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Declining participation and ARU plans for the future

Quick Hands

David Wilson (68)
Two fair questions.

Take the audience exposure one first. If creating an instant money-spinning national comp was easy it would've been done in 1996 or 2007. Getting the NRC started meant navigating around rugby politics. It's had to run with the centralised costs heavily curtailed. Risks have been pushed out to the licencees. The decision to go Fox Sports was similarly driven; to get a few bucks to float the comp and not to spook the existing broadcast relationships.

But we have a third season and are still alive. It's longer than last time and bones of contention are being played out. The Sydney rationalisation was driven by the broadcaster, for example, and it had to happen. But, with a few more seasons, the competition and clubs get onto a better footing. Last year's NRC was also overshadowed by the RWC.

And even though Monsieur Half, as posting above, is no fan of NRC, perhaps his free-to-air "pain to get some gain" might be applicable to the NRC in 4 years time (while leaving Super Rugby on a mostly pay TV path). If the ARU want to get something on FTA TV, then the NRC might be the go.

The only barrier to rugby being shown on FTA is that the networks don't think anyone would watch it.
 

Pfitzy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
Is it to provide a level of rugby above club rugby to prepare players for super rugby/tests? If so, then it needs to be played under the same laws as super rugby and test rugby. By all means experiment with laws, but those experimental laws aren't adopted by WR (World Rugby), then don't persevere with them.



This is a straw man argument to me. Rugby is still rugby, no matter what tweaks you make.
 

Pfitzy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
Further: the issue isn't which exact laws you're playing under - it's the fact that the basic skills need to be there.

And organisations like Shute Shield do little to bother making a competitive environment. Should be over arched by NRC if we're serious about it.

EDIT: if that means clubs want to bid into a national competition, then so be it. Quite frankly, the Shute Shield is a haves/nots competition anyway, with the odd floater being competitive.

Let's give Poidevin et al what they want: let Uni/Randwick/Eastwood/whomever be the teams in a national competition, but apply conditions to their participation including managing everything right down to juniors development.

I've been against such a move, but there is so much whiteanting going on from Sydney club rugby, you might as well give the people what they want, and let it die under its own lack of momentum.

At that point you can rebuild, having proved them wrong.
 

kiap

Steve Williams (59)
Let's give Poidevin et al what they want: let Uni/Randwick/Eastwood/whomever be the teams in a national competition, but apply conditions to their participation including managing everything right down to juniors development.
Haha - most of these guys are still begging for cash!

At least Uni brought Wozza to the table and when that didn't pan out, bought up the controlling stake in the Eagles. Like 'em or not at least they've put their money where their mouth is. Bully for them.

Randwick are a busted flush. Eastwood belong in a small pond - the Shute Shield.
 

kiap

Steve Williams (59)
Yeah, tempting as it may be to watch a failure, I say why even bother to give them the keys.

If they bring the readies, there can be talk.
 

Rugbynutter39

Michael Lynagh (62)
Cripes

Union as international game and in many cases better game struggles in oz..why - I will give you the countless results of debates with many league, Union, soccer and afl debates with various mates on one of these sides:

Nrl, afl and a- league run as truly national Comp with administration centred around this central model. Union driven by state, and club factions

Union slow to adopt rule changes to attract mass public support for fan interest - nrl and league not so restricted - Union is - still evolving from amateur status pre 1995 - change takes time - look at trials for new laws..many years involved here

League evolved out of rugby to make more attrative to public - Union slow to change for reasons outlined above
 

Quick Hands

David Wilson (68)
Further: the issue isn't which exact laws you're playing under - it's the fact that the basic skills need to be there.

And organisations like Shute Shield do little to bother making a competitive environment. Should be over arched by NRC if we're serious about it.

EDIT: if that means clubs want to bid into a national competition, then so be it. Quite frankly, the Shute Shield is a haves/nots competition anyway, with the odd floater being competitive.

Let's give Poidevin et al what they want: let Uni/Randwick/Eastwood/whomever be the teams in a national competition, but apply conditions to their participation including managing everything right down to juniors development.

