NRC needs tradition to survive

sheek Roar Guru

By , 12 Jan 2014 sheek is a Roar Guru

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    Ewen McKenzie (right) with Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    I apologise. Indeed I apologise most humbly.

    In several recent articles on the upcoming likely makeup of the teams in the proposed NRC, I have been deeply passionate, perhaps too passionate, about maintaining some kind of history, some kind of tradition, some kind of tribalism.

    Huh! What an idiot. Little do I appreciate this is the instant gratification society.

    Computer doesn’t work? Get another one. TV on the blink? Buy a new one. Mobile phone busted? Upgrade to the new model. New car? Easy. New washing machine? Easy. New this? Easy. New that? Easy. Disposable income society. Check!

    Twelve months ago – January 2013 – you would have struggled to get a majority support for a national comp in rugby union.

    We’re doing okay just as we are. We punch above our weight. Too expensive. Not enough players. Why copy New Zealand or South Africa? And on it goes.

    Then a new CEO of the ARU arrives – Bill Pulver – who announces a reprisal of the old ARC, now to be called the NRC. The bandwagon couldn’t fill quickly enough.

    Now, 12 months on, there is a bandwagon of millions of rugby fans declaring a national comp “must happen”, as if they’ve all believed it themselves for years and years.

    The killer reason why we shouldn’t have a national comp was that manufactured teams don’t work.

    Really? R-E-A-L-L-Y?

    Anyone looked at BBL lately?

    Eight manufactured teams. Eight totally manufactured teams.

    Eight teams that have no relationship whatsoever with their place of origin apart from the city name. The nicknames are meaningless and the colours have no relationship whatsoever historically, traditionally or otherwise, with their franchises.

    But it is apparently going gangbusters. It’s rating itself silly on TV. It’s entertainment, and that’s all that counts.

    It’s helping to fill the otherwise material rich, but soul poor world in which we presently inhabit.

    Here’s silly old me lecturing the ARU that the 8-10 teams they select for the NRC should have some meaning. That they should have some connection with the past, i.e., history, tradition, tribalism.

    Silly, silly me.

    The NRC will probably be a mish-mash of joint ventures and stand alone EOIs and guess what, it won’t matter one iota.

    As long as they throw the ball around and send the ratings skyward, they can call themselves whatever they want.

    And play in hot pink and gerkin for all the world cares.

    Fox Sports is only interested in getting a return on their investment and filling their programming quota.

    I reckon even Sydney Convicts could get a run, if they show the money up front. Who cares?

    I reckon even the Alexandria Dukes, Dundas Valley, Manly Savers or Sydney Grammar Old Boys can get a gig in the NRC providing they have the appropriate wealthy benefactor/s.

    Who are they, you ask? Oh, just the sixth division of Sydney Suburban Rugby, the Meldrum Cup.

    I apologise most, most humbly for having the temerity to think people even cared about the history and tradition of their past.

    I used to think I was a pretty good rugby lock, but now realise I was deluded. My nickname is a truncation of my surname, so I'm not Arabic - phew! However, sometimes I imagine myself as a Beau Geste in the French Foreign Legion, fighting evil, righting wrongs, promoting good and rescuing damsels in distress.

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