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$1 million Rugby Revolution

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John Solomon (38)
A KERRY Packer-style revolution of rugby union is being planned, with Balmain Rugby Club in discussions with Channel Ten and Fox Sports about staging a new million-dollar competition.

Balmain president Warren Livingstone, who has previously brought internationals Sabastien Chabal, Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau to play for the suburban rugby club, is behind the idea.

The founder of Aussie supporter group The Fanatics wants to establish a competition that bridges the gap between Super Rugby and the Shute Shield.

The eight-team competition would start after the Super Rugby season ended and include double-headers at Leichhardt Oval on Friday nights.

Teams would be made up of Super Rugby players not selected for the Wallabies, emerging young players, rugby league converts and international marquees.

Prizemoney of $1 million would be offered on a "winner-take-all" seven-week competition, which would be made up of Sydney clubs including Balmain.

Just as cricket changed when the World Series Cricket was started in 1977 - recently documented in Channel 9's Howzat: Kerry Packer's War - Livingstone said a similar revolution was needed in rugby.

"This isn't supposed to be anti-establishment, but something new is needed," Livingstone said.

"The reality is something new needs to come along, because the Shute Shield's days are numbered."

Livingstone, who has helped guide Balmain from suburban fifth division in 2005 to promotion to first division next year, said the unnamed competition would look at rule changes to make it more attacking.

"It's got to be based on attacking rugby if it's on prime time," he said. "With the rugby league double-headers on Channel 9, we want to offer something to other networks to show."

Former Wallaby Ryan Cross, who now plays with Balmain, said a competition to bridge the gap between Super Rugby and Shute Shield was needed.

"South Africa and New Zealand have the Curry Cup and ITM Cup, but we haven't got anything," Cross said.



I love it...

I dont think the proposed format is anywhere near perfect, but jeez Australian Rugby at club level could use a catalyst like this to actually consider reform...

World Series Cricket wasn't perfect in many ways, but what it did was force the cricketing administration to reform and evolve their game, hopefully something like this could do the same for club rugby in Sydney/Brisbane/Canberra.


John Solomon (38)
No indication as to whether this is a national comp or not, it should be.

Interesting to see Ch 10 involved, could this be a catalyst for Ten to eventually get the test rights?

Grandmaster Flash

Johnnie Wallace (23)
No indication as to whether this is a national comp or not, it should be.

Seems Sydney-only...

"Prizemoney of $1 million would be offered on a "winner-take-all" seven-week competition, which would be made up of Sydney clubs including Balmain."


Given the success of Premier Grade clubs over their NSW counterparts in the 'Club Championship' the last few years, it seems a bit silly not to invite some of the QLD clubs down..

Sunnybank are always happy to bankroll teams for competitions like this, i imagine UQ might front up a team as well.


Ken Catchpole (46)
They are doing what we all need to do, realise that a fully national comp is damn expensive and difficult logistically. Just as the AFL and NRL started in a base and spread, we need to understand that it is fools gold to go wide before earning the right.

In a couple of seasons, add a few Brisbane clubs, then a little while later build on the base already there to add from further afar.

I also love that it is coming from outside, nothing shakes things up like this might.


John Solomon (38)
Different 'kettle of fish'. The Foxtel Cup, if anything, is more on par.

The question has always been, should the said competition be inter-union or should there be representative/franchise based teams, similar to the ITM Cup/NPC.

I guess the real question is: What should be the purpose of the comp?
- To provide additional coverage of the game or provide another tier/platform for development?

The latter clearly does both. However you don't get the existing affiliation with a club and it's history, compared to the former. I doubt it would also attract a non-Rugby crowd with the former too.

On the subject of WA/Perth, it's geographical nightmare. The solution, I don't know, I think no one does at this point in time. However I know we need them.


2 conferences 4 (QLD) 4 (NSW) then a final to be played prior to a test?

Each team plays H&A within their conference (6 games) final qualifier with the top 2 teams followed by a final in a location chosen by TV.

This results in only 1 team travelling cutting down the costs.

8 weeks - simple.

Political process - not so simple.


Sounds great BUT - only Sydney - if no Queensland clubs - then stuff it - I'd rather watch Hogan's Heros and leave it to the Tahs fans to tune in by the hundred !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In the know I think.

Peter Burge (5)
Didn't anyone watch the TV series, the Packer plan didn't work, it eventually went back to the establishment and rightfully the result was the players got paid a fair share of the purse, which was substantial.
We are talking 2nd tier here not the national sport.
Comparing apples to oranges here gents, could be a disaster.
That said if you don't try something new then the current comp might just wilt on the vine.
I'm for the ARU getting off it's butt and doing what it told the clubs it was going to months ago.
The Shute Shield could still be the answer, just needs an injection of funds and promotion.


Will Genia (78)
Staff member
Packer created day/night cricket and made one day cricket the most popular format of the game.

If you attract players from Brisbane and a few internationals and have two games on show each week, it could create a viable product.

It seems to me that it is rather like the ARC but you're holding the whole thing in one place.


G&GR is the biggest rugby brains trust in Australia. Why doesn't someone have a word with Livingstone? There's similarities between the Fanatics and G&GR that he would recognise. Some synergies there, I'd say.

Looking at his work in Balmain, he's a guy who can get things done.

Having spent enormous quantities of coin with the Fanatics over the years, it is good to see some of those coins will be put to good use.

Bravo. We do love a sporting entrepreneur in this country, and Woz is a bloke who not only gets things done, but does it in style. Good luck to you, sir!

Wait until he starts offering international packages to Balmain home games!


Greg Davis (50)
It makes a lot of sense to do it in one place. Television wise etc, to only have one set up place reduces costs and au provide something at least viable for the short term.

Whatever happens, we need to shore up NSW & QLD before we look anywhere else. With the increase in league funding and AFl expanding making sure that the back yard is in order before asking people over is so important.


David Codey (61)
Seems an interesting proposition. And I can see the logic behind their thinking. Start it centrally with clubs looking to concentrate as much talent as possible (which would mean recruiting players from outside Sydney as well) and create a strong product and slowly build from there. Hopefully, in time we could see it evolve to include teams from QLD and ACT and expand beyond one location to others.

The key for this will be to get the Rugby community to get behind the concept regardless of previous allegiances to watch it in numbers and ensure it continues.

Train Without a Station

Don't we already have a Sydney centric club called the Shute Shield? All for the idea and good to see somebody pushing for it, but it seems like trying to start something from the ground up, when there is already an established base there which could be tweaked to suit.
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