I've been against such a move, but there is so much whiteanting going on from Sydney club rugby, you might as well give the people what they want, and let it die under its own lack of momentum.

At that point you can rebuild, having proved them wrong.

If we're talking straw man, then bringing Shute Shield into this discussion is the ultimate straw man.

I have purposely refrained from bringing the baggage of SS into any discussion about the NRC, because ultimately it is unproductive.

I'm not talking about who makes up these teams - I leave that up to the participants and the ARU. I'm talking about whether the competition is achieving it's aims - and I'm a little unsure about what those aims are. Maybe I'm alone in this maybe not. I believe that by playing under different laws to super and test rugby, that the NRC isn't the ideal preparation for players to move to that level.

If you think that the laws are irrelevant to the way that the game is played, then that's a legitimate view. It's not a view that I agree with, but you are entitled to it.
 

Pfitzy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
The AIM is to get a comp going between Premier and Super Rugby, in order to improve the quality of player available for top-tier pro rugby.

In this, is it achieving its aim? Yes, in that it exists.

Stapled onto the end of Premier Rugby, and only a couple of months at that, it is a bit shit in terms of long-term development. But it is providing a pathway for players from across the nation to go up against each other in a tougher environment than Club Rugby, to test their mettle.

I could't imagine another approach working at this point, to whit:

"Hey, Premier Clubs - we're going to insert a competition running in parallel with Super Rugby starting next year. We're going to be offering players a bit of moolah to basically be a reserve draft pool for our Super teams, and are fully aware that its going to run over your regular seasons.

"Shut up and enjoy it!"

o_O
 

barbarian

Phil Kearns (64)
Staff member
QH- the laws are relevant, but they are set up to fundamentally address the issues you have raised on here and elsewhere- the skills of our players.

I can see the benefits in setting up the NRC to foster the type of rugby we want to play at Super and Test level- fast, skilful, aggressive. If we have to tinker with the laws a bit to make this easier, then I am OK with that as long as the game is fundamentally the same.

The NRC in this incarnation is much better in this regard than the 2007 version. The game is the same in almost every facet, just the ball is in play for longer and teams are more willing to push for tries instead of PGs.
.
 

Pfitzy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
Let's take a step back for a moment and spitball.

Imagine the ARU, in establishing the NRC, decided to open their tender process to existing clubs a couple of years ago. The understanding would be that this competition would be played above Premier Rugby, during their season, to keep players warm for Super Rugby duty.

The first understanding is that neither Melbourne nor Perth are going to have anything that looks like a competitive club at that level, so will need some help. But once those exceptions are worked out, we can proceed.

So the ARU say to the clubs involved that this is how it will work:


We'll fund you for X players and a certain number of staff, but the rest has to come from your pockets. You need to undertake a program to support players below this tier out of your own funds. There will be prizemoney and eventually broadcast rights expansion if we all stick together.

You will need to ensure facilities capable of hosting matches ongoing, including TV broadcast hosting, or internet streaming.

This money will be considered against the funding we already give you.

How many clubs do you think are going to jump at that, on an individual basis?
 

Pfitzy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
QH- the laws are relevant, but they are set up to fundamentally address the issues you have raised on here and elsewhere- the skills of our players.

I can see the benefits in setting up the NRC to foster the type of rugby we want to play at Super and Test level- fast, skilful, aggressive. If we have to tinker with the laws a bit to make this easier, then I am OK with that as long as the game is fundamentally the same.

The NRC in this incarnation is much better in this regard than the 2007 version. The game is the same in almost every facet, just the ball is in play for longer and teams are more willing to push for tries instead of PGs.
.



I see the 6-point try as a grand thing - people tut-tutted it, but ultimately tries used to be worth nothing, so no big deal.

As you say barb, if it encourages attacking rugby in a faster, more highly skilled arena, so much the better.

Most importantly, the pace of the NRC has shown a lot of the clubbies that they need to raise their standards, and that simply being a big fish in a little pond was no longer acceptable.

