Just where is rugby at in Australia, currently? There’s been so much talk and commentary and opinion over the last 12 months about how perilous the situation is for the game in this country.
As a fan, you seriously have to wonder sometimes if there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
» ARU CEO Bill Pulver answers your burning questions
For all the doom and gloom – and there’s obviously been a lot if some of the states were so worried about the impact on their marketing of the game that they asked that it cease – I do like that ARU CEO Bill Pulver is speaking in sensible tones. Rugby in Australian needs to be smarter about how it operates, Pulver tells us, and that means that nothing is out of scope when it comes to potential cost savings.
In many ways, Pulver is on hiding to nothing. Rugby simply could not continue in the manner it had been prior to his arrival or the professional game would go belly up. There were numerous reports late last year that the game was close to insolvency. Maybe it still is. It’s a scary thought.
However, Pulver also needs a flourishing game for the code to remain a viable professional option. And that’s difficult if there’s no money to spend in the important areas.
So if I could put some questions to the ARU boss, what would they be?
Well, I’m glad you asked. I have four.
Is all the cost-cutting having a positive effect on the game’s finances?
The States have had their budgets slashed. HQ at St.Leonards in Sydney was downsized last year from two floors to one. Staff numbers have been drastically cut, and the big one, every club in the country has been hit with a $200 levy.
But is it all working? And how long, or what will it take for rugby’s finances to look healthy again?
What is Australia’s preferred model for Super Rugby from 2016, and how close will that be to what eventuates?
We know we’re already looking at 17 teams, and talk continues about an 18th team from Asia being invited into the fold.
But how will it all work? Are we looking at four conferences and two divisions as has widely been reported, or is one full home-and-away round still a possibility?
Now that it’s likely the National Rugby Championship will go ahead this year, can we expect a flood of major announcements?
When the NRC concept was announced, Expressions of Interest were going to close mid-January, with announcements on the number and location of teams a month later. It’s nearly six weeks beyond that point, but only now do we know that the NRC will more than likely go ahead.
Is rugby doing enough to promote and market itself in Australia?
Any Super Rugby promotion seems to be localised and dependent on the game. The Super Rugby television ad is sighted as often as the thylacine, and I honestly can’t say if I’ve seen it on free-to-air television at all.
Is the concept of rugby, let alone actual games, getting in front of enough eyes in Australia?
The best part of asking these questions? We’re very fortunate that The Roar‘s positive ongoing relationship with the ARU means these questions will be answered in the coming week, by Bill Pulver himself.
And that’s not all. This article today is not just about my questions, but a call for you Roarers to submit your questions as well. Anything that’s on your mind as far as Australian rugby goes, submit your questions here today in the comments section.
Wallabies, Super Rugby, National Rugby Championship, club, school, grassroots, Sevens, they’re all in our scope. Finances, marketing, television and media coverage are too.
Your questions, my questions, along with questions from my expert colleagues including Clyde Rathbone and Spiro Zavos will be collated and sifted, with the best questions forwarded to the ARU this week.
Bill Pulver’s answers to these questions will appear on the site next Monday, 31 March.
In addition to scoring the exclusive of the ARU CEO’s answers, The Roar will conduct a Live Q&A session with Bill Pulver on Wednesday, 2 April between 12-1pm.
It’s extraordinary access we’ve been given to the head of the game in Australia, and we’re very appreciative to the Australian Rugby Union for the opportunity.
So start with the tough questions today, and mark April 2 down in your diaries. Everything you’ve wanted to ask Bill Pulver could be knocked off over the next week and a half.
The Roar asked our experts to get the ball rolling.
Spiro Zavos asks:
1. What are you doing about the loss of influence with John O’Neill’s resignation from the Rugby World Cup organising comittee? O’Neill had a huge influence on the laws committee, the payment of SANZAR countries for RWC year losses, and the politics of the IRB, such as the RWC 2003 in Australia and 2011 in New Zealand.
2. What about the poor attitude SANZAR takes to supporters with the local referee system, the clashing jerseys, the lack of promotion of big matches and players and the general way SANZAR keeps everyone out of the loop? SANZAR needs reform – are you going to lead the charge?
Clyde Rathbone asks:
What do you consider the single greatest risk to the future of Australian Rugby?
Scott Allen asks:
You’ve made significant cuts to the overheads in head office expenditure since you started – how do Australia’s overheads now compare to other top nations?
» ARU CEO Bill Pulver answers your burning questions