NZ Rugby blues not solved by cash

It has been interesting watching the fur fly following the release of the NZRU report into the 2007 Rugby World Cup fiasco.

While ‘Pinetree’ Meads has called for the guillotine for all NZRU administrators (no argument from me on that!), and NZ Herald columnist Paul Lewis wants privatisation to solve all woes, it is clear that neither move will solve rugby issues in NZ.

Lewis himself scotches the idea that privatising the provincial rugby unions or Super 14 franchises (the latter currently owned by NZRU), saying

Once private investment comes to town… clubs can assemble a creme de la creme playing roster and pay them accordingly… private investment is probably the only way that enough money can come into the game here to prevent the wholesale drain of our big boys… [but] It is also a moot point whether this will attract enough money [to keep them].

Tempting as it is to agree with Meads that a reversion to 1 coach and emptying Joe Stalin out of his mausoleum to conduct a little purge at NZRU HQ, such moves are not going to solve the core problem.

When faced with a 25-40% drop in TV viewers and similar drops in gate takings at matches, it is clear that your ‘product’ (the rugby games) are either of such low quality people can’t even be bothered watching them for free, or that you have saturated the market with said ‘product’. Given the quality of matches does not seem to have dropped enough to cause the free fall in viewers, it is the number of matches that is too high.

 Elementary, my dear Watson, yet evidently too tricky for the NZRU to work out. Perhaps that is because recognition of the real problem carries the obvious conclusion the rugby union do not want to hear – less potential revenue making matches to flog to TV corporations.

Like the farmer who killed the fabled goose that laid the golden eggs (to try get more out of the gooses’ insides), the NZRU is faced with having to content itself with a certain number of matches to market, or drowning the market in matches and killing the marketing appeal of said matches.

One solution:

  • Scrap the Super 14 competition now
  • Use the vacant timeslots to develop a set of genuine regional competitions (say South Pacific,  North Pacific, European, South Atlantic) which opens up the comp’s to teams currently excluded, like Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Argentina, while giving the US, Canada and Japan a competitve level of rugby in the north. Strengthens international rugby and reduces the need for players to nation-hop to get good rugby.
  • The above regional comp’s would still leave time (beacause regions have less national teams than the 14 Super 14 teams) for regular scheduled bilateral international tours, which also develops rugby as a global game.
  • Enforcing tight national player origin rules on the above comp’s allows the IRB and national rugby unions to relax player restrictions for club comp’s- not a total cure to player bleed to ealthy club comp’s but a start.
  • Add to the above a higher level of taxation by the national unions targetted specifically for supplementary player payouts, and the financial incentive is there for players to turn out for their national team.

Not that hard really, is it? Which makes you wonder why the NZRU hasn’t paid me a hefty consultant fee yet? hehe.

The last point is the key to solving player drain, but it will draw squeals from the foreign clubs, which are mostly privately owned. The big downside to privatised rugby teams – their owners just want maxiumum profits, so will always be opposed to higher levies on them to fund other aspects of the game.

Oh, and sacking NZRU ceo Steve Tew would help… maybe send Colin Meads to do it? (and wish to be a fly on the wall 😉 )

 

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One Response to “NZ Rugby blues not solved by cash”

  1. squaredrive Says:

    Whoops – should have mentioned – the big losers under such a scenario are current world champs South Africa, who would find themselves in a South Atlantic comp with Argentina, Paraguay, Uraguay, Namibia and Kenya say. Short term there is now way round this – Argentina in Latin America and SA in Africa are isolated strong teams.

    Which highlights the other need – the IRB MUST start to properly allocate a decent chunk of cash to running their own rugby development programme (in consultation with but independent of national rugby unions). Corruption in national unions, and gutlessness by IRB and powerful unions like NZRU has seen next to no development outside existing rugby nations in the last quarter century.

    Think of what South Africa would have to play against if a decent programme had been put in place after SA came back into world sport in 1992 – 16 years ago!!!

    Part of the development could be a 2nd (or even 3rd) division of the regional comp’s to let lower strength national teams build more rapidly by playing sides of similar strength (and not repeat cricket’s disasterous Australia-US matches).

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