I see the reduction of penalties and DGs as a minor issue, but important to note. Not going for penalty goals from 45m+ will reduce the effectiveness of the long-range goal kicker except to break deadlocks. This doesn't reflect well in the Test arena where sometimes you need that clutch kick to get 3 points.

But if you're scoring enough tries, and have enough fitness, that isn't an issue.
 

half

Alan Cameron (40)
Cripes



Nrl, afl and a- league run as truly national Comp with administration centred around this central model. Union driven by state, and club factions


could not agree more.



Imagine the ARU, in establishing the NRC, decided to open their tender process to existing clubs a couple of years ago. The understanding would be that this competition would be played above Premier Rugby, during their season, to keep players warm for Super Rugby duty.


Was at one of those 5 day professional updates / seminars three years ago and one afternoon I choose to attend a particular presentation with a title something like this.. "Business Success breaking from Tradition"

I went along and almost died when the presenters said they were going to use the MLS or Major League Soccer in the US.

However it was an eye opening not so much for the MLS case study but for the thinking process sorry I digress.

Soccer has as most know has promotion and relegation in most countries its played and the process as I guess we all know is come bottom and down you go and come first and up you go.

The MLS had divisions but broke from the come first / last. They set a whole list of outcomes pertaining to membership, weekly crowds, capital structure etc. They would also only promote as they wanted to grow to ???? number of teams. Essentially business ability in an established club with existing fans was how a team was promoted. It has worked very well for the MLS. The presenters went so far as to say it saved the MLS from going under.

The point is the ARU has never really tested the water and said if you can meet these ?????? then you are in. I do wonder aloud if they had set key points would some SS teams have got together to form a joint bid thereby retaining that connection with the local district Rugby clubs.

As an aside as I understand it was in part the approach taken by John O'Neil when he set up the A-League.
 

dru

Tim Horan (67)
Do you think that the Soccer and the MLS systems are 100% of the systems that should be considered?
 

Pfitzy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
The point is the ARU has never really tested the water and said if you can meet these ?????? then you are in. I do wonder aloud if they had set key points would some SS teams have got together to form a joint bid thereby retaining that connection with the local district Rugby clubs.


o_O

Uh... you mean like, say the NRC?

I believe the only NRC setup to base their entire structure on private equity was the Rams. Probably out of need because NSWRU was never going to help anyone (especially not anyone outside mortar shot of the CBD) and the most influential club in the area (Eastwood) threw their toys out of the pram, financially.

In the first year the Stars (Uni/Balmain) were dire because Uni didn't really want to play with anyone else, but took Livingstone's money to get it going anyway. When, to Uni's surprise, the competition didn't fold, they decided to actually help out in Year 2 and got correspondingly better results.

The Rays looked good on paper but also had a lot of talent on the move, and so results were a little inconsistent. But it brought 4 clubs together, and now 5 with Southern Districts somehow joining a northern suburbs club :confused:

Of course, Southern are kind of isolated no matter who they join.

Then you've got the Country Eagles who started because Country NSW wanted a team, and no way were Randwick and Easts throwing in with those Uni bastards.

So yeah, let's have a shot at the ARU because certain clubs are run by petty-minded dick-measurers who think they know best, to the point where the biggest Union in Australia (NSW) didn't directly involve themselves in anything because:

A) There was too much conflict in the corridors of political bullshit
and
B) They didn't want to piss off too many people if the competition failed, or even worse, if it was wildly successful!

At least the fucking QLDers knew they had to get their shit together and help make this thing a success. NSW is still a fucking basket case behind the crates of gin and the old school ties.
 

Quick Hands

David Wilson (68)
I find it really odd that some on this thread take things other than as they were intended.

The NRC exists - I've never questioned its existence, in fact I've consistently supported it. If we set the bar so low that "existence" is a runaway success - then we'll achieve our aims fairly quickly.

Usually in life asking if something can be done, but done better is considered to be a worthwhile discussion - apparently not in some quarters.

I'd have thought that after three years of operation (at the end of this year) a sensible person or group would reflect on how things are going and ask themselves a series of questions, something like:

Has it achieved its original aims?

