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Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News

Wednesday’s Rugby News looks at the Brumbies preparations in Argentina, the push to move rugby to free to air, Joe Powell’s upcoming battle with his past and the quest to maintain young talent.


Brumbies taken back to 2004

Arnold in full flight.

Arnold in full flight.

Brumbies and Wallabies lock Rory Arnold is confident that the side can extend their winning streak to nine games and end their 15-year Super Rugby drought with strong performances over the next fortnight.

The Brumbies are currently on a club record seven straight winning streak and are looking to earn their spot in their first final since 2013 when they take on the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday morning.

However, the Jaguares are in a richer vein of form, winning 10 from their last 11 games, including a win over the Brumbies, which has Arnold wary of the challenge ahead.

“They’re a world-class team, full of international players, they’ve got a good record and been playing some really good footy, so it’s going to be a hard task with the travel and everything but we’ve won there before,” Arnold said.

Despite their class, Arnold was confident that the Brumbies could handle the Jaguares up front, backing his fellow forwards to muscle up and get the job done.

“We’ve got some quality players in our pack with big Al (Allan Alaalatoa) and Sammy (Carter). From one to eight we’ve got good players than some more on the bench. I’m quite confident our pack will match theirs.

“We’ve had some pretty good sides in the past but I think as a squad we’re gelling really well and that’s showing on the field at the moment. I back our squad and ability to go over there and get the job done.”

The Brumbies are hanging on to slim hopes of hosting the grand final, which will become reality with victory over Jaguares and if Hurricanes can upset the Crusaders, however, Arnold was refusing to look ahead and lose focus ahead of the moumental clash.

“It would be unreal to host the final when they were farewelling us (on Saturday night) I was like you never know we might be back here in a couple of weeks.”

“That would be unreal but we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, we’ve got a big game this week and we need to get the result.”

Set it free

Liam Wright and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto tackle Joaquin Diaz Bonilla

Liam Wright and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto tackle Joaquin Diaz Bonilla

Rugby Australia is open to creating more free to air opportunities for rugby union to be televised in their next broadcast deal in 2021.

The deal would look to make the NRC, Junior Wallabies and even certain Super Rugby games available to all broadcasters.

The current deal has ensured that domestic rugby has been hidden behind the paywall of Foxtel since the inception of Super Rugby in 1996, with only Wallaby test matches, Global Rapid Rugby and one delayed Super Rugby match is shown on free to air.

CEO Raelene Castle revealed that Rugby Australia is looking to create more opportunities to open up access to their content in their next broadcast deal as viewership and attendance continues to fall.

“It’s part of the process that we’ll bring to the negotiation table as a strategic focus area for us, recognising that for Fox and for Channel Ten what’s important is that more people engage with rugby,” she said.

“So how do we do that is we’ve got to make sure rugby is accessible to more people and that’s about free-to-access, not necessarily just free-to-air, although that’s certainly an option with the Wallabies which is fantastic.”

“But how do we get access for either Super Rugby or NRC type products, the 20s playing in international competitions. How can we make some of that available so that all rugby fans in Australia can have access to that?”

Castle pointed to the Rugby Xplorer app as a form of expansion for rugby union based content, which has previously been used to simulcast competitions such as the Super W and the AON Uni 7s.

“The days of that just being on TV is not the reality of the modern world we work in so for example on Rugby Xplorer, our own app, how can we deliver content there so people can engage with us?”

“The technology’s moved so much now with the Netflixes of the world, people are used to dealing and working that onto their big screen TV.”

Powell’s ghosts of Rugby’s past

Joe Powell clears the ball

Joe Powell clears the ball

Joe Powell will face some familiar foes in his quest to clinch a grand final berth, along with securing his dream World Cup position.

Powell will go head to head with former Brumby and the current Argentina halfback Tomas Cubelli in their semi-final clash on Saturday morning.

The Brumbies push to the finals has led many to push Powell as a potential Wallaby bolter, however, his position has been clouded by the impending return of Nic White who is set to join an undisclosed Super Rugby club in 2020.

This has created a unique opportunity for Powell to show his development since gaining the starting role after starting off as White’s understudy in 2015 before spending two years behind the pint-sized Argentian.

Despite the pressure of ending the Brumbies Super Rugby drought and a potential gold jersey on the line, Powell was looking forward to facing up against his old mentor, stating that the team was eager to rip into their old team-mate.

‘I’m looking forward to it, I love playing against Tomas. He was great for the Brumbies when he was [in Canberra] and all the boys like him, but I’m sure we’re ready to whack him as well,’’ Powell grinned.

He was full of praise for the work that Cubelli has done to improve his game, singling out his confidence and running ability as his main areas of strength.

“The way he runs the ball and backs himself on the field, he’s got that flair about him and he’ll try anything, he definitely helped me out with those sorts of things.”

Powell refused to be drawn into talks of White’s return and the potential Wallaby positions that are up for grabs for himself and his teammates, stating that there was a good feeling around the group that they could get the job done.

“To be honest we haven’t really been thinking too far ahead,” Powell said. “Those things [winning Super Rugby] are in the back of everyone’s mind and we obviously want to do it, so we’ll see what happens from here.”

“There’s a really good feeling around the place at the moment. I can’t put my finger on it, we went through some tough times at the start of the season but we’re reaping the rewards of hard work.”

Keeping Joeys in the Castle

Psst. What did the Roosters offer you

Psst. What did the Roosters offer you

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle is hoping that the recent success of the Junior Wallabies at the U20 World Championships will convince prodigious young talent to stay in rugby union.

