Wednesday Rugby News - Green and Gold Rugby

Wednesday Rugby News

Wednesday Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News sees RA set to get club rugby rights, Kiwis doubt SA move, coaches break ranks, and the Brumbies poor crowds.


RA Set To Get Club Rugby Rights

Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne

Raelene Castle and Cameron Clyne

Raelene Castles TV Broadcasting package seems to be coming together with Rugby Australia expected to come to an agreement with Shute Shield about the sale of its broadcasting rights.

RA will now be able to shop their premier club rugby competitions to broadcasters in an effort to improve the appeal of showcasing rugby.

Although the competitions themselves have limited monetary value, RA believes it is vital to increase the viewership of the country’s main grassroots competitions.

Moreover, club rugby has been one of the few shining lights in Australian Rugby of late, with large crowds turning out in support of their sides. This support resulted in Fox Sports launching a late bid on the Sydney and Brisbane competitions which was ultimately turned down.

Castle plans to send out non-disclosure agreements to Foxtel, Optus, Amazon, Rugby Pass, and Australia’s three commercial free-to-air networks.

Kiwis Doubt SA Move

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

Photo Courtesy of Keith McInnes

New Zealand Rugby’s CEO Mark Robinson has poured cold water on reports that South Africa plans to leave the Rugby Championship for the Six Nations in 2024.

According to Mr Robinson South Africa remain committed to being apart of Sanzaar until 2025.

“We’re very comfortable in our relationship and South Africa’s relationship with Sanzaar,” Mr Robinson said.

“They are people that we trust, they are very honest and they’ve been great partners over the last 25 years. We would like to think that we would be privy to those sorts of comments or conversations if they had been had,” Mr Robinson said.

The rumours of South Africa’s plans to leave the Rugby Championship, originally reported by British newspaper The Daily Mail, follows rumours that South Africa would also be leaving Super Rugby in 2025.


Coaches Break Ranks

Warren Gatland

New Chiefs Coach Warren Gatland and Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown have criticised New Zealand rugby’s controversial “load management,” policy.

Kiwi Super Rugby sides must give returning All Black players restricted minutes through the first three rounds of Super Rugby, and then rest them from a further two matches throughout the competition.

Brown believes players should be handled on a “case by case,” basis.

“It’s always been the sort of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read plan, where they need to give those guys all a rest.”

“So as to keep it even they made it mandatory to rest every All Black. I think in the past it’s actually cost a few players their All Black careers,” Brown said.

Former Wales coach Gatland believes it should be left to the clubs to manage.

“Everyone is in a different boat. Some might need more than two games off,” Gatland said.

“The people in charge need to trust us and if we don’t do a good job then don’t let us manage them,” he said.

Still No Brumbies Crowds

Dan McKellar

Dan McKellar

Despite winning ten home games in a row, Canberra Stadium continues to see thousands of empty seats.

Despite the impressive winning streak and the development of a more attacking game plan, Canberra crowds are down 17 per cent this season at an average of just 7,267 fans.

Although the season is only two games old, this is the lowest crowd average in the Brumbies history.

But it’s not through lack of trying. Chief Executive Phil Thompson has introduced a number of initiatives to bring fans back, including, game-day initiatives for children, set up a new bar area, and even given away free beers this season (What a legend), but it still hasn’t worked.

It was thought the state of emergency in the ACT was to blame for the season-opener crowd against the Reds, but the crowd figure dropped further the following week against the Rebels.

The Brumbies host a third straight home game on Saturday at 7:15pm against the Highlanders. Here’s hoping a big crowd turns out.

  • Yowie

    “…winning ten home games in a row…free beers”

    As a Reds fan who puts up with much less at home games, what is wrong with Canberra people?

    • Westoout

      Yeah mate I’m with you. The Reds brutal tour is not just a three match impact but a forth as getting home from BA is tough as I just did it. It’s wouldn’t surprise me if the reds struggle against the Sunwolves too. The flip side is a glorious 3 game home run for the Brumbies. Who thought this schedule up? Same goes for the Jags.

