Club rugby succeeding where Super Rugby is failing
ACT & Southern NSW Premier Division

Rugby that matters: Club rugby succeeds where Super Rugby fails

Rugby that matters: Club rugby succeeds where Super Rugby fails

“People care. It matters. It’s something that rugby’s been missing.”

With these words, Warringah lock Cameron Treloar summed up the state of the landscape of Australian rugby in 2017, where, against all the odds, club rugby may have sensationally found it’s way to the top of the footy pyramid once again.

10-15 years ago, with Super Rugby enjoying it’s “golden age”, club rugby was thought almost superfluous to requirements in the setting of Aussie rugby.

The vaunted Australian Rugby Championship was just around the corner, with ARU Chief Executive Gary Flowers believing the competition was necessary to keep pace with New Zealand and South Africa.

Club rugby was fast fading into the background of the Australian rugby scene.

The sport was growing in the country, and that involved outgrowing its’ traditional, occasionally “elitist” roots in affluent pockets of Sydney and Brisbane.

The adding of the ARC to the Aussie rugby fold, as well as the much-publicised debut of the Western Force, all signalled that rugby was moving away from an acquired taste, that one may perhaps be born into, to a truly national sport.

ARC Logos 2007

ARC Logos 2007

But as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions – something the men running the game in this country have never been short on, but never quite had the true foresight to execute properly.

Without gruesomely reopening too many old wounds, the ARC was a disaster from start to finish of its’ embarrassing two month stay in Australian rugby.

The competition was nothing short of a literal waste of almost 5 million precious ARU dollars, despite Gary Flowers attempting to educate us that the failed league did meet many player development goals.

Talking to Western Force supporters, you get the sense that the ARU has almost done everything they possibly can to prevent rugby from succeeding in a state hungry for the game they play in heaven.

Again, this is an issue that deserves an article of its’ own, but the unfortunate men from the west look sure to be the casualties in a 2018 Super Rugby shake up that is likely to see one of the Aussie teams cut.

Even your staunchest Super Rugby fans (myself included) cannot deny that, over the last 18-24 months, the competition has become, well, boring.

I’ve always enjoyed watching New Zealand and South African teams play, in addition to the five Australian teams, but keeping up with them, especially the South Africans, has always been a challenge, given their unfriendly time zones.

The addition of the Jaguares, Sunwolves, and even the Southern Kings, was quite clearly a bridge too far.

Again, good intentions of both growing SANZAAR’s competitive links, expanding the game in a short-on-rugby province in SA, and injecting money into the competition, has all come at the expense of the fan’s connection to the product.

As SANZAAR administrators have found out, that personal connection to the product is something that just cannot be compromised on.

A rugby mad person such as myself is now simply too disconnected with the rest of the competition to enjoy the different happenings and story lines from other conferences – and this is before we get into the formatting and results.

The Lions’ run to the Super Rugby Final last year was a fascinating one. The once annual whipping boys of the competition had finally grown into their strong Currie Cup results, and it was great for the union.

Andries Ferreira reaches over to scrag Pek Cowan

Lions taking on the Force – one stays, one to go?

Unfortunately, Australian and New Zealand fans missed almost all of this fantastic story line. Whilst the bulk of it was being written, we were all asleep.

All these unfortunate decisions, starting circa 2007, when club rugby looked on it’s last legs, have conspired to revitalise what makes rugby great in the first place – the people, the clubs, and the competition.

In laymen’s terms, it has taken rugby in this country being brought almost to its’ knees for us to realise why we got involved in the first place.

Some of you may have noticed the “make club rugby great again” catch cry that has caught on around the Shute Shield in recent times.

Despite also being an amusing play on the slogan trumpeted by the leader of the free world, this is far from just contrived dogma.

This motto represents a genuine belief in those involved with club rugby that our local teams and tribes have a chance to do something great again, like we once did every Saturday.

To lead a competition that was once such a large part of our enjoyment of rugby back to where it belongs.

Before last fortnights’ Battle of the Beaches’, Manly Marlins President Anthony Bergelin was quizzed as to why the match is always such an important day to those on the peninsula.