Castle has urged Junior Wallabies and fellow promising young talent to reject the exuberant offers that will come from rival codes to stay in rugby long term after the Under 20’s side returned from their one-point loss to France in the final of the World Championships on Tuesday.

She was full of praise for the efforts put in by coach Jason Gilmore and the squad, which saw them qualify for the final for the first time since 2010, bringing much needed positive ready headlines.

“It was a hugely successful campaign and I think the work that has been done over the last four or five years to build that system … it bought them together and they are a special group of young guys,” Castle said.

Castle recognised that the sport faces a significant threat from other codes who have already poached promising talents such as Izaia Perese, Joseph Suaalii and Luca Moretti.

However, she was hoping to maintain the core of this squad with the allure of the Wallaby good jersey, stating that the opportunity to represent their country still rang true for these players.

“The fighting fund was important to make sure we keep these talented young guys because the best five or six out of this group have all had scouts from other codes chasing them,” Castle said.

“We face a really challenging market. There are people with much bigger chequebooks than us but the thing they can’t deliver is a Wallaby green and gold jersey and that is really important. The opportunity to represent your country still holds true and that is what we continue to talk to this group about.”

“When you spend the time and money investing in that young talent you want to make sure you maximise the opportunity to have that engaged in our Wallaby system…and we’ve got the opportunity with some of these boys in this group to do that.”

  • Who?

    Nath – Tahs were in the Final in 2014, not the Brums. Brums lost to the Chiefs in the 2013 Final. ;-)

    • Nathan Williamson

      Good spot, it has been updated

      • Yowie

        I actually prefer the version of history with fewer Tahs finals.

        • Geoffro

          I’d prefer a version with fewer Crusader finals….bastards

  • From hidden behind the paywall of Foxtel – to free to access.
    A good step, one that should have been taken years ago.

    An idea a sport would succeed with money but without a player and fan base, and then create arguments to justify that decision whilst it withers and becomes irrelevant…
    Its far from the only issue facing Aust Rugby, but its a start.

    • Geoffro

      Sure it’s a start and I’d welcome fta though I honestly dont begrudge the 5 bucks or so a week that I pay for Kayo. (slightly more if your on fuxsports).The cost of attending a game live is one I cant afford – special occasions at the best.As you say it is one of many issues.Success on the field puts bums on seats and recall the record crowds when the wallas and our sr teams (relatively) were going well in the early oughties when there was still no fta

      • disqus_NMX

        $5/wk on Kayo might not sound like a lot, but if you’re not already a rugby fan, you’re never going to pay it. And that adds up to $250/yr, which is more than the price of a test ticket and a couple of super rugby tickets??? And these day, how many of these little $250/yr (or more, or much more) rents are we faced with… spotify, netflix, internet, phone, power, health insurance, house insurance, car insurance, sports club fees, gym fees, school fees, and so on… it adds up to so much that most people have to chose which of them they can have and which they do without. When I want to watch a super match, I don’t bother with fox or kayo, I go to the local surf club and spend my $5 on a nice cold XXXX Gold instead. I’d watch more games if it was fta, and I’m already a rugby fan. I’m glad things like kayo exist, but I am sick of paying ever increasing rents for everything under the sun.

        • Dud Roodt

          To be fair, you don’t only get Super Rugby for the $5. If you’re into motor racing, NFL, Basketball, cricket etc you also get access to them

        • Try the Chess Boxing, both intellectual and brutal.
          Or so they tell me…

        • Who?

          I know it’s not ALL the NFL, but we get 3 NFL games – minimum – per week on 7Mate during the season. So there’s less reason to get Kayo for NFL than for Rugby. That’s wrong…

        • Geoffro

          Ony have to give up one beer out of the severa I consume per week prob a good thing. Many serious sports fans subscribe for one thing or another so the potential audience is still wide.Reckon Id still subscribe if fta.Kayo is good and you can watch a replay when you want etc,etc

      • $5? I pay $25
        I want your contacts!

        • Geoffro

          per week…5 or 6 thereabouts

        • Perhaps I should up my comprehension skills…

        • Who?

          I did similar yesterday. Maybe we should both up our contacts..? Or lens prescriptions?

        • No doubt mate.
          Some sleep would be good too
          edit: Geez… I only just got the joke too

        • Who?

          Hearing ya. Same boat. :-(

    • paul

      Curious after 20 years, the RA all of a sudden extolling the virtues of fta platforms, yet up until now we’ve been told this is not an option, what possibly could have changed???

      • Dud Roodt

        What I would suggest is the case behind closed doors is that the next Foxtel deal is going to be less than the current one, so RA will be looking to get placement on FTA. My guess would be in some sort of rev share model rather than a straight license fee.

        Make no mistake – rugby hasn’t had an option of signing an exclusive deal with FTA up to this point.

        • paul

          Make no mistake that rugby has made no genuine attempt to give itself any fta options.

          And a small translation Foxtel is broke.

        • Dud Roodt

          “Make no mistake that rugby has made no genuine attempt to give itself any fta options.”

          That’s just blatantly incorrect. No matter your feelings about RA and their ineptitude, of which there is obvious examples in almost every area, they have indeed attempted to get onto FTA – the simple fact of the matter is, FTA hasn’t wanted to buy the rights to the sport.

          “And a small translation Foxtel is broke.” – absolutely.

        • Id say the paul made a reasonable statement Dud.
          The way it was explained to me, was they saw the variance in cash amount between shared, or Fox only, to be too great and went the cash route.
          Then they locked in and refused to move after that.