    • Timbo

      They’re dickheads. I live here and can confirm Canberra people are self important chodes.

    • MNIMD

      The Stadium in Canberra is a big factor. it is a pain to get to and is isolated from any clubs/pubs making it difficult to include as part of a night out, meaning it’s only really the die hards who make the effort. plus it is way too big, old, and not under cover meaning you have to rug up to go there (not ideal if you want to brave the buses and kick on afterwards)

      There have been plans, which still exist, to build a smaller rectangular stadium in the Canberra CBD (Civic Pool site) which would also be an enclosed stadium. This would mean your could catch a tram into town, go to the game, wear your love gear rather than rugging up and then walk to a pub afterwards.

      It will mean you can go to the game as ‘part’ of your night out, which would attract the more casual fans…..

      We having been hoping and waiting for 5 or so years now…. fingers crossed.

      • Yowie

        That makes a bit more sense. Despite criticism about Suncorp Stadium (versus Ballymore Re atmosphere etc.), Suncorp benefits from public transport infrastructure and is a short walk from dozens of pubs and only a slightly longer walk to the Brisbane CBD.

      • When I went to NZ on holiday, albeit a long time ago and SR was still fresh and exciting, getting out to Eden Park was quite a hike. But you could get a coach from the middle of Auckland for $3, ride out to the match and home again.

        It stopped opposite my hotel, so I took advantage of it, and watched the Blues get stuffed by the ‘Saders. A bit later on I watched the ‘Saders again, this time in Jade Stadium as it was then, which was much easier to reach.

        I know they’re still more rugby mad, but they really did make it easy to get there.

      • Deeeeeejay

        Faders don’t seem to have a problem packing the joint the last couple years. It’s obviously a factor but maybe not as major as some like to think.

    • Howard

      Size of cities? Reds hardly draw them in either

      • Yowie

        All true. The original post was more of a light-hearted joke about how (as a Reds fan) I’d love a string of home game wins and free beer. It seems to have provoked some analysis however.

        • Reds Revival

          I’d even be happy with a string of free beers and a Reds win…

        • provoking analysis…I’ll have to remember that line.

        • Yowie

          It might be an understated way to refer to the next Folau-style apeshit blow-up in the comments section :p

        • Yes, I noticed the provoking insight you mention..

  • issac maw

    I was there on Friday noght at Canberra. No real excuse why people didn’t turn up. Gamr starts at 7 and finishes just before 9 making it still a reasonable hour to get home. Its just getting to the stadium. The parking is horrible they charge 10 dollars and you can find yourself walking over a km. Why they never built a multi story Carpark there baffles me. The AIS and CIT there would.make it viable even without the stadium.

    • RF

      I love rugby, played all my life, regular at Shute Shield, go to all the tests, Rugby Pass dominates my tv screen at weekends and had been a Waratahs member for years. I’ve fallen out of love with Super Rugby dramatically in the last few years.

      It’s a meaningless dud of a competition.

      I know many in the same position as me. Brumbies attendances, relatively speaking, seem decent enough given the population etc.

      • AllyOz

        You down voted yourself RF? You didn’t agree with what you said? Sometimes the voices in my head argue with each other too.

  • Huw Tindall

    The Highlanders game may be out another 1500 or so kiwi fans after two derby games and push the number back to 9k which is nice but it’s aost like the Barmy Army filling out test grounds. We need to get non hard core rugby people back into the game. Buggered if I know how but we need to compete across all facets of game day and be the best Saturday arvo/evening out going around.

  • Ron Botswell

    Brumbies crowds are just an unfortunate bi-product of the fall of super rugby. Expansion to 5 teams and spreading talent making Australia virtually non-competitive in super rugby for years on end, re-structuring the competition so that nobody understands it and doubling the worst games (home and away Australian derby’s) has created an overarching disinterest in the competition.