“It’s ingrained in us, everyone feels that connectivity to the teams,” Bergelin said, hopeful of his first placed Manly team again denying their neighbours on home turf.

“You’re either born a Rat or you’re born a Marlin. You’re either green or you’re blue. You either drink at The Newport or you drink at The Steyne,”

In past years, Aussie rugby has been moving so fast (or at least attempting to), that we have forgotten these mantras.

Forgotten has been how we started out in rugby, who nursed us when we were learning footy, who provided us with the mates that we watch the Wallabies with today, and who helped us to love this great game.

Put simply, we’ve forgotten, and in the past, been told to, forget our roots.

“It’s up to us to grow the game, and we’ll continue to do that as best we can.” Bergelin finished.

His last quote came seemingly well in the knowledge that he owns the thankless task of introducing future international to the game, only to see them soon “outgrow” their club and go onto the bigger and better.

Despite one of his own juniors, Michael Hooper, captaining the Australian team just one week later, if you were to ask Bergelin whether he would be receiving a “thank you” from the ARU, I don’t think he’d be holding his breath.

Of course, club rugby is also benefiting from the higher, more exciting level of play we’ve seen in recent seasons – a rare positive that is often surprisingly missed given the amount of discussion of grassroots talent in Australia.

We are finally beginning to again see club rugby players make a jump to Super Rugby and make an immediate impact.

Tom Banks, Bryce Hegarty, Isi Naisarani, Alex Newsome, Adam Korcyzk and Will Miller, have all made the jump at one stage this year from prep to pros, and have fit in seamlessly, some even being earmarked as future Wallabies.

Isi Naisarani

Isi Naisarani – Pathways working

The 2017 Shute Shield season has been far closer than many would’ve anticipated.

The Penrith Emus still prop up the bottom of the standings, but have been in almost every match they’ve started this year.

One particularly strong outing Penrith have enjoyed came in Round 9, when the Emus grabbed a 4-try bonus point against the Fish in front of their home fans.

In such a traditionally strong rugby region, its certainly encouraging to see Julian Huxley moving things well and truly in the right direction at Nepean Park.

Once again, the Fins rule the roost in the Shield this year, sitting atop the table at 10-1, but have looked far from unbeatable.

They’ve at times been pressured by the likes of Easts, and have conceded at least 24 points in 5/10 matches this year.

A quick glance at my bio on the left of the screen will show you where my allegiances lie.

Come out to the Inner-West and visit the mighty West Harbour Pirates some time this year. If you see me, come and say hi.

We’re doing great things at Concord Oval under new Head Coach Todd Louden, and the belief around the place is as high as I’ve seen it in a while.

“People care. People genuinely invest. It matters.”

Treloar’s words post the Battle of the Beaches last fortnight, after his Rats came away with their first victory at Manly Oval since 2007, echoed how club rugby is filling a void in people’s lives that Super Rugby has been failing to do.

It’s a pity that it has in part taken poor SR results and disillusionment to get there, but club rugby is offering communities of rugby fans the essence of why we not only watch rugby, but return to it – investment, purpose and passion.

We’re not only making club rugby great again. We’re offering rugby fans what they’ve been missing – passion, desire, love, and a bunch of other emotions that good rugby creates.

Put simply, it’s rugby that matters.

  • Steve

    I hate to be that guy but it made my brain hurt seeing it’s, its and its’ (?) used randomly through this article. It makes my brain hurt.

    On a more serious note though, never do I enjoy rugby more than watching a great Shute Shield match on a weekend afternoon, more free-flowing, skilled play than you could find in a season of some of the Aus Super Sides, played in an unpretentious environment with people who actually care about the game.

    The ARU needs to remember that interest in the professional game doesn’t exist without interest at this level. No one here in my current residence of the UK would be shelling out £100 to go and watch the Chelsea millionaires kick a ball around if they weren’t interested in doing the same down the park with their mates.

    • jamie

      I’m not going to reread it for the sake of grammar, but it’s, its and its’ are all correct in differing contexts.