        • Dud Roodt

          Yeah it was absolutely a cash decision – go the FTA route and face financial ruin, or take the money from Fox.

          I would say a statement such as “rugby has made no genuine attempt to give itself any fta options” as unreasonable and factually incorrect.

        • Maybe – “decided its own FTA options based on payout figures” would be more a reasonable statement.

        • paul

          Yet here we are after taking all that cash and now we’re facing financial ruin, some would say we didn’t exactly spend it wisely.

        • Dud Roodt

          Well that’s a different argument then.

        • And yet here they are, facing financial ruin

        • paul

          It hasn’t wanted to buy the rights to Super rugby, that is my point.

          Is was and never will be interested in Super rugby, it is a pay TV product. Full Stop.

          If rugby wants to become more mainstream, it needs to deal with that issue.

          Continue with Super and the game will always be a niche sport and just appeal to a niche audience.

          It has nothing to do with my feelings regards RA, but you want a larger audience you first need a product capable of reaching that audience.

        • Dud Roodt

          I don’t really understand what point you’re trying to make.
          You say RA has “made no genuine effort attempt to give itself any fta options” but seem to think the “genuine attempt” entailed ditching the competition to which they a part of and which gives them the vast majority of their revenue with which to run their business?
          Because I thought we were talking about selling rights to the game in all its forms to FTA? Not completely removing ourselves from Super Rugby

        • paul

          I’m sorry Dud Roodt, we have a major difference of opinion and options.

        • disqus_NMX

          The irony is that FTA will create more fans, and grow Foxtel’s payer base, and thus grow the size of the Foxtel deals!

      • Stream options perhaps, then RA can charge a small fee for content?
        Doesnt fit under the free category of course.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      The issue is whether FTA TV will provide the funding needed to pay the players (and everyone else) in the professional era. I’m not so sure it will and RA will need to find some big sponsors if they lose Foxtel and go to FTA.

      • Wouldnt disagree with that in the slightest Kiwi.
        Catch22, but staying as is seems not an option.

    • In the UK, when Sky started showing sports, the government stepped in and had some “protected sports” that Sky isn’t allowed to bid on. So Wimbledon, the finals of the other tennis majors, Welsh Rugby Test matches, the Olympics and Paralympics, the FA Cup, the Rugby League Challenge Cup and some other things (I don’t remember the entire list but they’re the things I’m aware of, or can remember off the top of my head) are all protected and on FTA. Scottish, French and Irish Rugby home tests, during the 6N and the November window are also FTA, but only highlights of English home tests are.

      The domestic season is technically not FTA, but BT Sport which has the rights to the Gallagher Premiership has a deal with Channel Four to show a number of games during the season as part of its “growing the game” agreement. I can’t find the exact numbers easily, but the domestic season is split into about 5/6 sections with interruptions for the European Cup, November Tests, Six Nations, etc. and there’s more or less one FTA game per section from the 22 rounds.

      Viewing numbers for the 6N are relatively huge. The Gallagher Premiership on C4 is not so big – it’s a bit intermittent and the fans are watching it on BT anyway. But it’s not tiny. When Wales beat England this year, there was a peak audience of 8.9M viewers, and the average was about 8.5M. For context, the final of Britain’s Got Talent, prime time, huge show, had a peak of 10.6M but an average of 8.5M too (they don’t break down how, but presumably a lot of fans watched the whole of the Wales v England match, people tuned in the for the results of BGT). This summer’s big show, Love Island, is reaching about 5.9M – that’s with a different calculation of live views + streaming catch-up combined.

      FTA might not earn you advertising revenue (at least on the BBC, although some 6N are also broadcast on ITV now) but the companies pay for the right to broadcast still, and it’s certainly doing a pretty good job of bums on seats in the UK, and pounds in pockets too.

      • Who?

        Eloise, we’ve got similar in terms of FTA-only events here. It’s called the Anti-Siphoning List. Subscription TV (so, basically, Fox Sports) isn’t prohibited from buying those events (which include Wallabies Tests, League Tests and State of Origin, Cricket, AFL, etc), but there’s a condition that the games are required to be available on FTA should any network (from SBS through to 7) wish to pay for it.
        .
        This has seen situations where SBS has, at the last minute, chosen to air Spring Tour Tests, and has (I believe) purchased them for bargain basement prices. The coverage is usually an interview (last year, they got an Ella brother before each test, pre-recorded), then a host running very briefly into the NH commentary. Low cost for SBS, but does the job. Where Fox have their team running it, and paid higher prices. Think that also happened to the Ashes (Cricket, in England – maybe 2005?), where they’d been too one-sided and so SBS got them for next to nothing.
        .
        The list does get revised. It used to be that F1 was (largely?) on there, we used to get all the GP’s, but now we see none of them.
        .
        How would FTA work for Rugby? Well, I think that it’d be poor financially, at first. I think it could grow (but I can’t guarantee that – not against dominant AFL and League – Saturday night’s the target time for FTA, there’s no League on FTA on Saturday, hence why Nine (the League network) bought the RA Test rights a few years ago (now with Network 10)), but it would need time and attention (neither of which have been provided for years by an FTA network).

        • You can guarantee none of it works without trying, but you’re right, probably none of it works without a host channel putting a reasonable amount of time and effort it in too.