Have the original aims evolved, or have the stayed the same?

Do we need to change our aims as they currenlty exist?

Are we happy with all aspects of the operation?

How can we improve things?

Is there a way of doing things better, or more efficiently?

Are we getting value for money?

Are our players being developed at the optimum rate?

Mature organisations treat those questions as being constructive efforts to improve, while reactive organistions treat those questions (or any questions) as attacks and immediately seek to denigrate the questioner.

I hope that rugby can be mature about it - although the evidence on this thread leaves me doubting that somewhat.
 

kiap

Steve Williams (59)
I find it really odd that some on this thread take things other than as they were intended.

The NRC exists - I've never questioned its existence, in fact I've consistently supported it. If we set the bar so low that "existence" is a runaway success
This is not an NRC thread, as such, though. The topic is declining participation and future plans. The NRC is not going have much effect on junior or senior amateur participation, nor is Super Rugby. The relevance in this discussion is really only to future elite levels of rugby.

Local clubs, on the other hand, are in the front line on participation. This is where they should be focusing.

But back to NRC, since you asked. It is clearly a better level of rugby than the so-called Premier comps in each state.

That's its main aim: Competition to bridge the gap in standard to pro rugby for elite development players. This was also the goal of funding the "Premier Rugby" concept when was it was conceived nigh on two decades ago. An aim that local club games failed to fulfill and, indeed, are not capable of providing.

Short questions, short answers. ;)

NRC (last two years)

Has it achieved its original aims? Yes
Have the original aims evolved, or have the stayed the same? IMO same
Do we need to change our aims as they currenlty exist? No
Are we happy with all aspects of the operation? No
How can we improve things? More seasons
Is there a way of doing things better, or more efficiently? Yes
Are we getting value for money? Yes
Are our players being developed at the optimum rate? No

Premier Rugby - state-based; last two decades or so since funded from ARU

Has it achieved its original aims? No
Have the original aims evolved, or have the stayed the same? IMO same
Do we need to change our aims as they currenlty exist? Yes
Are we happy with all aspects of the operation? No
How can we improve things? Go amateur
Is there a way of doing things better, or more efficiently? Yes
Are we getting value for money? Yes
Are our players being developed at the optimum rate? No
 

Quick Hands

David Wilson (68)
This is not an NRC thread, as such, though. The topic is declining participation and future plans. The NRC is not going have much effect on junior or senior amateur participation, nor is Super Rugby. The relevance in this discussion is really only to future elite levels of rugby.

Local clubs, on the other hand, are in the front line on participation. This is where they should be focusing.

But back to NRC, since you asked. It is clearly a better level of rugby than the so-called Premier comps in each state.

That's its main aim: Competition to bridge the gap in standard to pro rugby for elite development players. This was also the goal of funding the "Premier Rugby" concept when was it was conceived nigh on two decades ago. An aim that local club games failed to fulfill and, indeed, are not capable of providing.

Short questions, short answers. ;)

NRC (last two years)

Has it achieved its original aims? Yes
Have the original aims evolved, or have the stayed the same? IMO same
Do we need to change our aims as they currenlty exist? No
Are we happy with all aspects of the operation? No
How can we improve things? More seasons
Is there a way of doing things better, or more efficiently? Yes
Are we getting value for money? Yes
Are our players being developed at the optimum rate? No

Premier Rugby - state-based; last two decades or so since funded from ARU

Has it achieved its original aims? No
Have the original aims evolved, or have the stayed the same? IMO same
Do we need to change our aims as they currenlty exist? Yes
Are we happy with all aspects of the operation? No
How can we improve things? Go amateur
Is there a way of doing things better, or more efficiently? Yes
Are we getting value for money? Yes
Are our players being developed at the optimum rate? No

I'd really like you to go back and find where I ever said that it wasn't better than club rugby. Why you and others try to keep bringing club rugby into the point is mystifying.

I hope that the ARU look at things in a bit more detail.