      And I mean, it’s a free article.. Come on..

  • jamie

    Fantastic article. Actually makes me feel good about rugby this year :-)

    Only place that’s given me a good feeling about rugby this season is down at the club. Not watching super rugby or fox sports or any of this BS.

  • Johnno

    Yes, but it needs more investment eg- More money for 1st colts- 1st colts head coaches be full time in Shute shield would be good and pay 1st colts some money so they can train more. Assume super rugby is here to stay long term, 2-Tiers is what we need eg like AFL model-(AFL then the SANFL/WAFL and other state leagues etc). So OZ rugby needs to have super rugby then 6 state leagues plus ACT/NT leagues. Right now super rugby/NRC/Club rugby are cannibalizing each other at the moment. For example Round-1 of NRC is same weekend as Shute shield GF.

    • Who?

      I agree we need tiers. But must point out that we do have other state competitions, or (more accurately, given Shute Shield isn’t a state competition, it’s a city competition) capital city comps. Some even get coverage on here. They just don’t get near the press the SS clubs manage to grab.
      Your point about SS GF and NRC R1 coinciding is very valid, but it’s a perfect example of the levels of administration in this country constantly fighting each other, rather than working together for the good of the game. I don’t know who’s currently to blame for it all – both parties in that squabble (the SRU, run by the SS Clubs, and the ARU) blame each other and I haven’t the energy to be bothered to work out who’s more at fault this time.
      I wonder if it’s not time for the government to step in (how bad a condition must our administration be in for it to be a valid thought that government might do a better job of sorting it out?!) to restructure the power lines, to redefine boundaries, fields of responsibility and authority, and constitutions, in order to remove the vested interests and find a balanced path to ensure the viability of the game in this country going forward.
      We’re not lacking passion. The fact the game even exists, in spite of the endless track record of mismanagement, is proof of that. As is the fact that we have volunteers out there running games every week – whether there’s a few thousand at the game, or just the players (because that arguably takes more passion than turning up to a ‘major local event’. You won’t convince me that there was more passion at the Rats/Marlins game than there was shown by my club’s A Grade team when all 20 of them drove 6 hours – each way – for a game twice this year). We’re not lacking ideas. We’re lacking leadership and battling red tape. It’s high time we left the middle ages as a model for our governance and found a better solution.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        The government did step in about 5 or 6 years ago, and it’s been downhill ever since.

        The current ARU constitution is the result of government pressure via threats of withdrawl of grants to ‘modernise’ it’s administration, and via a report produced by a former minister. I’m not sure what problem they were trying to fix. The report itself stated that there was no problem.

        People talk of a relationship between 4 or 5 teams and rugby going down hill. No one appears to be looking at the relationship between corporatisation of the ARU and rugby’s performance.

        • Rebels3

          I think this is part of the problem, we have a professional structure with an amateur ethos. It can’t be one or the other.

        • Who?

          Part of the problem with that intervention was that it was at the ARU level only. We need a whole of code change… You can’t fix feudalism by changing the rules around the suzerain only.

        • Bakkies

          and it was led by the pillar of society Mark Arbib

        • Who?

          Great to see you over here, Bakkies…
          Gotta admit, it was weird to see Arbib involved. From my understanding, Rugby in Sydney is mainly played in Blue electorates?

      • Alister Smith

        I agree with your point regarding Shute Shield/Hospital’s Cup not being the only competitions in states. Rugby in some country areas is still pretty strong, certainly central to the local social scene and producing the odd Wallaby/Wallaroo still (though maybe the are lost to the city at an earlier age). I was involved in club rugby in the early 2000s when the Vikings came into the Brisbane comp and there was a first attempt at a pseudo national end of season comp with the Vikings – 3/4 sides from Brisbane and Newcastle but the Sydney clubs chose at the time to remain out of it for whatever reason. I think there is a tendency in some areas of the two major metropolitan clubs to see themselves as the only part of grassroots rugby – they are certainly a major part of it but there are a lot of people in country areas, in other metropolitan areas or in the subdistricts comps and in university and school comps that contribute a hell of a lot to the grass roots network. It seems that we are always competing against each other though – some school games get big crowds but they compete with club rugby in third term, the NRC and the Shute Shield/Hospital’s Cup overlap, we have many different small groups working at cross purposes at times, many of them doing great work for their area but sometimes working against another sector.

