will be easier to organize a structured and professional comp.Watched a bit of the oz club comp on nz tv and to be honest could not believe that these teams were the only feeders to Super 15.ARU needs to start organizing something now! Although it is fun to watch the ABs win,I dont like where rugby is heading in oz.The Southern Hemisphere plays the best rugby in the world and I hope we keep it that way.

  • Bay35Pablo

    sorry, saying the comp will cost only $80K is wrong. What about:

    *ref fees.
    *ground fees
    *insurance
    *travel
    *etc

    And of course all the clubs are doing this with no extra wages for players, coaches, staff etc? Or are the sponsors ponying up extra for the extra games?

    Everything costs.

    And to me the question is whether you shove club rugbt to one side (like NZ does for ITM), or try to add to it. If the latter it does make it harder, but you can’t really punt club rugby down the ladder if not everyone is looked after.

  • sheek

    Scott,

    Top marks for effort, but don’t agree with this at all.

    With all due respect, there are better, less unwieldy models.

    • Barry

      Sheek, So show us some rather than commenting without substance, just saying!

  • sheek

    Scott,

    The fundamental point of a bridging tier between club rugby & super rugby, is to funnel talent into a tighter, more competitive environment, requiring no more than 8-10 teams.

    Consequently, your proposal is philosophical wrong because it is essentially no different to Shute Shield or Hospital’s Cup, where there are simply too many lopsided games due to an imbalance of talent between top clubs & bottom clubs.

  • Jimbo81

    I’ve been emailing the “smart rugby” portal off the ARU website. The emails get through! Have had several responses from high-ranking ARU officials so far – haven’t given in to the temptation to sms them during tests to bitch about Barnes’ kicking or McCabe’s selection yet… see how they play against the Boks this weekend.

  • Rhodie

    Look, a third tier comp is essential to build Rugby Union stocks and exposure. In this day and age finances must be resourced first.

    To do that an accurate costing of the desired end result has to be undertaken before the ARU/Super Clubs/Grade Clubs and business sponsors are approached for funds/player resources.

    I for one, enjoyed the ARC games but felt that It didn’t geographically segment the teams properly and therefore wasn’t representative enough to attract spectators or profitable TV exposure.

    There are 7 ITM Cup teams in NZ and 6 Currie Cup premier Div teams excluding the 8 Div 1 teams in RSA. So considering the number of registered players in each country how many teams should we be looking at? I would say 5 – 6 at the most.

    • Claypole

      There are 14 teams in the ITM Cup, across two conferences of 7.

  • John Wagner

    Great idea Scott.

    The only thing that I would add is that this Comp. should “tinker”with the Laws of the game to make it a more attractive spectacle, and hence a better product to sell to both sponsors and the public alike. (Not sure if IRB approval is required, — but, if it is, then bugger them — let’s go it alone!)

    Some of such changes that I would like to see are:-
    1) Scrum-halves to stay behind the centre-line of the scrum to prevent from negating the hard work of the forwards in winning a scrum
    2) All 3 kicks at goal to be 2 points
    3) More use of “differential” penalties
    4) More use of Yellow cards if a potential try is illegally prevented in the defending 22
    5) Anyone not firmly bound at the breakdown must be 5 metres (or even 10 metres) behind the hindmost foot. At present, defending teams can prevent a forward movement of the maul by going to ground. They then need to commit only one or 2 defenders to the subsequent breakdown. That allows up to 13 defenders to stand only a couple of feet (less than a metre) behind the advantage line, which results in endless pick and drives by the attacking team in an effort (often unsuccessful) to get the attacking team over that advantage line. What has happened to the old days”” when a coach would demand that his entire 8 forwards could be “covered with a blanket” thus allowing for the skilful backs to show their skills out wide?

  • baldwid

    Scott – gotta say i am not sold mate. We have a structure already in existence, club rugby!! we should use it! it might not be perfect and not up to standard but it can be brought up to standard with hard work!

    What needs to happen is that we keep the current comps and make them first past the post like the English Premier League, at the end of the Club seasons we could have an ‘Australian Club Championship’ which would consist of the best four teams from Sydney and Brisbane, 2 from Melbourne and Canberra, and one each from Tasmania, NT and SA. truly national and would run at the same time as TRC.

  • Very nicely written post. Your blog is very beneficial for every reader including me. Keep doing the great work so that people like me can learn some nice and new things. I would love to read more posts on your site.

  • BOPSteamers

    Fantastic proposal Scott, I currently play in the ITM cup and am an Australian Prop, I saw no direct pathway to Super Rugby back home in Sydney once over the age of 20 and also could not get the required training re. Scrummaging.
    I am dumbfounded that not more people have made similar proposals as this single competition is the reason for NZ’s dominance in Super and World Rugby. I keep hearing people harping on about the cost but from what we know here is that the NZRU are glad to post losses for ITM. This is the nurturing stage of player development and this competition allows all budding aspiring Super players to play at Super Rugby pace before even donning a Super Jersey.
    Each Province has an Academy who is responsible for identifying and selecting local school talent at early ages which ensures that not only will they the province develop but also School rugby as a whole recieves the benefit of students that along with School training also recieve professional tutelage in key areas of the game that school rugby often does not address i.e Scrum-time, Ruck-time etc.
    For the good of the Game this proposal or similar must come to fruition.

3rdtier
@ScottA_

Scott is one of our regular contributors from the old days of G&GR. He has experience coaching Premier Grade with two clubs in Brisbane.

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