  • AllyOz

    Some random thoughts:
    4. Televise the Folau trial – looks like it would rate high from all the media interest.
    1. I wonder if NRC is less likely to get televised if you need a broadcast partner to actually record the games. Some of the other stuff like Junior Wallabies where you just have to buy the feed might be easier. Would RA consider an arrangement similar to Shute Shield where they line up sponsorship/advertising to cover the broadcast costs?
    3. Joe Powell has played well enough this season to be considered one of the best two options for Wallabies run on selection if not the first choice. Genia didn’t finish in the best of form but the break might freshen him up. I hope they give each of them a decent run in the RC and not just 5 minutes at the end of the game. Both are well ahead of Nick Phipps who isn’t even the best half for his province.
    2. I am assuming that for the Brumbies to host the final they obviously have to win and the Crusaders lose?? for them to be the highest remaining side in the comp?

    • Steve

      2. I am assuming that for the Brumbies to host the final they obviously have to win and the Crusaders lose?? for them to be the highest remaining side in the comp?

      That’s correct. I actually give the Brumbies about a 50% chance, but the Canes are probably on 20%, so 10% that the Brumbies host.

      I guess stranger things have happened

      • Custard Taht

        I reckon the Hurricanes are going to push the Crusaders all the way. Hopefully, there isn’t any dew on the ground, should be a belter of a game.
        The Hurricanes are a chance.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          YES!!!!

    • Yowie

      Re Item 4, (televised Folau trial), see exclusive TV trailer on GAGR first:-

      https://youtu.be/mCjBspxuUmU?t=7

    • Perth girl

      Have you seen Isaak Fines play for the Force?

      • Geoffro

        Fines and Deegan woud be great grabs for those SR sides losing their halves

      • You werent one of the Issak cheer squad members at the Kagifa Samoa game were you PG? *wink*

        • andrewM

          Umm..squirming uncomfortably in my seat..PG is a teeny bit older than those young ladies HO, but no less beautiful (hmm..think I got away with that)

        • Lol, nicely stated Im sure Andrew

      • AllyOz

        Yes and the game I watched against Samoa he had a ripper as did Deegan when he came on late. Unfortunately I have no idea what the comparative standard of GRR is just at this stage. I think it would be worthwhile to have both of them (and a number of others) in the Wallaby camp but I don’t think either are ahead of Powell or LLF and I don’t think they would make the final squad.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Bang on mate and that’s the issue with someone playing GRR. How does this compare skill and intensity wise with Super rugby and higher. From what I’ve seen it’s about on par with NRC and only looks better because of the rule changes that are unlikely to be adopted by World Rugby (where it’s needed to go to change) IN a lot of areas I think it’s actually below NRC and more of a good high level club game.

          I agree that players should be looked at but they’d need to prove themselves at a higher level for me.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          I agree that GRR needs experience and high profile players to join GRR to lift the standard of the competition until local talent can step up – hopefully this will realise sooner after the RWC19. Superugby however also have a huge challenge just to maintain the current standard and will be losing experienced and quality players post RWC19 with many sides that will have to rebuild from scratch. I would not be surprised if the standards of these competitions converge quicker than most expect.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          The thing with the loss of talent is that in NZ and SA there are competitions that will provide the depth in the Curry Cup for SA and Mitre 10 Cup for NZ. Much more of an issue here and in Argentina as there isn’t anything to provide that depth

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          There is a limit how many players you can loose even in NZ and SA before quality is impacted. Just looked at the Lions that were in the Top2 in the past couple of years with the final even played in South Africa that could not even make the finals this year. With deep pockets behind the GRR teams and no salary cap, you cannot assume that players would rather play Superugby than GRR with less travel over time zones, etc

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          If they want to play internationally and for test teams they’ll not play GRR

        • AllyOz

          I think there is a rational economic argument that suggests that the flow to Europe won’t be unlimited.

          Admittedly most teams have large companies or individual backers behind them but funds are not unlimited. They might be prepared to make a loss but they will have a limit. Teams and competitions make money from crowds, merchandise sales, TV rights and sponsorship (whether from the company or the individual backer). A foreign player has to be able to contribute to an increase in one of these revenue streams to a greater degree than the local equivalent.

          While there is promotion and relegation in UK, France, Celtic league (or whatever the successor is called) and Japan there are a limited number of top flight teams (12 – 14 in each). It isn’t in the competitions interest to expand these and they have promotion and relegation for this reason. There are also some self-imposed limits around the number of foreigners in some or all of these comps and there is a need to at least have some local stars. If England was to drop out of the RWC in the Pool for two RWC’s in a row for instance then there is a risk that interest in club level also drops away. I think that is part of what we have seen in Australia with Super Rugby crowds.

          So economics would tell us that at some level of talent and some pay level the market would come into equilibrium – both that it doesn’t advantage a SH player to leave once the price falls to a certain level and also it doesn’t make sense to bring in a foreigner when you can get an equivalent NH player (in fact a local is probably better in some respects and you might pay a little more).

          Crowd numbers might be influenced by certain players but there are only so many Dan Carters. There is a big difference between the Dan Carters and a bloke who has spent two weeks in a Wallabies training camp or had a good NRC season. Only the real diehard fans in foreign countries will know who they are. If club owners are interested in winning or making money or both then I think they will make decisions along these lines. 1. Is he a name that can he draw a crowd and improve gate takings and TV ratings (i.e Dan Carter) 2. Can he improve our capacity to win (thereby increase gate takings and TV ratings and prize money). NO? then I will get a local.

        • Who?