        • Who?

          Exactly! :-)
          Which is why I complain we live in feudalism. :-( Everyone is protecting their own patch, without a care about the bigger picture. Except the overlord, who doesn’t understand the pictures.

  • Iain Russell

    Great article. Thank you.

  • Johnno

    I’d like to see an Australia Cup to. FA Cup style, have a knockout comp 32-teams. 6 from Shute shield/6 Brisbane/4 ACT/2 Adelaide/2 vic/2 Tas/3 WA/1 NT/then 2 from NSW country/2 QLD country/1 WA country/1Vic country. Done that’s 32 Club teams, it would be awesome.

    • voodoo economics

      Great idea. When the NRC folds we can use its budget to get it going. Buildcorp can sponsor the womens version to get the girls involved and people can support the teams that they have a connection with or interest in at a local level. Perhaps the local clubs can use some of the funding to to get kids and residents who aren’t involved in rugby into the game via some locally based promotional and support work in the their surrounding communities.

      • Rebels3

        ‘We’ everyone outside of Sydney love the nrc and hope it doesn’t fall over. As for a team from country Vic or wa playing a team from Brisbane/Sydney I don’t think you’d get an insurance company within 1000 miles from wanting to insure the players.

        I don’t want to sound negative as it’s in theory a great idea. But we are long, long way from even having this being semi competitive. Football on the other hand can have thrashings without the legitimate health of the opposition being put in jeopardy.

        • voodoo economics

          ‘I” who live outside Sydney don’t really find it that interesting I’m afraid. But that’s just me. Maybe they can add some fireworks and stuff. That would get me in.

      • Who?

        What budget? NRC doesn’t get any budget. The TV deal funds most of the ARU’s liabilities, Buildcorp put in the rest (and they’re now gone), and the clubs are liable for their own survival. There is no budget.

  • Gnostic

    Great article Myles. Thanks for posting. Club Rugby is the future I think, loving watching the Shute when I get the chance.

  • Andy

    Great article and very well written. Keep it up!

    Also, Shute Shield has been fantastic this year. Up the Woods

  • Who?

    Nice article, Myles. It’s great that the Shute Shield is thriving. But arguably it shows that it doesn’t rely on cash from the ARU. It relies on passion.

    But… Means nothing for many of us. Who are the Fins? Guessing ‘the fish’ refers to the Marlins. I lived in Sydney as a kid – even where I grew up, it would’ve meant nothing. There were – and remain – no SS clubs in my rather large area (yes, out west, but not on the GW Highway). And now I don’t live in Sydney, there’s no reason for passion for any of those clubs.

    For those talking up the joy of watching Shute Shield games… You know what the best game I saw this year was? The team I formerly coached, playing very skilful Rugby, beating a team that had been their nemesis for 2 years. The team is Under 13’s. I saw collisions and cleanouts with commitment that would’ve scared professional players (one cleanout from a support player who’d literally run 95m at top pace – and didn’t slow or hesitate – to support a breakout on turnover ball from his own tryline. I repeat, no hesitation. You don’t see pro’s doing that!). Passion is fantastic. Those at the game loved it – it was a massive event for us spectators, and the players. But I don’t expect ANYONE on here to have anything like the same level of enthusiasm for my U13’s game that I had. So why should you expect me to care about the battle beyond The Spit Bridge?

