Rugby’s a business, right? So don’t blame Cox if he takes his elsewhere

Will Knight Columnist

By Will Knight, Will Knight is a Roar Expert

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    Let’s call the company Turinui-English Nuclear Science Enterprises (TENSE).

    It was a financially-distressed firm when it was bought two years ago and rebranded by Morgan Turinui and Tom English, two Melbourne-based businessmen who mapped out a vision to turn TENSE around.

    The company had bled money for five years, but Turinui and English would make TENSE a leader in the field of nuclear medicine technologies.

    There was much potential in a fertile marketplace. They would grow the company, bring on investors and be lauded for their work.

    But despite a robust business plan, some personnel changes, much anticipation and plenty of passion and energy, TENSE’s results didn’t change.

    They couldn’t attract enough true believers. Overseas competitors were hammering them and they sat on the bottom of the pile domestically. The company’s value stagnated, at best. Might have even fallen. People in the so-called lucrative Melbourne market were sticking with traditional medicines that had been around for over 100 years.

    Turinui and English wanted to keep the faith, but the writing was on the wall. TENSE had already burnt through loads of cash. How long could they keep it going? The strong, viable, sustainable company they envisaged wasn’t coming to fruition and there weren’t any signs of a turnaround.

    But then the bombshell.

    Some surprising regulatory changes meant an industry body – Australian Nuclear Research United (ANRU) – became an interested suitor.

    They made it clear from the start that if they bought TENSE they’d close it down soon after. There were too many players in the market, TENSE had been underperforming for too long and it was hard to see how TENSE could start making money.

    Turinui and English were reportedly set to be offered between $6 million and $10 million.

    What were they to do?

    It was hard to tell whether they would come out winners or losers if the sale went ahead, but given the risk and stress of pouring money into a business venture, perhaps they would pocket a nice little earner after all.

    And who could begrudge them?

    Maybe that analogy was cumbersome, but why is rugby union any different? We’re constantly told that professional sport is a business, right?

    Put yourself in the shoes of Melbourne Rebels owner Andrew Cox.

    No matter which way you dice it, the Super Rugby club hasn’t made substantial inroads in Australia’s second-biggest city.

    Their on-field results over six-and-a-half years have been poor and they’ve won one game of 10 this season.

    Fans aren’t flocking to AAMI Park. There’s no buzz for the Rebels around the city. The outlook is pretty gloomy.

    Tony McGahan Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    What would you do if the ARU wanted to hand you $6-10 million to walk away from a fragile business? Would you, as a business person, take the exit?

    We can assume Cox is a savvy businessman with 25 years of experience. His investment company, Imperium Capital Group, has stakes in hotels and restaurants.

    Surely he didn’t buy the Melbourne Rebels in the middle of 2015 as a philanthropic plaything.

    That’s why we shouldn’t be shocked if Cox approaches the potential sale of the Rebels to the Australian Rugby Union like any other of his business transactions. And isn’t he entitled to that?

    After all, Cox bought the Rebels after they had lost $3.3 million in 2014. The ARU were understandably keen to get that liability off their balance sheet.

    It was a deal praised at the time by Rebels chairman Jonathan Ling, who said the sale was “very good news for the club, our business partners, our fans and members”.

    Perhaps being privately owned will come back to bite the Rebels. The ARU can focus on paying out Cox, arguably an easier option than the possibility of drawn-out legal action that the Western Force – backed by the West Australian government – might pursue if cut from the competition.

    Cox could also choose to fight tooth and nail with the ARU in a bid to be retained in a 16-team Super Rugby competition or even survive in place of the Force.

    He’d no doubt win himself a whole lot of fans if he stands up for rugby in Victoria and commits to forging on to build a competitive and sustainable club.

    I’m sure Cox saw opportunity and a bright future two years ago; perhaps even now he can picture himself at Rebels reunions in 20 years’ time with adoring former players back-slapping him for his foresight and determination as rugby union was rammed headlong into the AFL-obsessed Melbourne market. He could be up for the battle.

    ben-meehan-rebels-super-rugby-2017

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    I worked at Saracens in the late 1990s and was lucky enough to get to know the chairman and owner Nigel Wray. He had built a substantial fortune in the London property market but nonetheless was prepared to absorb financial losses over a number of seasons as he pursued his ambition of building a European rugby powerhouse.

    He got there in emphatic fashion. That’s one shining rugby example of how private ownership can work after an early battering.

