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The dying - perhaps death - of Rugby in Australia.

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wamberal

Nick Farr-Jones (63)
The last ten years have unfolded like a Greek tragedy (not that I know anything about Greek tragedies).

Ten years ago the game was on top of the world, we were holders of the World Cup, just hosted a brilliant Lions tour, and were preparing for a home World Cup. Everything in the garden was coming up roses, even the Shute Shield grand final was drawing decent crowds at the SFS. The ARU was able to cherry pick several high flyers from the opposition. Super Rugby was expanding. The game had a great public image, and was getting lots of good publicity.

The 2003 World Cup was a huge success around the country. We were living at the Central Coast at the time, the Irish were stationed there, and it seemed as though every second kid was wearing a Wallabies or Irish jersey in the street. We made the final as expected, but lost a pulsating (daylight) game in extra time. I wonder now whether that was a turning point.

It seems to have been pretty much all down-hill since then. The game drifted forward to the 2007 World Cup which featured some of the worst, least attractive, rugby I have ever seen. The ARU threw money away on an attempt at a national championship, which should at the very least have been scheduled for the following year, when sponsors, spectators, and players might have been interested, instead the ARC being in competition with the RWC.

I struggle to think of any highlights since then, other than the Reds win last year.

The Shute Shield has been strangled by our selfish friends at Camperdown, and it seems to me that their success has been translated into a total lack of success by the Waratahs.

Proud clubs like Randwick and Gordon are on their knees. The Sydney Morning Herald has pretty much stopped covering the game. Well done, Growfat, if this was your aim, you seem to have succeeded.

The game used to be played in all the good state high schools, nowadays the best schools are all academic hot-houses, with no time for any sport, except a bit of tiddleywinks or kite-flying. So the game now seems to be totally dependent on the whim of a few private schools.

FTA is uninterested in our sport, apparently. Who can blame them, with some of the dismal performances that our national team have been dishing up for far too long?

I suppose I am fortunate in having seen the best of the game here, and I also remember the dismal days of the sixties and seventies as well. We are headed back there, at a rate of knots. The game almost died in the fifities, it was only saved by a fantastically popular Fijian tour.

What on earth can save it now?
 

exISA

Fred Wood (13)
I think the advent of professionalism has finally caught up with us as other nations seem to be "doing it better" . This is clear with our pathway to the wallabies and super rugby that is so outdated and elitist (I am referring to the way our schools system is operating, nay , dictated by a few blazers and 'glasses-o-port' mens club that is the private school system) . It was horrible in my day as a pupil and nothing seems to have changed. We are now reaping the rewards of such a poor way of recognising talent - I wonder how many talented players we have lost over the years to other codes due to disillusionment and not being able to have a crack at the big time due to politics. I know this seems ilke a rant similar to some of the crap we see in the "scholarships and selection bias" thread in the schoolls forum but its not. It ssomething I have been saying for years, that our junior talent recognition needs to change and I think the article on the main page about our schools system needing to change is spot on. That will only get us back to where we were at the end of the 90s (when other nations hadn't quite caught onto the professional age - we were just lucky to have a coach ahead of his time in the form of Rod McQueen ) .
 
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TOCC

Guest
I'm sorry but I have very little time for pessimistic people, to even suggest that rugby union is dying is a complete and utter joke...

Super Rugby ratings the past 24 months have been significantly greater then they have ever been in the past. The Wallabies semi against the AB's rated significantly higher then the 2003 RWC equivalent.

At junior levels Victoria, Queensland and WA have all experienced massive increase this year.

Sevens rugby is growing, especially in the number of girls playing.. Rugby Union is reaching into non-traditional schools not only in QLD but in NSW as well.

75'000 people in Sydney just turned out to watch the Wallabies play a team we rarely ever beat, a further 50'000 will do it in a few weeks in Brisbane as well.... Hardly sounds like the grim reaper is knocking on the door
 

Hugh Jarse

Rocky Elsom (76)
Staff member
Is the growth of rugby in non traditional areas of Vic, SA and WA related to the number of Kiwi and Saffer migrants deciding to settle there and raise families?

Coupled with the the mining boom and consequential interstate job seeker migration may have been good for WA Rugby.