    Further, whilst it’s great that Shute Shield (and the other club comps) now run(s) during the Super season, meaning players stepping into Super teams have match fitness, it’s also worth noting that players like Banks, Korcyzk, etc made their name with strong performances in NRC last year, not just Super form. Banks got his Brumbies contract because he was visible playing (very well – he was highly rated in the QRU) for Qld Country.
    So we shouldn’t overstate the value of club. I’m happy to accept that some have understated it (I don’t, I just don’t have any connection to the only club comp that’s seemingly considered worthy by those on here – we hear only a little about the Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane comps, and being regional, I don’t even have a connection to one of those! My grassroots are further underground). I don’t accept that the ARU is financially responsible for it (that should be the responsibility of the NSWRU, the QRU, the VRW, the WARU, etc, and certainly of the SRU, which is the body responsible for running it. My local sub-union doesn’t get any money, it’s responsible for maintaining its own viability). And I certainly don’t accept that our future financial viability can be considered safe in the hands of clubs, who would (from my point of view as a former club president, very understandably) try to hold onto every cent coming through the door, to ensure their own viability. I don’t accept that clubs that supposedly need support from the ARU are in a position where they can extremely rapidly taken on the responsibility of carrying the entire country.
    So long live the clubs, long live the Shute Shield, but also long live the NRC. And let’s hope we can figure out (and the ARU can implement) a way to ensure that provincial rugby – the Tahs, the Reds, the Brumbies and now also the Force and Rebels – continues, regains its feet, its relevance, and is restored to a position of strength.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      I was thinking how to say this, but you’ve said it all and much better than I could.

    • Hugh Cavill

      Love your first line, Who. I’d argue the Shute Shield’s resurgence in Sydney this year is due to the fact the ARU have nothing at all to do with it.

      People are attracted to it precisely because of the grassroots, amateur ethos. Having the ARU pouring money into it may help in some respects, but isn’t the cure-all some have suggested. In fact it could be quite the opposite…

      • McWarren

        Who I read that line “your either a Rat or a Marlin….” and understood it too mean any local comp. Myles is obviously a fan of the Shute Shield and thus his article reflects what he knows about it. You can apply it too any local comp, big or small, and that is the essence of what club rugby brings, be they Premier grade or U13. I think that was the Myles main point, I might be wrong.

        • Who?

          It certainly could be read that way. Maybe that’s even true for those who grew up in Rugby circles (I moved to Australia, and I chose to follow Rugby – I wasn’t born anything).

          But the article’s been written against a backdrop of many on here who are posting calling for the death of Super Rugby, the end of provincial rugby, the burning of the NRC, and somehow we then use the existing clubs – which are based around tiny geographical areas – to build some new structure that’s going to immediately fund the ARU. That context must be considered, and is undoubtedly going to come through when comments follow the article. Because this article was – immediately – used to proclaim the death of Super Rugby and herald the formation of the aforementioned impossible club comp.

          The same sort of article could also be written about private school rugby. How it’s the bastion of Rugby, the source of the best Wallabies. Would it then be any surprise that those of us not affiliated with those schools – many of whom will have had only negative impacts from the work of those schools (such as myself and my son, who is now excluded from playing any Rugby due to the influence of those schools) to find that those of us who live in clubland (I’m a former club president, a former chair of a sub-union competition committee) wouldn’t necessarily agree with all the positives spouted in support of the schools..?

          So, as an article, Myles’ piece must be read in the context of the greater debate, which he references, and as such it was always going to draw responses such as my own. Especially when one particular competition (Shute Shield) is constantly heralded as the backbone of the game in our country, proclaimed as the grassroots that must be given all consideration, when my region – so much a part of the grassroots that we’re underground – is, along with almost every other region, ignored.

        • Rebels3

          Brilliant post.

    • Pearcewreck

      Your reply does this article a disservice.
      You are ignoring the fact that in a club based comp, you yourself can have a local team. Even if you don’t know the “Marlins or Rats”. If we had a national club based/city comp you may have a team in your local area, or you may not as they can’t cover all of Aust. But they will be local, like he says
      “You’re either born a Rat or you’re born a Marlin. You’re either green or you’re blue. You either drink at The Newport or you drink at The Steyne,”

      This is the exact local rivalry that Super Rugby can never provide.
      No Super Rugby teams are local.