          I agree – there’s got to be a benefit. The primary benefit for most players (given most players won’t sell jerseys with their names on them) has to be an increased likelihood of team success. And there’s only so many SH players where that’ll be true. Then factor in the requirement to meet quotas (an area where an SA or PI passport has a significant advantage in Europe over an Australian or New Zealand passport), and the flow can’t be constant.
          .
          But I should note that there’s ongoing talk of ringfencing, of ending promotion/relegation. The top clubs hate it (just as the top Nations hated it when it was floated in the context of League of Nations discussions), the clubs that are promoted require massive cash injections to be anything like competitive before they’re regularly shuffled back into relegation and the lower leagues. I don’t believe there was ever promotion/relegation in the majority of the Celtic/Magners League/Pro14, perhaps only the Italian clubs? But certainly, the English Premiership, there’s been a lot of talk over the last few years as to how to kill it off.
          .
          There’s also one other form of restraint on trade. And it affected, of all people, Dan Carter. DC will never play again in France. The LLR (or whoever it is that runs the Top 14) requires than each arriving player be checked over by independent doctors, to certify they’re fit to play the game (understandable, given they’ve had several deaths in French Rugby over the past couple of years). DC signed on to play in Paris, and was knocked back by the doctors.

        • AllyOz

          That was after a head knock or several concussions for DC, right?

        • From NooZealand

          “A neck injury appears to be the reason Dan Carter’s planned return to French rugby was halted.”

        • Perhaps the scheduled upcoming GRR game against a “As yet unnamed team” maybe against The Cru again.
          That’d be a comparison?
          Considering Cru seem to be in a class of their own, I wouldnt expect the Force to win either.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          It will be a combined Malaysia/SA Falcons team

        • Thanks for that Hannes

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Yeah but what rules? Sorry mate I’m just not a fan

        • Heh, probably Crusaders rules as usual.

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          There are law variation that I do not like e.g. 70 minutes game time and the main difference is that more running rugby is played as there are about 1/2 of the line-outs and much less scrum resets. I use to hate the power try but after seeing Fiji closing the gap on the Force to 26-24 with one long range power try, I am a fan. Any team that gets blown away can take a risk and get back into the game – that is a good thing especially for the spectators. We need a product that can compete with AFL and that entertain enough to attract the attention in Asia – I do not think Superugby is that product.

    • GO THE Q REDS

      On point 4……your not likely to get a LIVE airing simply because you will see it raw and uninterrupted. They won’t have the chance to put their spin on it! A post trail rundown is more likely! Lol

      • AllyOz

        How about the hanging afterwards?

  • Custard Taht

    Unpopular opinion, but I think the Conference system works just fine.
    Despite the whinging and whining about its fairness or apparent lack of, the 4 best teams are the 4 teams still left standing.
    If a team needs a home field to win, then they are not the best team. The remaining 4 teams have been able to get the job done, home and away.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate I tend to agree although I do think finishing 2nd on points and 4th on the table is wrong. The same 4 teams would still be in the finals it would just be a fairer outcome to me to reward the teams with the most points rather than a conference winner with less points.

      • AllyOz

        would that be your team KRL?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Hahahaha well yes this year it is. I’d like to say there’s no bias but not sure I can back that up

        • AllyOz

          I think its a fair point

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      From a commercial perspective I do not think it is working as there were no quarter, semi or final played in the time zone where most commercial value for the broadcasters are derived. Unless South African teams becomes more competitive and in a position to host finals it will impact the revenue of Superugby and the ability to fund the competition. Money corrupts…
      We have seen with the quarter finals that home ground advantage is important, however the second best side in the competition are not rewarded for their performance as they have to play the #1 side in the semi’s.

    • AllyOz

      I don’t hate it as much as some seem to. I am not sure a 14 team home and away is going to be much better while we have such a wide geographic spread of teams. I was sort of hoping that each of the conferences would grow to maybe 8-10 teams with home and away and then the top two would go into a knock out finals or champions cup. That would have allowed for a conference in the Americas and an extension of the NZ and Australian Comps into Asia and Oceania. I know its probably pie in the sky but its still sounds cool to me.

    • I don’t mind the conference system for the main part of the season, although I’ll note since we’ve had it numbers attending games in Australia have declined in parallel. Cause and effect? Not sure.

      This season the top four teams on points happened to be the conference winners and the best runner up, although not in that order. If we ordered them on log points, the Canes would be hosting the Jags and the Saders would be hosting the Brumbies. The QF would have been different too, partially, the Canes would have hosted the Chiefs, the Sharks would have travelled to the Jags and the Brumbies would have played the Brumbies. We don’t know, but I’ll guess we’d have seen the same results.

      In years gone by… it’s just not happened like that though. Last year, on log rankings, it should have been Saders, Canes, Chiefs, Lions, Landers, Tahs, Jags, Sharks in order. (The Tahs lose out to the Landers on the tie break because the Tahs won fewer games.) However, the current conference system moved the Lions up to second and the Tahs up to third. That meant there was a match that the fans in Australia could… well not go to from what I can find of the attendance figures.

      So, I have an issue with the mechanics for the finals phase, even as I understand they’re trying to make sure there’s at least one extra round of interest for each main country.

      This year, for the first time, there’s not a match in a great time zone for SA viewers. Do they get up to watch matches for breakfast? Stay up to watch matches in the middle of the night? Both? The “rugby tragics” will do one of those (or both), yes. Or record them. But if you’re a (for example) disappointed Bulls fan who wants to have some beers with your mates and watch the game, probably not. Advertising revenues are disappointing… which isn’t great in the long term.