They just need to hold their breath for a few more years until local grown product filters into the Force franchise.

The improvement in performance at Junior and schoolboy carnivals from WA and Vic teams has been impressive over the past 10 years. Not long until some of these lads enter professional ranks, possibly after attending "finishing school" in BrisVegas or Shute Shield.
 
L

Linebacker_41

Guest
Rugby won't die, it is too big for that and whilst we are not competing well at the moment on the field with one team in particular we still have an international game that keeps us relative in the national sporting framework.

Everyone predicts the end of one sport or another. Let's face it soccer has been not just on the edge of the abyss but all the way into the abyss and yet they are still a relavent sport in the Australian context.

Like cricket's recent change in the framework of managing their game particularly at the elite level I am hoping that rugby undergoes similar changes in the next 18 months.

Yes we are competing against 2 cashed up organisations in the AFL and NRL however I think we are strong enough to combat these giants in Australian sport.
 
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Train Without a Station

Guest
Super Rugby ratings the past 24 months have been significantly greater then they have ever been in the past. The Wallabies semi against the AB's rated significantly higher then the 2003 RWC equivalent.

At junior levels Victoria, Queensland and WA have all experienced massive increase this year.

Just out of curiousity, do you at all know how these increases compare percentage wise with population growth? Not being a smart ass, I have no idea how they do compare. Just saying if the population increased 10 percentage in that 8 years and the ratings increased 5 percentage, it's really a 5 percentage drop in market penetration.
 

wamberal

Nick Farr-Jones (63)
Nice to know that there are some optimists around. I used to be an optimist once, back when the Bledisloe drew over 100,000 and the Shute Shield final drew over 15,000.

I was pretty sure that many of the PI families migrating to Australia would bolster our playing ranks, but now I see that most of them actually prefer league, or at least their kids do.

Hugh, there is absolutely no guarantee that the kids of Kiwi and Saffer migrants will opt to play rugby. My next door neighbour is a Kiwi, mad keen rugby follower, his 14 year old nephew is playing league in Sydney, much to his chagrin. I wonder how many times over this conversion is happening?

TOCC, I know that rugby is now not being played seriously in many traditional high schools. How many "non-traditional schools" are taking it up? As a serious sport, by the way, not just for fun. Women playing rugby is a good thing, but it will not save the game at the elite level.

Can you provide some data about the massive increases in junior levels? By the way, bear in mind that Gordon club in Sydney apparently has the largest junior enrolments in Australia. Their first grade team ran nowhere this year, and they get a few hundred to their home games. So junior numbers do not necessarily translate into anything.
 

Scotty

David Codey (61)
I don't think we are dying, but I also don't think we are growing significantly, despite the numbers coming out of Qld. These numbers are primarily based on the performance of the Reds, which when it drops off will in turn could result in a drop in the numbers.

My opinion is that we still need to make structural changes to affect real long term growth, and overtake League in this country. Split the super comp away from south africa, have a domestic comp with the kiwis only then run champions league type fixtures with the top ANZ, SA, Japanese and possibly Argentinian (in the future) sides.

The Australian public needs more games at peak times, and more games they can relate to (vs kiwis and aussie teams). Free to air would be interested in this product (they are not interested in paying for games played vs SA teams in the middle of the night). Short term pain through loss of SA revenue, but long term gain. A comp that can merge the provincial and third tiers together (I do not believe we are strong enough to have both).
 

Braveheart81

James Horwill (77)
Staff member
If you took away the revenue South Africa delivers from Super Rugby, we'd be greatly reducing what players can be paid and surely lose more top players to league.

I guess one of the big attractions of league for talented kids is that there are far more well paid jobs on offer than there are in rugby.

Cricket, particularly in Victoria suffers a similar problem competing for talent with the AFL. Juniors flock to the AFL because it has far more well paid jobs available.
 
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TOCC

Guest
TOCC, I know that rugby is now not being played seriously in many traditional high schools. How many "non-traditional schools" are taking it up? As a serious sport, by the way, not just for fun. Women playing rugby is a good thing, but it will not save the game at the elite level.

Can you provide some data about the massive increases in junior levels? By the way, bear in mind that Gordon club in Sydney apparently has the largest junior enrolments in Australia. Their first grade team ran nowhere this year, and they get a few hundred to their home games. So junior numbers do not necessarily translate into anything.