      You say “And let’s hope we can figure out (and the ARU can implement) a way to ensure that provincial rugby – the Tahs, the Reds, the Brumbies and now also the Force and Rebels – continues, regains its feet, its relevance, and is restored to a position of strength.”
      In reply I will quote Myles “But as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions – something the men running the game in this country have never been short on, but never quite had the true foresight to execute properly.”

      • Who?

        I can’t have a local team in a club based nationwide comp. No way that my region could sustain it, financially, given the massive travel costs involved. We struggle to maintain players just to play in the local club comp. Even though it dominates not only the regional but the sub-provincial team this year. And because of the way it’s structured, I do have an NRC team, as does everyone in NSW…
        And if I don’t have a local team, then where’s the passion directed at that level of Rugby? It’s directed negatively again at administrators once again excluding people and being elitist.
        Provincial rugby is something that’s local to everyone in the province. If you don’t connect with your province, then that’s a failing of connection between the province, administrators, your union, and you. I spent a good amount of time growing up in northern NSW. I was the only kid in my class who supported NSW in origin. Everyone else supported Qld. That’s a clear failing of the state in maintaining hearts and minds. I suspect the NSWRU has the same struggles the NSWRL had, and the fact that you don’t connect with the Tahs goes further in showing that they’re considered the Eastern Suburbs Waratahs. It’s not isolated to NSW – it’s very, very rare to have Reds in my region. But that’s not a failing of the concept of provincial rugby – that’s a failing of execution.
        You’ll note – as you quoted – Myles wrote that there are issues with connection over the past 18-24 months. Whereas all I’ve read from you is that Super Rugby was always doomed… That’s a very different perspective.

      • Bakkies

        ‘This is the exact local rivalry that Super Rugby can never provide.
        No Super Rugby teams are local.’

        Apart from Lions and Bulls, Brumbies and Tarts, Reds and Tarts, Blues v Chiefs. Stormers vs Bulls is an intense rivalry in SA.

  • PJ Dinan

    Great article. I’m in Ireland, and a similar situation is developing here, where our club game is suffering because of the provinces going so well professionally. We need a reconnect with our clubs.

    • Pearcewreck

      Yep, except here the game is suffering because our provincial teams and Super Rugby as a whole is going so badly.

    • Bakkies

      PJ the new supporters to Rugby that have jumped on to the provinces don’t have a connection to any senior club in the AIL. If they do it’s likely due to the fact their kids are playing for Shannon, Cork Con, etc. You also see in clubs that there is a disconnect between the underage and adult sections.

  • Pearcewreck

    Yes, yes, yes!!!
    100% spot on Myles of smiles.

    ” Even your staunchest Super Rugby fans (myself included) cannot deny that, over the last 18-24 months, the competition has become, well, boring.
    I’ve always enjoyed watching New Zealand and South African teams play, in addition to the five Australian teams, but keeping up with them, especially the South Africans, has always been a challenge, given their unfriendly time zones.”
    This sums it up exactly.

    “The Lions’ run to the Super Rugby Final last year was a fascinating one.The once annual whipping boys of the competition had finally grown into their strong Currie Cup results, and it was great for the union. Unfortunately, Australian and New Zealand fans missed almost all of this
    fantastic story line. Whilst the bulk of it was being written, we were
    all asleep.”

    Super Rugby is dying.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      How is club rugby going to make people pay attention to the Lions in SA or NZ teams? Are they going to start playing at 9am so we can watch them at a reasonable time if more people here start supporting easts or something? It’s got to be the silliest statement I’ve seen in a long time.

      • Pearcewreck

        Are we having the same conversation?
        Don’t want to be rude, but …..

        • Andrew Luscombe

          No offence taken, nice pic, but it doesn’t explain anything.

        • Who?

          Pearcewreck doesn’t want anyone here supporting the Lions, he wants Super Rugby to die. And club rugby to take its place.

      • jamie

        Point is, we can’t get attached to teams we can’t see in the flesh or rarely watch. Club rugby, on the other hand? They’re your local sparkys and uni students.

      • Bakkies

        Peacewreck, Aus and NZ are always disadvantaged with time zones for international sport regardless of the competition. Even the Force games are on at 12am in NZ for goodness sake.