      • Andrew Luscombe

        If you’re looking for something that corresponds in timing with the decline in Rugby in Australia, the change in governance from a democratic model to a ‘expert’ board model matches exactly. The peak in attendance was about 2-3 years after the introduction of conferences, right about when the ‘expert’ board took control. Like you say “Cause and effect’? It’s not easy to tell.

        • Could be. I’m a biologist and I’m innately suspicious of anything that happens that fast in populations tbh. Even if you look at fast acting diseases, the condition starts and takes time to spread, and the numbers keep going up after you institute effective countermeasures. There’s a life-cycle of the infectious agent to consider there.

          Intuitively I think there’s a sort of inertia to the viewing public. They like SR and are coming to watch. They’re not keen on the new conference system, so some drop out, but some who missed it last year get tickets off their mates, get promotions and go to more matches or whatever. By the end of year two after they change, the casual fans have really started to vote with their feet though…

          Of course intuition is a bitch, or makes you her bitch, in a lot of these things. I wonder, did the ticket prices change? What happened to median disposable income over that period? What happened to pricing of the TV subscription model? There’s lots of other possible reasons.

        • Andrew Luscombe

          Good points. There’s a number of reasons. Demographics could be one. Rugby in Australia grew greatly through the 80s 90s and 00s. That generation maybe just getting old, and the following one seeing the previous one as a fad. It’s difficult to work out.

    • Andrew Luscombe

      The problem isn’t about the winner at the end. There’s way more to a competition than that.

      The focus on beating teams within the conference means that teams adapt to that – i.e. the Aussie teams don’t improve so much and the NZ teams improve faster, because NZ has a more coordinated, connected, and larger high-standard rugby culture. The separation that conferences bring enhances the differences, and makes the competition less competitive. US sports with conferences all have extensive equalisation measures in place to counter act that – salary caps, drafts, single player market, revenue redistribution.

      The ladder is followed through the year a bit like a race, particularly for any casual fans who might want to pick things up part way through the year. Looking at a ladder with teams out of order of competition points just appears silly to most Australian sports fans. Even in the US where people are used to conferences, they don’t present an out of order ladder, they present separate conference ladders.

      Conferences obviously can work okay, but in SR they have been done badly. It took about 50 years for them to evolve into their modern form the US, and they evolved as part of a wider package of things. You can’t just take bits and pieces from other places, put them together, and expect them to work.

  • Nutta

    Morning Fellow Rugby Fans

    The Cats are a good side. The Donkeys will need to be spot-on to beat them especially without Samu & Poet.

    Pay TV vs Free To Air – is it a good idea in a crowded market-place to let people actually see the game we are trying to promote? What? Actually let a consumer see the product and so through that perhaps generate some frontal-lobe presence and then maybe have them show up to a game or Gods Forbid actually try it? Gee I dunno. Sounds like sedition to me. Next thing someone will want to have an actual functioning top-flight team in somewhere bloody silly like… I dunno … western Sydney perhaps? I mean it’s not as though that expansionist team into an actual rugby-friendly landscape like the ACT ever really worked now did it? Bah! Humbug!

    • Greg

      Morning Nutta.

      I am OK with PayTV.

      I have launched a crowd funding page this morning. It’s going very well, thanks very much.

      • Geoffro

        Yep,I think dipping into the kids school fund and the missus grocery allowance for my sport fix is very unjust. I’d be doing it for them

        • andrewM

          God bless you Geofro. Make sure you adjust your beer allowance too – no point being able to watch more sport on tellie if there are no beers to go with it. Just assure the wife she looks fab in those clothes she bought five years ago.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I preferred the fornicators and drunkards but Good morning to you too mate.

      I still think the issue will be the funding. Hate that it’s such a big issue but if you want to give people like Hooper multi year multi million contracts then you need the money to do it. Why you’d be that wasteful is another question.

  • Missing Link

    Every cloud has a silver lining as the saying goes, thank Izzy, at least now people who have never had an interest or understanding of sport are now aware that Rugby Union exists

    • Well…Maybe its all just a marketing ploy ML
      We’d all feel a bit silly then eh
      (disclaimer: jest)

      • Missing Link

        The Lord works in mysterious ways hahaha

  • Perth girl

    So RA are creating a fighting fund to keep the Junior wallabies at the Tahs!

    • Yowie

      Hahaha how cynical

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Not sure why you say this. Is there anything that demonstrates this or are you just not confident in RA looking outside NSW?

    • Greg

      Is it crowd funded? Perhaps Mr Folau has diverted some excess contributions?

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,

    Nice to hear some confidence from the Brumbies but TBH I’ll be more impressed with a win than with talking about it. Good luck for the weekend and I do hope you win.

    FTA rugby Wow! who’d have thought that was a good idea. Not being able to watch rugby on FTA TV but being able to watch NRL, AFL and other sports has always been an issue. While the club rugby broadcasting has been good I’m not sure that many people outside of the states it’s played cares about it that much and so it hasn’t had much of an effect in challenging the other codes. Super Rugby will provide a real challenge if it gets FTA cover.

    I do hope the U20’s can be retained. History shows that only about 3 or 4 of each year will continue to develop into International senior test players but keeping them is a good start.