I'm glad that you seem to believe that it (NRC) can be improved. As a level in the larger structure, I'd have thought that the NRC is just as relevant to declining participation as every other level. The decline in participation has hit clubs, schools, subbies and colts/grade rugby - it follows logically that all levels above will eventually be impacted by what is going on below.

As a sport which is perilously short of money, I'd be constantly looking for better ways to do things - it actually frees up money and resources to be applied elsewhere.

A self-sustaining NRC is fairly important to the future of the game, I'd have thought and thus entirely relevant to participation.
 

Pfitzy

Nathan Sharpe (72)
Actually the existence of NRC is paramount to growing grassroots rugby - moreso than Shute Shield.

The problem with the existing club system is that no-one outside those clubs gives two knobs of goat shit about them.

That is important, and I'll give you two examples why:


This is a club that didn't exist a few years ago in a competition that didn't exist a few years before that.

When the A-League was formed, they realised there was too much politicial (and racial) tension attached to existing clubs, so they ditched them.

Yet, the A-League has created a parochial base of people who weren't engaged with the existing clubs from the NSL days, and despite the well-discussed ratings issues and minimal FTA coverage, it is still seen as a growing success in a lot of quarters.

It still has issues to overcome (crowd-related) that currently hold it back from leveraging the massive fan base playing junior soccer, but they've given themselves a chance by telling their clubs that they're no longer top dog.

That's one example.

Let's look at the BBL - a number, first:

7064884-3x2-700x467.jpg


Year 5 of a competition with a bunch of franchises created because state cricket wasn't actually working. Nearly 81k to a local derby at the best cricketing arena in the world. What's not to like?

One of the massive successes of the BBL is it made a product so valuable, free-to-air TV was interested in it, and now has it. This has springboarded it to even great heights, yet still retained a product that crowds want to go and see, buy merchandise for, and watch on TV.

Cricket Australia did this because they saw merit in the T20 game as a promotional product, without the fetters of state interference. By adopting a franchise model, they have an easy expansion/relocation.

Where it differs keenly is base - cricket is Australia's sport. Rugby can't claim that.

People from rugby clubland, who look at the NRC and say it can't possibly work because of a lack of tribalism, are examining it through the very narrow aperture of their own club's self-interest.

"Rugby people" will follow the Tahs (barely, going on evidence to date) because they're a state team. If they've got a Subbies club they play for, that will take precedence over SS in Sydney because that is their Saturday afternoon. Maybe they'll record it and watch it later.

I have a rugby club, and it is my club, and nothing about Shute Shield is. With the possible exception of the ongoing struggle of Parramatta and Penrith. I can relate to that through my own experience as a club outside the circle of "haves". But I don't place them anywhere in my supporter hierarchy, because they don't belong there. If I played for them or coached with them, it might be different.


The NRC is using the same principles as A-League and BBL: the governing body looked at what was available, and realised that it would not, in any fashion, work under the bloated self-interest it had run itself with to date.

If the clubs understood that, the NRC would start getting the primacy it deserves, including a full season with two rounds of home/away to be played over Shute Shield and other Premier Rugby competitions.

Who knows? Maybe there is even room to have First Grade club rugby as a warmup before the main fixture, with streaming.


The point to this is we need to have a saleable, standalone rugby product that can get its own rights deal domestically, then look at getting it added to the list of money available from overseas interests.

We can't do that with Super Rugby because it is intrinsically linked to FoxSports, and overseas interests.

The ITM Cup and Currie Cups get extra cash because of their value. We need to push ahead and do something similar, so that everyone can benefit in the longer term.

Rugby gets back in the spotlight, kids start thinking about it again beyond just the Wallabies, and young players get something to aim at in a national competition instead of being limited to club rugby.

Simples.
 

I like to watch

David Codey (61)
Good post, and I agree with most of it bar extending NRC.
Most of the value add IMO is the better grade players combining with non test level soup players, brings the level up above Premier standard.
Without the Soup players I don't think any of the sides would be better than a fully fit Woods or Marlins side.
So unless the point is to relegate the SS comp,i don't get it.
 
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