    The pulse is weak and the circumstances very different but there’s always hope that an emboldened Cox could resuscitate the Rebels in the same vein if given a few more years.

    But there was Turinui earlier in the week lobbying like a rusted-on trade union official, effectively demanding Cox guarantee his workers their jobs.

    The Rebels assistant coach slammed the ARU’s handling of the Super Rugby team cull as an “absolute disgrace”; the players’ association had gone missing; the mental health of the Rebels players was called into question.

    It was heartfelt, forthright and at times emotive. Turinui wanted to vent and he didn’t waste his chance. Respect to Turinui for standing up for his players.

    As good a spray as it was, it’s fanciful to think that the Rebels and Force, Australia’s elite players – via the players association RUPA – and the Victorian Rugby Union can win the PR war.

    Without looking at dismal TV ratings and below-par crowds, what about this season’s results? Are the Rebels, RUPA and the VRU got blindfolds on? Are they in denial? Australia can’t support five Super Rugby teams.

    Can I suggest that every time a Rebels player, RUPA boss Ross Xenos or a VRU official plead the case for the five-team status quo in Australia, their testimony is interspersed with video clips from Melbourne’s 56-18 loss to the Blues, their 71-6 capitulation to the Hurricanes or the 44-3 mauling they copped from the Southern Kings?

    At least the Kings – one of the South African teams on the cull list – have galvanised and stepped up in adversity. The Force have been gritty. The 17th-placed Rebels would’ve gained more fans if desperation for survival had translated into sorely needed wins.

    The Rebels need to stand behind their results and be judged accordingly. They’ve hardly earned the right for retention. Do they believe inclusion is their right? That’s the great thing about sport – results are the currency and they paint a vivid picture over time about competitiveness.

    Professional sport is a business, and people are there to make money and make competitions and clubs viable. Tough calls need to be made.

    Turinui brought mental health into the picture. It seems to me that if the ARU made a quick decision they would be accused of lack of consultation, belligerence, a knee-jerk reaction; drag it out and they’re indecisive, lacking leadership and affecting mental health.

    I’m sympathetic to those wanting clarity and job security, but as a comparison, how many NRL players are there as yet unsigned for next season? About 150.

    The ARU have guaranteed that Super Rugby players from the axed club with contracts for next season and beyond will be paid.

    And as Michael Cheika said on Fox Sports early in the week, players have options if the indecision is unbearable.

    Why wait if that contract offer from Northampton, Narbonne or the NEC Green Rockets is ready to go? End the uncertainty.

    Rebels winger English demanded a few weeks ago that it’s time for the ARU to “rip the band-aid off”. Perhaps the Rebels owner will be the one that does it before the ARU are forced to.

    Will Knight
    Will Knight

    An AAP writer for more than a decade, Will Knight does his best to make sense of all things cricket, rugby union and rugby league, all while trying to have a laugh along the way. You can find him on Twitter @WKnightrider.

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    The Crowd Says (187)

    • May 19th 2017 @ 7:40am
      Cynical Play said | May 19th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      Yes. Rip the band aid off but does the ARU have enough swabs?

      Merge.

      Southern Brum-bels.

      Keep the toe in the Melbourne door.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 8:14am
        Bakkies said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        ‘Southern Brum-bels.’

        Stick that up your hole

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 8:16am
          Fionn said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

          Hahhahaha

        • May 19th 2017 @ 10:22am
          Cynical Play said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          It’s tongue in cheek Einstein.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 8:36am
        Brizvegas said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        Goodbye Rebels

      • Roar Guru

        May 19th 2017 @ 9:54am
        Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        Great idea.

        Why kill one team when you can kill two at once!

      • May 20th 2017 @ 11:50am
        Republican said | May 20th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        …..no way.
        Why?
        Because that would always lead to a Melbourne takeover, so ultimately a move away from Canberra given that cities commercial clout.
        Perhaps Melbourne have to resign themselves to the possibility that they cannot have it all.
        If the criteria was merit based then Melbourne wouldn’t sport a Union or League side but alas that is no longer relevant when growing the business of sport and this is why you have plastic entities i.e. the Storm, Rebels, Gold Coast Suns, GWS and so on it goes………

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:21am
      tyrone said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      I think the ARU should merge the Brumbies and Rebels, let Cox have a 51% controlling interest and allow the ACT rugby union to control both ACT and Victorian rugby under a new united entity.

      Split some games to Victoria, maybe 4 games a season in Melbourne. I would not give them half as ACT is more of a Rugby area.

