Rugby fiddles while Otago Rugby Football Union burns
So it’s come to this. A Rugby Union that is over 120 years old will be left to burn. The Otago Rugby Football Union has been a New Zealand rugby icon for 120 years, and could have shared the slogan of its local amber liquid counterpart as The Pride of the South.
It has now been forced to sit in a corner awaiting euthanasia. Over the fence and in many other parts of the country there lie Otago’s cussie-bros, many hiding behind clubroom fences wondering if they are the next to go.
Rugby has been in a progressive downward spiral since the mothers rose up and stated that they no longer wanted their little boys hurt by the sprig-raking ruffians of the Sir Colin Mead’s era. The real men of rugby were lost forever.
Gradually we have moved our game into the sanitised, over-paid, over-played, over-ruled and over-everything-elsed situation where nobody wants to support a game that creates frustration with every play.
Yes, rugby was for the hard player who played the game hard, and has been watered down over the years to where interpretations of rules are seen differently by player, coach, ref and fan. The fan, who funds the operation,has slowly become too bored to bother going to games and to pay the money that kept unions afloat.
Simply put, the expenditure exceeds the income because the fan won’t turn the turnstile.
In my columns over the years I have shouted in thunder that the rules need to change to provide the game its necessary income. The excitement needs to come back and the spectacle needs lifting to have the fan return.
Rugby should be a gladiatorial game where the fan literally bays for blood and pays to see it happen. The game has lost its pizzazz and rules need to change to bring it back now before the predictability sets in.
We saw the problem looming a year or two ago and could have gone a long to fixing it with the Experimental Law Variations, until the stodgy Northern Hemisphere over-votes killed them off.
Penalties and drop-goal points need reducing. Ejecting the mess currently called a ruck and bring back real rucking. Move both back lines back five metres behind the rear feet at ruck or scrum, letting the ball go immediately on tackle, with a quick tap along or behind the penalty line, move to crouch, touch, engage.
These are just a few of the many rules that need to change to bring back the speed and excitement of the game that will in turn bring back the fan with his pocket full of dollars.
The ORFU dilemma is only the start of many to come unless we overhaul the cause. To sit on our hands and say we have no need will means no fans, no money, no rugby.
Make the game worth going to and the money will flow.
We need a decisive and resolute policy to fix it now, not the fiddle mumble we are currently hearing from the rule committees, who would like you to know that the meek shall inherit the earth, if that’s quite alright with the rest of you.