  • The Jackal

    Tough to attract any TV money when you lose all the talent every four years. I bet i’ve missed people as well

    Wallabies Leaving Post World Cup

    Sekope Kepu (London Irish)
    Nick Phipps (London Irish)
    Curtis Rona (London Irish)
    Bernard Foley (Kubota Spears)
    Rory Arnold (Toulouse)
    Sam Carter (Ulster)
    David Pocock (Panasonic Wild Knights)
    Christian Leali’ifano (NTT Communications Shining Arcs)
    Adam Coleman (London Irish)
    Quade Cooper (Kintetsu Liners)
    Will Genia (Kintetsu Lines)
    Caleb Timu (Montpellier)
    Scott Higginbotham (Bordeaux)
    Samu Kerevi (Suntory Sungoliath)
    Sefa Naivalu (Stade Francais)

    Super Rugby Internationals Leaving Post World Cup

    Brodie Retallick (Kobelco Steelers)
    Owen Franks (Northampton Saints)
    Sam Whitelock (Panasonic Wild Knights)
    Jordan Taufua (Leicester Tigers)
    Kieran Read (Toyota Verblitz)
    Ryan Crotty (Kubota Spears)
    Jackson Hemopo (Mitsubishi DynaBoars)
    Luke Whitelock (Pau)
    Liam Squire (NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes)
    Waisake Naholo (London Irish)
    Ben Smith (Pau)
    Nehe Milner Skudder (Toulon)
    Augustine Pulu (Hino Red Dolphins)
    Melani Nanai (Worcester Warriors)
    Santiago Garcia Botta (Harlequins)
    Tomas Lavanini (Leicester Tigers)
    Pablo Matera (Stade Francais)
    Martin Landajo (Harlequins)
    Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks)
    RG Snyman (Honda Heat)
    Duane Vermeulen (Kubota Spears)
    Handre Pollard (Montpellier)
    Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles)
    Coenie Oosthuizen (Sale Sharks)
    Akker van der Merwe (Sale Sharks)
    Robert du Preez (Sale Sharks)
    Eben Etzebeth (Toulon)
    Damian de Allende (Panasonic Wild Knights)
    Malcolm Marx

    • AllyOz

      Sale Sharks may as well call themselves Durban Sharks from the look of that list

      • adastra32

        Don’t worry – they are already being called SAle Sharks….

        • AllyOz

          the For Sale Sharks perhaps

    • Who?

      Retallick will be on a flexible contract, sabbaticals. He’s still contracted to the NZRU. He may not be the only one in that position.

      • From NooZealand

        Sam Whitelock as well.

    • On that list you’d have to say Franks, Read, Smith, probably Crotty at 30 and with the rate NZ produces and burns through AB wings Naholo and Milner Skudder are not going to make the 2023 RWC. Franks, Read and Smith are probably hoping for an easy year, maybe two, before retiring with a bit more money. Retallick and Sam Whitelock both have sabbatical deals, where they’re allowed a year (I think it might be two for Retallick) to play outside NZ but come back because they’re still contracted. IIRC Carter did that, Todd was called up for their warm-up in Japan with a special exemption last November because he was on sabbatical – it’s starting to become quite common. And the ITM Cup will produce replacements for them all I have no doubt, it always does.

      The situation in Australia worries me, because several coaches have a poor replacement strategy, which is not good. Who will replace the departing Tahs? Not surprised Gibson is going, he’s made a horrid landing for whoever replaces him, and I’d respect him a little more if he’d stayed to clean up his mess. I think the same is true at the Rebels. I keep flip-flopping about the Reds, but they have a mess of players who may be able to play in some key positions for other teams with other coaches… or not.

      In SA it seems even worse. You don’t have to play in SA to play for the Bokke. So they’re off… A lot of those players leaving will hurt their SR sides for sure, although some seem to be nearing the end of their careers.

      But the RWC has imposed an artificial cycle on players, and coaches. There are players in several countries, hanging on for that last blast at the RWC. I’m not sure if Ben Smith and Kieran Read would be playing still, if not for Japan for two really big name examples, but I might be wrong. I still think they’re class players, but the injuries and knocks, if there wasn’t a World Cup this year, I think they might have gone last year. With Genia’s dip in form, he might have hung up his boots if it’s age getting to him. If there’s a niggle, he might think he can get over it. Pocock’s mystery leg injury… same thing. You’d like to think RA would have sacked Cheika if it wasn’t for the thoughts around “can we get a replacement to improve things before Japan?” and “all the good coaches are tied up until Japan?” although I appreciate money was an issue too. England might have sacked Fast Eddie last year, if not for the same thing after the disaster he had when he couldn’t buy a win.

      • Keith Butler

        Another excellent piece Eloise. As you say, NZ doesn’t really have to worry too much about the RWC cycle of players retiring or moving on as they have the ITM and SR academies as their production line. We on the other hand could have problems with bad player replacement/management. Wearing my Rebels hat, I was concerned about the surfeit of three quarters in the squad, with players selected out of position or benched but now we know who is leaving, Wessels may have recruited in anticipation of the likes of Genia and Cooper moving on. The only issue that I can see in filling the scrum half berth with Ruru going as well. It alsolooks like we have some very promising replacements both up front and in the backs with the guys who represented Aus in the excellent U20 world championship. Now, wearing my SD hat, I can’t say i’m too bothered about the non selection of Hartley, Robshaw and Care. We have more than adequate replacements, although come the RWC having that experience of pressure situations could be worth having. Having France and Argentina in our group will be tough enough.

        • I think you could be right about the Rebels, we’ll have to wait and see. There are some comments from last week (might have been the week before) saying Wessels needs to pick some players and say “you’re 10, you’re 12, you’re 15″ and so on but I think he’s now got the space to do that and let the combinations settle in. Hopefully it will work out better for them.