    A very strong Raiders also doesn’t help.

    The Brumbies are great, and doing all the right things, but their crowds are an unfortunate product of that overarching disinterest in the competition.

    • Kevino

      Funny how Australian sides were non competitive when there was five teams in a 15 team comp Australia.

      Reds and Tahs both won there only titles during this period. 4 out of 5 years two Australian teams managed to make finals. The death of Australian rugby was not having 5 teams, it was expanding to 18 teams and making the comp even more confusing to the average viewer. Since than Australian rugby has dropped off, not before. The move to 5 teams was the right call. The local derbies meant something, the crowds were solid and TV viewings were good to.

      Australian Rugby sold it sole when they let SA add a 6th team and SANZAR add the Argies and Japanese. The TV deal was great and that’s all they cared about. Not the facts that most fans hated the format, were confused to how the groups would work come finals.

      • Ron Botswell

        Yep, there was often 1 or 2 strong sides. But also often 3 non-competitive. There was an entire season we didn’t beat a kiwi side across all 5 teams from memory. Years of being unable to get a win against the kiwis, and maybe 2 sides that are a write off, isn’t being competitive collectively.

        • Kevino

          The years were no Aussie team beat a Kiwi was once the format changed to 18 teams. 2011-15 all Aussie teams managed wins against Kiwis. In 2015 the Rebels even won 3/out of 4.

      • Gun

        At the end of the day Super Rugby is a dud. It wasn’t always this way but in the sporting marketplace now it isn’t attracting viewers at games (everywhere) or on telly (in oz).
        Maybe a viable national Comp can emerge from club rugby (something people have advocated for over many years particularly in the 80/90s) out of the mooted club championship as AFL did out of VFL.

        • LBJ

          Try giving people what they actually want – instead of what administrators want them to want…

      • AllyOz

        I personally see it the other way. I think we should drop back to three and keep the Sunwolves.

        • Who?

          I think Kevino’s point was more that it wasn’t about the number of teams, it was about the format. Conferences weren’t well received, but what sort of idiot puts together a conference system with an uneven number of teams?! Four conferences of 5, 5 4 and 4 teams?! Why didn’t they just go with something logical, like 6 (Kiwis + Pumas), 6 (Oz + Wolves) and 6 (Saffas)..? Top 8, based on top two from each conference and two ‘wildcard’ positions (whoever the next two on the table might’ve been).
          Or they could’ve just kept it straight home and away – we ended up with about that many rounds anyway.
          The problem during S14/S15/S18 wasn’t the quality of our teams, it was the quality of the competition structure.

    • RF

      Don’t think 5 teams is the issue, nor is the quality of the teams.

      The problem is the competition is not fit for purpose.

      • John Tynan

        Can you expand a bit on not fit for purpose?

        • RF

          Top tier competition for professional rugby. Has an incoherent structure, no buy-in at grass roots, inadequate media coverage, no geographical foundation for its existence, no marketing, no commercial might, no interest from the public.

    • AllyOz

      The Raiders comments are fair enough, quite possibly a factor over the course of the season but the Raiders aren’t playing yet and Super Rugby is literally the only game in town at the moment. So I am not sure that it can explain the 19% drop this season.

      • McWarren

        I think the main reason is the early start to the season. We avid fans may be ready for kick off, but many are still in summer sports mode. I don’t understand it, but I can sit in a grandstand sweating like a bricklayer in Baghdad watching the cricket and not be concerned, I even look forward to it. But with rugby, well I like my rugby viewing in cooler months. I suspect it is because for cricket you only have to concentrate for 2 seconds every minute, with rugby you need to be watching the whole time, scrum resets aside. Maybe it’s easier to concentrate on the game when you’re mind is elsewhere worrying about if you’ll actually dehydrate yourself to death with another beer or rum.