      Brumbies get first option for any Rebels players to satisfy COX with an instantly good team that should be a competitor.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 8:44am
        Bakkies said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        People are deluded about this. Mergers don’t work in Rugby (even the Saffers have ruled that out) and you have rocks in your head if you think this would be a competitive side

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 8:59am
          sheek said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          The only mergers the work are when both parties willingly agree to combine resources.

          Forced mergers never work.

          Some people should stop pretending to be generals pouring over war maps. They don’t have any idea & nor does anyone proposing forced mergers.

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 9:02am
            Fionn said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

            Can confirm, as a rusted on Brumbies fan I wouldn’t support the new Frankenstein monster of a team.

            • May 19th 2017 @ 11:53am
              Jacko said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

              So what do yu think the teams will be next year Fionn? Your Brumbies will be a merger between the left-overs from the dropped club and your current playing list. So its nothing to do with rugby then? Its all about what the name of YOUR franchise is called.

              Brumbies and Rebels merge with new name and a mixed player roster…NO I COULD NEVER SUPPORT THAT

              Brumbies sign the same Rebels players to them……….All good

              So you end up with exactly the same players, coaches, staff etc etc yet you refuse to support one but absolutely love the other………Whats the difference? YOU

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2017 @ 11:56am
                Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                That and the fact that half of the very few home games would be in another city…

              • May 19th 2017 @ 12:43pm
                Fionn said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

                They wouldn’t be the Brumbies, Jacko. It’s not just the players, it’s the fact they’re a team with roots in the community, and history here in Canberra. You see the players just walking around casually all of the time, and they’re always friendly and polite. It wouldn’t be the same if they merged. I think we all know that.

                I’d rather they just cut the Brumbies than destroy both the Brumbies and the Rebels.

              • May 20th 2017 @ 9:02am
                AlBo said | May 20th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

                As a rusted on Tahs fan I would happily see half the Waratahs games go to Newcastle, Wollongong, Central Coast and a non-Homebush Western Sydney stadium.

                Because the growth of the game is far more important in my eyes. It’s a team. We can support in other ways and connect in other ways. The ACT is a very small territory. It needs a bigger fan base and to serve that bigger fan base. History is important but so is rugby. Keep the name, take the players, but play a few games in Melbourne. Represent more of Australia than Canberra. Become a team for the Southern Eastern Seaboard. How is that a bad thing?

              • May 20th 2017 @ 2:46pm
                Bakkies said | May 20th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                AIBo it’s a pathetic thing and as usual your resort to SMH type and make decisions about the Brumbies without understanding the place and contracts in play

              • May 20th 2017 @ 11:59am
                Republican said | May 20th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

                ……..yes indeed it may well be an illusion and indeed a contradiction but some continue to delude themselves that tribalism is real.
                No matter how clinical commercialism renders tribalism, it would seem that the flame continues to flicker in the darkness.
                Ignore it at your own peril bankers one and all……

              • Roar Guru

                May 20th 2017 @ 12:36pm
                Fionn said | May 20th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

                AIBo, maybe that is because the Waratahs have traditionally been a New South Wales and not a Sydney team?

                You’re comparing moving NSW Waratahs matches to other parts of NSW, which are already part of the Waratahs area, to moving Brumbies matches to an area hundreds of ks away, and with another state in between.

                The ACT and Vic don’t even border, and the difference is that the Waratahs would remain primarily based in Sydney even if they actually did their job and engaged more of NSW than they currently do.

                That makes it a poor, bordering on terrible, comparison.

                Let’s recreate the Prussian corridor, that worked out brilliantly last time.

            • May 20th 2017 @ 9:43am
              Darkhorse said | May 20th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              These guys just won’t listen.
              It’s like groundhog day – everyday you read an article on the Roar, then you go to the comments and there will be someone (usually Force fans) calling for the Brumbies to be merged.
              The day after, wash, rinse, repeat. The new mantra, with all the attached wild comments about being the best Australian side over the last 2 and a half weeks, wallaby factory, etc.
              Just hope they going to say which team will be put out of they misery soon.

              • May 21st 2017 @ 3:29pm
                Marlins Tragic said | May 21st 2017 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

                Only 10 out of your entire squad of 39 come from Canberra, that’s not even half!

                So who do the Brumbies REALLY represent? Canberra or Sydney & Brisbane where 60% of your players come from!

                Merging to form the Southern Brumbies give you even more access to our Sydney & Brisbane developed juniors via the Rebels.