        The geniuses in the ARU saved by more tv dollars from Europe decide to schedule the June tests at 6am UK time. That’s how badly run the game is in Australia. There will be war in Europe if they arrange the same schedule for the three match Ireland series next year.

  • Aaron Lee

    Great read. We use words like “investment” a lot, but people need to realise it costs a great deal of money to breathe life into this kind of competition.
    Why not help encourage the “investment” by acknowledging the sponsors and refering to the competition as Intrust Super Shute Shield?

    • Hugh Cavill

      Because a) it’s a mouthful and b) it’s not how people actually refer to the competition in general conversation? I’m all for acknowledging sponsors and the contributions they make (and good on Intrust for getting involved), but doing it every time it hampers the flow of an article, and I hate it as a reader.

      • RugbyReg

        yeah we don’t talk about the St George Queensland Reds playing the Road Safety Western Force. Sponsorships are obviously vital, but sponsors can’t expect punters to be dropping their name all over the place. And if they do, then their sponsorship strategy is a little amiss.

        • Aaron Lee

          Perhaps team sponsorships is a different strategy. Competition sponsorship is a different beast.

          Managed properly, it works.

        • Hugh Cavill

          Does it? Do you really refer to the Rugby Championship as the ‘Castrol Edge Rugby Championship’?

        • Aaron Lee

          Yes, it does, when it is managed well, as I said.

        • jamie

          Do you mean the Agronaut Tactics ACM C.D.Dodd Griffin Valuation Advisory Shelf Subsea Fortescue RUC Mining Nitro Sibir Australia
          Programmed Deep4energy Toxfree Wilde and Woollard AFEX Retravision Abbott & Co All Flags Pindan Lavan Property Powerhouse Road Safety Western Force?

      • Aaron Lee

        small price to pay for having a thriving competition on free to air.

      • Bakkies

        It seems to be an Australian and South African thing. You don’t see teams in other Rugby countries have sponsors names prefixed in front of the actual team name

  • Bay35Pablo

    Club rugby is popular again because Super Rugby and the Wallabies are in the toilet. Hard core rugby fans want something to watch, so they are going back to the one level still OK to watch – club.
    If and when Wallabies start winning Bledisloes, and the Tahs start playing decent rugby and winning, it will pick up again.
    Club rugby almost destroyed itself. Those with short memories are quick to blame the ARU, NSWRU and any old FU, and they aren’t completely blameless, but those in club land are a bit like the Roman Senate on the Ides of March – standing around covered in blood saying “What? Me?”.
    These idiots tried paying players and being pro clubs after 1996 and it almost ran them broke. Look at the Woodies – losing TG Milner?!?! That’s criminal. Pulver had a point when he said they had pissed money given to them up against the wall. Some of these clubs have had licenced premises and loads of pokies, yet still seem to be run in the back office less well than a Bunnings sausage sizzle day.
    Norths several years ago changed their tune. Said they wouldn’t pay players. That they were going to put money into resources for the players to make them the best they could be. Few if any players walked away. Add in a good coach and look where they are.
    Really club rugby probably needed to do that 20 years ago, or be told to run it that way, but try telling any chief in NSW rugby how to run his fiefdom and you’ll get short shrift.
    It’s good to see club rugby going OK, but it is no substitute for Super Rugby and the Wallabies doing well again. Without that we may as well be field hockey. Or basketball. How’s that NBL going ….?
    And 5K for norther beaches derbies is all fine and dandy, but when we start seeing that for Easts v Wicks, or (be still my beating heart) Parra v Penrith, then I’ll get excited. Everyone points to the Shute GF last year having 11K, but that had everything in its favour. NSO on the lower North Shore being rugby heart land. Northies playing at home for first time since God played halfback. No NRL team on the lower North Shore for near 20 years.

  • Nick

    Thanks for the article.

ACT & Southern NSW Premier Division

Sports journalist based in Sydney, covering everything from Rugby to NFL and anything in between. Catch me at Concord Oval every Saturday managing the media for the mighty Pirates

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