    • Frosty morning

      I think the real problem is that hardly anybody knows anything about the super rugby competition. My family and I are avid Brumbies supporters and have hardly missed a match in 10 years, but my kids’ school friends have no exposure whatsoever to super rugby. No free to air TV coverage (in my opinion that has been the major cause of the downfall in interest in super rugby), very little if anything on the news or in the papers, no school visits from rugby development officers/Brumby players etc.

      Compare it with league or AFL – extensive free to air coverage, school visits/coaching clinics/free stuff for school kids, the media full of stories etc etc. Most kids can rattle off the names of dozens of their favourite league and AFL players but they struggle to name a single rugby player, let alone even know what teams are in the competition.

      If RA are serious about saving rugby in general and super rugby in particular they have to get people interested. Take a hit and hand out thousands of free tickets to schools and universities. Do whatever it takes to get super rugby on free to air TV. Subsidise food and beverage outlets so a family can afford to attend and buy a drink and a pie. Force the players to make public appearances and engage with the masses, not just the hard core fans.

    • Basic mathematics, manipulated by me slightly, to suit my agenda.(Figures rounded off due to laziness):

      Last time I bothered looking-

      Around 40 000 regd senior male players.
      4 SR teams.
      10 000 players to each squad.

      Obviously not all aspire to play at a high level, some no doubt are incapable.

      All I know is if I had 10000 odd base to pull from and failed…

      • Yowie

        All I know is if I had 10000 odd base to pull from and failed…

        The whole “The Game” / pickup artist thing didn’t work for me either….

        • Dunno, you just showed some interest…gotta pic?

        • Yowie

          I’m too busy repairing disposable lighters.

        • *sigh*
          Thats what they all say…
          Is it me?

        • Yowie

          Haha “yes i do believe in mystical bullsh!t”

        • I bet your scorpio…or sommit

        • Yowie

          That book (and the subculture around it) seem to require the practitioner to become a harassing tosser. The over-saturation of bars (etc) by millions of blokes running the same techniques seems to be counter-productive to their individual success too.

        • Ya, interesting what some think work..
          When i was younger all the girls I met would try and knock down the door.
          Sometimes for fun Id let them out…

        • Yowie

          Locking someone on a high-rise balcony can get weird tho…

          The main benefit seems to be getting shy blokes to start talking to a lot of women, then by the law of averages some short or long-term relationships might come out of it. Eg going from a 0/0 strike rate to 1/50 or whatever.

        • Just like a Tahs game plan

        • Reds Revival

          So only 48 more losses before the Tahs get a win?

        • As long as they keep “running the same techniques – and being counter-productive to their individual success” as aforementioned.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Superugby crowds in general has been very poor recently, however if you team wins and you can not get supporters there, how will it looks like when you start losing?

    • Ads

      Like my bloody Tahs – shithouse!

  • formerflanker

    The small crowds may have something to do with 3-minute scrums, impenetrable breakdown penalties, emphasis on defence, reliance on pick and drive to score tries from 10m out, and the lottery called scrum penalties.

    • Keith Butler

      Right on all counts FF.

    • Ads

      100%. The converse is also true for the popularity I think in Shute Shield. Yes the standard is lower, but it just feels soooo much less cynical and in the spirit of the game.

      • LBJ

        Bang on – Going to a Shute Shield game is just plain old-school fun. And I get change from $50 for the family cause kids are free and beers are $7. Winning is secondary to catching up with my mates and then walking home. Simple.

        Going to a super rugby game on the other hand has begun to feel like a chore fuelled by a sense of obligation.

        • AllyOz

          That’s what Super Rugby was like at Ballymore to be honest. You would play your game in the afternoon then come into Ballymore and catch up with mates, sit on the hill etc. Suncorp is an excellent stadium but, for me, it never had that same atmosphere for rugby. Rugby is a social game and i think sometimes the stadiums have less of that feel perhaps?? I am also not sure about the early start to the season. I am not sure people are switched onto winter sports yet. We are still playing cricket, summer holidays are just over.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Is this really so different to 15 years ago though? The rules are now more favoured towards the attacking team.