          SD hat? Not sure what an SD is in this context? I have a feeling I’ll kick myself, but I’ve been in bed for most of the last 36 hours with a fever so I’m feeling dense. But recovered now.

          Sadly I don’t think England will miss Hartley. He was a long shot for Japan and although he’s calmed down, I think teams would have targeted him to get him to explode and RC, bye, thanks for the game. It’s still in him. Robshaw and Care… as someone whose been known to put on a Red jersey with a dragon on the sleeve during the 6N, I’m kind of happy to see them staying in England. Since 2003, inclusive, the paradigm has been experience wins RWCs. It’s why Nonu went back to NZ and might be in with a shout of going to Japan, and why they’ll hope SBW gets fit. It’s why, if Pocock doesn’t get fit, I’d bite my lips and pick Hooper despite the fact I’d don’t rate him as an international 7 – thanks to Cheika there’s no one else with any test experience there. Does England have a talented second/third scrum half and a talented (and genuine) 7? Sure. Do they players with 155 caps worth of experience to replace them? Not so much. I don’t think England will lose to both of France and Argentina, although Argentina should be playing well and you never know with France at RWCs so they could.

          Depending on what happens, they then face one of Wales, Australia or (possibly) Fiji or Georgia. Wales is a serious challenge, England got soundly beaten in Cardiff. If Australia have found their mojo, they could be a serious challenge too. Missing those caps could easily hurt at that point.

        • Keith Butler

          SDs or Soap Dodgers as they are affectionately known Downunder are us downtrodden Poms but I have a foot in both camps being a citizen as well so I do barrack for the Green and Gold. Wales on the other hand are a different matter having spent some ‘happy’ afternoons on the receiving end of size 12 boots at St Helens, Rodney Parade and the Gnoll. Seriously though I think the Welsh will be a big threat, they have a great squad of players and in Gatland, a world class coach. I’m still undecided on Eddie Jones as a coach but it will be interesting to see the make up of his final squad. As you say experience will be vital. SH will be an issue. Ben Young’s blows hot and cold but will be in, along with Wrigglesworth from Sarries and Robson from Wasps. Not so worried about 7 as Tom Curry had a good 6Ns and Sam Underhill should have recovered from his injury. I could even speculate that EJ could slip Itoje in at 6 as there is plenty of cover at lock. Providing the first choice players have recovered from their injuries and are fit and firing we should make it out of our group. Argentina will be the key game for me and after that who knows. Recently retired you can guess where I will be spending September/October.

        • Ah, I’m familiar with soap dodgers, but couldn’t place the abbreviation.
          The Welsh certainly love the Sais and I’m sure they gave you a warm, tender welcome!

          Every side needs a bit of luck, avoiding injuries and so on, but I think the Welsh have a genuine chance of making the final this year. They’ve got a coaching team that can inspire them and players both first choice and second choice that can deliver, third and even fourth choice in some positions.

          I think Eddie is interesting. I wouldn’t want him back as Wallabies coach nor as Wales coach, which says it all I think. Actually, thinking about it I don’t think he’d be that bad as Wallabies coach, at least as the first person after Cheika. I don’t think he’s tactically a great coach and I’m not sure he empowers his players in a way that, say, the AB coaches do but I think he comes in and he builds morale and self-belief well. That’s quite a subtle difference but after England crashed out in the pool phases in their own RWC (sorry if I sound like I’m gloating) he had a beaten and battered squad but he turned them round into a side that looked like world-beaters for a couple of years, and without a huge change in personnel. That was, I think, down to morale and self-belief. Because when they hit a side where the plan isn’t working, like Wales this year, and lots of sides last year, they got fractious and didn’t know what to do. If you look at the AB (Ok, they’re the best in the world and there’s a reason for that) they often adapt on the field, and if they don’t they usually adapt at half time: they are good enough to see a new game plan and go for it and if they don’t see it, they’re good enough to take a new game plan from their coaches and implement it. Their coaches much work some kind of magic to empower their, admittedly already very good, players to do that.

          So that got long, but the reason I think Jones might good for a couple of years after Cheika – there’s going to be a weird adjustment from the “golden boys” and the formerly excluded and the retirees and the incomers. Someone who comes in and builds everyone up and builds up team spirit could be a great call. A year or so of Jones to get the band back together, then a more tactically astute coach for the remaining years in the build up to France could be a good move. Of course, since Jones is signed up to the RFU for a couple more years (more fools them IMO) that’s not going to happen.

        • Keith Butler

          Some interesting thoughts. I don’t disagree, he said through gritted teeth, about your comments on Wales’ chances in the RWC. Of all the 6Ns teams I think they’ll do the best, unless of course Joe Schmitt has been hiding something up his sleeve. And i don’t mind a bit of gloating either, England we’re a basket case in the run up to 2015 with the Burgess fiasco etc etc. The lose to Wales through just plain bad game management and being put to the sword by the Aussies was the icing on the cake so to speak. I for one don’t think England were world beaters post 2015 they were the best of an average bunch in the NH and despite the 3-0 whitewash in 2016, the series down here could have easily been lost. The coaching situation post this RWC will be interesting. It doesn’t surprise me that EJ has been contracted on to 2021 as none of the current crop of top Premiership coaches want the job it’s a poisoned chalice. You might also argue the same about the Aussie post. If the Aussies had be ko’d by the Scots in 2015 would Cheika still be there? I can’t say that I know much about the SR coaches but it doesn’t seem to me that there is a standout replacement and that the ARU will be looking abroad.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Jeez Marx leaving is a huge blow for South Africa…

Rugby
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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