                You also get to keep a team each in the NRC for local player development before they transition into a Southern Brumbies Academy with the best talent from Canberra & Melbourne coming together.

                Surely that makes sense, even to the most rusted on Brumbies supporter, whom don’t even seem to be attending games in Canberra anyway.

            • May 20th 2017 @ 11:53am
              Republican said | May 20th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

              ……more power to you Fionn and nor would most here in the nations capital.
              This devotion would then give the powers that be leverage to relocate the Brumbies to Melbourne lock stock and barrel.
              Watch this space because the Brumbies are still fair game in respect of being completely undermine in the next chapter of Australia’s Super Rugby miniseries……..

          • May 19th 2017 @ 9:14am
            Enrique TOPO Rodriguez said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

            yep Sheek, no the mullah!

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 9:56am
            Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

            And in those cases Sheek its a case of greater good for all.

            A good example is probably the North Harbour Rays who are a merger of the 4 Northern SS teams, who put their differences aside to be part of an entity at a higher level.

            In the NRL most of the mergers have seen the marginalization of one partner. Likewise the Fitzroy Lions and Brisbane Bears merger in the AFL.

          • May 19th 2017 @ 10:43am
            RugbyCrop said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            Didn’t rugby league force mergers and cull teams from their comp some years ago?
            What ever happened to North Sydney Bears and Newtown Bluebags?
            Evolution is inevitable. Cull the Rebels and move the Brumbies to Melbourne give them to
            Andrew Cox let him select a playing squad from both teams. Wasps (UK) moved from London
            to Coventry because of financial difficulties and are now travelling like a train that stops at no stations.

            • Roar Guru

              May 19th 2017 @ 11:58am
              Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

              The NRL had 20 teams when they did that and the issue was support was split too much across Sydney.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 19th 2017 @ 12:30pm
              Paul D said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

              There is massive difference between merging 2 teams that are adjacent/ within a short drive to each other and ones in different states.

              There are already too few home games per season.

            • May 19th 2017 @ 4:32pm
              soapit said | May 19th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

              mergers tend to happen more readily when theres multiple teams on the chopping block and theres lots of them potentially in the firing line.

              with only 1 to go its a much less perceived risk

              • May 20th 2017 @ 12:28pm
                Train Without A Station said | May 20th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

                Very good point soapit

          • May 19th 2017 @ 9:45pm
            davSA said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:45pm | ! Report

            And Good Old Boys Drinking Whiskey and Rye saying This Will Be The Day That I …… I’ve used this songline before in describing exactly how I see the decision making of the inner sanctum of rugby management . Be it in Australia or SA ..No difference.

            • Roar Rookie

              May 19th 2017 @ 10:54pm
              Kirky said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:54pm | ! Report

              davSA ~ well put mate, and fact to boot!

      • Roar Guru

        May 19th 2017 @ 10:24am
        Timbo (L) said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        I still think a Force-Rebels Merger would work better.
        Both teams are struggling financially and I believe the remaining one will get the chop in 2 years anyway.
        By finding a player and fan friendly way to combine the 2, a viable franchise emerges from the ashes.
        We hall call it the southwestern Pheonixes.

        • May 19th 2017 @ 10:28am
          Bakkies said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

          ‘By finding a player and fan friendly way to combine the 2’

          It would be a disaster for the players and coaches.

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 5:48pm
            Timbo (L) said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

            Better or worse than losing their jobs?
            Remember, these guys are on the road most of the time anyway.

            • May 20th 2017 @ 3:08am
              Bakkies said | May 20th 2017 @ 3:08am | ! Report

              50% of them would be losing their jobs in a merger

        • May 19th 2017 @ 11:10am
          Forceright said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          Seriously!? So I guess you are completely oblivious to the success of the Own The Force Campaign? So tired of Eastern Staters who have NEVER even BEEN to WA and yet are armchair experts on all that’s going at the Force! Wakeup boys and try checking your facts before you spout! I give up!

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 6:00pm
            Timbo (L) said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:00pm | ! Report

            Hey, I want the Force to prevail as much as you do but I have empathy for the Rebels as well and don’t want the Force’s survival to be on the bones of another franchise. I have no problem sharing my team. Statistically, the collective “WE” don’t go to the home games, opting to watch them on the TV. What difference would we see?

            I believe that Australian rugby needs to keep as wide a footprint as possible.
            The unaffected franchises should feel some of the pain as well, and if that means giving up their home games and get a smaller salary cap, so, be it.