      A huge issue for the Brumbies in particular is how well the Raiders are currently doing. It’s unfortunate that at the exact moment the Brumbies came good the Raiders came better.

    • Ron Moloney

      Fully agree that the boring time wasting time to get a scrum outcome is a turn off to me (a rugby fanatic) and is not a part of the game that would attract new fans to the game. It’s become a farce with continual resets, referees having a debate with front row players and then awarding a lottery penalty which could determine the result of the game.

      If I remember rightly under the Experimental Variation Laws EVLs a few years ago the referees quickly awarded a short arm penalty for scrum infringements and the ball was back in play again and the game flowed.

      • Who?

        Pretty well everything was a FK under the ELV’s, so pretty well every other ruck had a FK…
        Just set a shot clock timer on setting scrums, and call time off. Similar to the play clock in the NFL. Set it so that you lose 20 seconds to set a scrum, but have 60 (i.e. you get an extra 40 seconds to set your first scrum, but you don’t lose that as time in play). For a reset, the clock automatically stops from when the ref whistles the scrum dead until the scrumhalf feeds the ball for the reset. It means you can’t have teams shut up shop (as Wales did in their RWC QF against France, where they had a man advantage, after they finally were gifted the match winning score) by scrumming and resetting scrums (in that game, Wales wasted about French ‘time wasting’ until they got the lead, then Jaco let them waste far more time than the French did).

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Hamish, I think RA is making the right noises and I hope it turns out ok. I think Super Rugby and the RC has to change to be relevant. Not sure what the solution is but as they say “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got” I just don’t think the people running SANZAAR have the answers either.
    Agree 100% with Gatland and Brown this whole one size fits all is rubbish

  • RF

    Crowds in Canberra are very poor, but it is still about 2% of the population. If the Waratahs could do that then there would be 20,000 disappointed ticketless supporters outside of a packed ANZ Stadium every matchday.

    Leads to the bigger question about the viability of pro rugby in Australia. Is a professional team viable in Canberra? Certainly is in my opinion, but not while we continue to flog the dead horse that is Super Rugby. If we are to continue with this then we cut the wrong team.

    I am hoping that the future of top tier Australian rugby moves beyond Super Rugby as the Brumbies will be an essential part of our future.

  • Jason

    I very much doubt that South Africa aren’t planning a move North. It’s very convenient Rugby NZ to come out and say it because that way they can deny it, but also say ‘oh we had no idea they were leaving’ when they do eventually leave.
    If SA aren’t leaving, planning on leaving, thinking about leaving, then why haven’t the SARU come out and said it; why haven’t the Six Nations Unions come out and said it. Until we have categorical and unequivocal denial form these parties, I’ll trust the evidence of South Africa’s actions over the last several years, they are going north, they are not invested in SAANZAR long term.

    • RF

      Knowing them they are probably just playing hardball with the other SANZAR nations, knowing that NZ and Australia will always cave.

      • Jason

        Yeah, that’s a possibility too, they could simply be posturing in order to get something from the RA/NZRU but I’m not sure there is anything left to give, maybe the NZRU could make some kind of concession about something, but the RA and NZRU have been bleed dry for different support they could give to the SARU.

      • Jason

        Yeah, but the problem is what for… What more do Australia/New Zealand have to give them, they’ve just about chocked the game out of existence in Australia.They’ve blocked the one chance for us to have some kind of independence. I don’t know there is anything SA can take from us anymore.

  • Bernie Chan

    Very interesting video of Rassie Erasmus speaking to his RWC squad..about the scarifies players are willing to make to become a Springbok and their trajectory, and how players can them become “entitled” and a toxic influence. He used himself as a prime example…

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Hamish, I think RA is making the right noises and I hope it turns out ok. I think Super Rugby and the RC has to change to be relevant. Not sure what the solution is but as they say “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got” I just don’t think the people running SANZAAR have the answers either.
    Agree 100% with Gatland and Brown this whole one size fits all is rubbish

  • Neil Pocock

    I would be asking a deeper more complicated question about how continuing crowd losses develop…… Have they looked if it’s the typical christian and Polynesian and others that have lost interest?