See below...Yeahh... Australian rugby is really dying
Also, do you seriously that player involvement will not flow over positively into the elite level?


Western Australia
RugbyWA is celebrating the registration of its 8,000th player for the 2012 season – a record for the state.
Grassroots rugby has seen a significant rise this year, increasing by 12 per cent from the 2011 total of 7,149 players.
Within this total, the number of players contesting Pindan Premier Grade and senior grades has risen from 2,930 (2011) to 3,399 while Bankwest Junior Rugby participation has experienced a similar increase, up from 3,723 in 2011 to 4,183.
Women’s rugby has also witnessed a substantial increase, up 28 per cent from 147 to 204.
http://www.rugbywa.com.au/NewsEvents/NewsArticles/tabid/905/ArticleID/7575/Default.aspx

Victoria
This year’s Walla Rugby Week has broken all-time registration records with numbers up more than 50% on last year’s record breaking amount across Australia, and an incredible 412% increase in Victoria.
The home state of the RaboDirect Rebels has enjoyed an enormous surge in registrations, rising from 2057 students and 11 schools in 2011, to 8,469 students and 64 schools in 2012.
Over 62,000 students from more than 370 schools across Australia have registered for the fourth annual Walla Rugby Week, which will runs from Monday to Friday this week, in the build up to the opening Test of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship in Sydney on Saturday 18 August.

https://sitedesq.imgstg.com/news/in...lay_main&NewsID=26416&OrgID=3850#.UEacLKmkThk

Queensland
Queensland Rugby has achieved its largest growth in recorded history with 2011 highlights showing a 33 per cent increase in participation figures year on year.
Over 136,791 participants enjoyed Rugby in the year the St.George Queensland Reds won the Super Rugby title – significantly up from 102,673 in 2010.
Other notable game development highlights include reaching 15,000 junior participants for the first time in history (15,726), the number of junior teams in Queensland climbing above the 1,000-mark to 1,033 and a record number of schools (458) becoming involved in Rugby activities.

http://www.rugby.com.au/superrugby/News/Article/tabid/959/ArticleID/5087/Default.aspx
 
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TOCC

Guest
Just out of curiousity, do you at all know how these increases compare percentage wise with population growth? Not being a smart ass, I have no idea how they do compare. Just saying if the population increased 10 percentage in that 8 years and the ratings increased 5 percentage, it's really a 5 percentage drop in market penetration.

Super Rugby ratings increased 30% between 2010 and 2011...
 

Scotty

David Codey (61)
If you took away the revenue South Africa delivers from Super Rugby, we'd be greatly reducing what players can be paid and surely lose more top players to league.

I guess one of the big attractions of league for talented kids is that there are far more well paid jobs on offer than there are in rugby.

Cricket, particularly in Victoria suffers a similar problem competing for talent with the AFL. Juniors flock to the AFL because it has far more well paid jobs available.

Which is why we need to grow our local comp. I think the only way to do that is how I outlined. Of course there is going to be short term pain with the loss of SA $$, but we need to look beyond that if we want rugby to be in the top few sports in this country like it is in SA and NZ.
 

Richo

John Thornett (49)
Why would NZ want to exclude RSA from Super Rugby? The ITM + Aussie conference doesn't seem like much of a draw.

If you're talking about some kind of 3rd tier... well, yeah, that'd be great.
 

wamberal

Nick Farr-Jones (63)
Not all that long ago, the match of the day was shown from Ballymore on Queensland FTA. No longer. So the only rugby shown in Queensland are the Test matches. Except for Shute Shield replays at 2.30 am on Tuesdays, and an occasional "Classic" match on ONE.


There is a rumour that the NSW Shute Shield coverage is going to be dropped by the ABC.


Meanwhile, a huge amount of league is shown on FTA, and as for Fox...............blimey, everything from every competition.


The SMH used to have a couple of pages of rugby several days a week. Now the NRL gets 6 pages, and we get two paragraphs.


We are getting blown away. Tiny gains in the newer areas, which translate into huge percentage increases, mean very little in real terms. The big corporate money for rugby has always been in Sydney. And that is where we are in diabolical trouble.
 
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