  • Reds Revival

    On the game attendance issue, I read a book (yes, one with pages and everything). No point really, I just wanted to brag about reading a book…
    No the book was called Marketing Outrageously, and it had a case study of the owner of the Portland Trailblazers NBA team. When he bought them, they were bottom of their conference and attendance was terrible. Like others have suggested, he gave away free tickets to school kids. He created family entertainment at the games, and he would promote the stars of the other teams rather than his own “under performers”. Crowd numbers increased, his franchise became profitable, and he was able to buy better quality players.
    The Super Rugby clubs need to get their head around the fact that they are in the entertainment business, not just selling tickets to rugby games. They are competing for a share of everyone’s discretionary entertainment budget. Whether that is a dinner out, or other sporting and entertainment events, people need to choose going to the rugby above those other offerings. I like what Phil Thompson at the Brumbies has done, and it will start to pay dividends, but it is not a one game turnaround.
    I’m not sure if all the rugby franchises get that they are a form of entertainment?

    • While I agree with everything you say, a while ago I was having a chat with a friend of mine and said if I was going to “a game” and especially if I was taking a friend, I’d be far more likely to go to a 7’s tournament.

      The price for the tickets is similar, at least here, but it’s all day rather than one match. Add to that, regardless of where you sit, you know the action will come your way soon. In 15-a-side you know there’s a chance that the action will be 20 rucks in front of you, which is great, but for the next 30 minutes it’s just as likely to be rucks, scrums and lineouts that you need a telescope to see. Then a tackle and an offload in front of you, and they’re off for another 15 minutes…

      Much though I love rugby, and I’m an ardent fan, it’s becoming a TV spectacle for me, except for the odd special occasion. If the stadium can make the occasion special though… that would get me (or us) there more often. “Come celebrate your anniversary with a 2-star meal and then the match!” Yes, sure. “Come celebrate your birthday, watch the match in a comfy seat and with an in-seat TV so you don’t miss any of the action.” Absolutely.

      • Reds Revival

        You’re definitely on the right track, EP. Clubs have to think how they can “value add” to the product. Things that will make the game day experience even better for the people to attend. In it’s prime, the atmosphere of being at the game made it far more appealing than watching it on TV. However, with 3/4 empty stadia, there is no atmosphere.

        I also blame the caterers at these venues. To say that they are price gouging, because they have a captive audience is an understatement, but that has also been brought about by the exorbitant lease fees they pay to the stadium owners. Perhaps a pre purchased meal deal that is discounted would make it more appealing?

        However, I am curious as to what a 2 star meal is? Is that a Michelin 2 stars, or a pie and chips?

        • Given I was talking about an anniversary dinner, I was thinking more along the lines of two Michelin stars than pie and chips!

          I haven’t been there and I assume it’s still quite expensive, but Stadium La Defence is basically open 5 days a week or so as a major venue. Rugby is its biggest single income source, but not its biggest by sector – they have a lot of pop concerts for example, and a lot of big conferences. Helps mitigate the lease costs if the food and drink places are open more or less like a regular restaurant or bar.

        • Reds Revival

          I didn’t want to question your culinary tastes, but you did say that you were a rugby girl… Most rugby guys would consider a pie and chips as Michelin 2 star (but only if it is served with beer, which then upgrades it to 3 stars).

        • I’ve got old and come to enjoy the finer things in life, at least occasionally. I still go to the chippy regularly but for an anniversary dinner I’d want something a bit fancier. As would my other half if she’s going to come to the match with me!


Aspiring sports journalism with a passion for all things rugby. Currently studying journalism at the University of Wollongong.

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