            PS, the own the Force program won’t increase the Foxtel Viewers need to boost the ratings to make the competition solvent.

        • May 19th 2017 @ 11:27am
          Perthstayer said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

          Timbo –

          By not involving stakeholders the ARU robbed them of even getting around a table. Even if they did not reach agreement they would at least have had a chance.

          Bakkies

          I am WF fan. I would be stunned if a “fan friendly” alternative could be found. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t listen to any proposals. As I believe everyone should try to do. We all have strong opinions but there’s no gain to painting ARU into a corner.

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 6:13pm
            Timbo (L) said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

            Thanks PS, I appreciate your open mind.

            Here is my fan friendly solution :
            Reds,Tah’s and Ponies move a home game each – they can suck it up and be thankful for the extra cash. Call it regional development.
            5 Games at NIB, 5 at AAMI

            As Bakkies says, the players and coaches would be the most affected.
            I only have a partial solution that requires an expanded squad and player rotation and maintaining 2 facilities. It would promote player development and depth as a happy by-product.

            The alternative is Sheik’s suggestion of 4 teams with players drawn from anywhere which has the same player and coach relocation problems..

            Or losing a Franchise and an entire state. Which sucks the big one.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:36am
      ScottD said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      Yes, good piece

      Perhaps you should write another article about what needs to happen AFTER the surgery?

      That seems to be another missing piece in the discussion. The Rebels shouldn’t be terminated without a coherent plan to keep a Victorian team in the NRC and another plan for how we get them back into the SR at the appropriate time.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:54am
      BAgs said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Will, this is the best article yet written about this problem. Professional sport is a business. The ARU needs to make money, not lose money, to support grass roots. The ARU will be eviscerated here no matter what decision they make and no matter what time frame is followed, and no matter if they work collaboratively, confidentially or in any spot in between. The team that is cut will attract great sympathy, as will the players. But so to do the workers at Kodak, Ford, Toyota, Holden, Queensland Nickel etc. Thanks for the insight and lack of venom.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 11:28am
        Neil said | May 19th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        Well put BAgs and a great article Will. Unfortunately, while a lot of people yearn for the good old days of amateur rugby, it is a professional sport and, like any professional sport, there are only so many places available. As Cheika said, there are options and a lot of these options aren’t going to be in Australia. If rugby and the ARU is to fund the growth of the sport through the grassroots, they need the revenues that flow from broadcast rights, etc. It is simply illogical to think it can be any other way.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 10:12pm
        Unanimous said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

        Sports teams are not equivalent to businesses. No sports team can produce a product on its own. All teams in all leagues in the world depend on league money for survival. Almost none of them make a profit on their own. In all successful leagues there is cooperation and coordination off the field to produce competition on it.

        SR does not distribute money or set off field rules to make its teams be competitive. The biggest drain on ARU money has always been the Waratahs. Expansion teams have been given no chance, and rugby has been drown nationally because of it. SR has long needed to act like other sports and do the standard things that sports do. It hasn’t and so it is failing.

        The above article is one of the most ignorant articles about sport as a business that I have read.

        • May 20th 2017 @ 8:25am
          Train Without A Station said | May 20th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          That league money is from the TV product the teams provide though.

          It’s still a business, just the metrics you judge may not always be financial.

          • May 20th 2017 @ 7:52pm
            Unanimous said | May 20th 2017 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

            The league as a whole is equivalent to a business. Individual teams are not at all like ordinary businesses.

            Blaming a team for poor performance only makes sense when the team has been given equal access to everything teams need to perform. If not it is the league’s fault.

            A team should only ever be cut or moved if it has had some reasonable success on the field and still drawn a crowd distinctly smaller than average.

            The Kings are a perfect example of a team not to cut, but to be given an equal chance. They have had some 40,000+ crowds in their history, and recently 22,000 with just the tiniest hints of success on the field. The Rebels and Force have also had some good crowds at times without ever having a reasonable chance at sustained on-field success.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 8:56am
      hog said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Well maybe they should have done a bit more due diligence about the product they were buying, since it turned out the blueprints to there nice little science enterprise were brought 2nd hand on ebay from a Chernobyl web address.

      Melbourne is a city of 5.5 million people with a vibrant sporting scene that supports something like 20/25 professional sporting teams over 1/2 dozen different sporting codes with some of the best sporting stadia in the world.

      Yet Super rugby has been a dismal failure there, maybe the ARU should spend a bit more time on that question.

    • Roar Guru

      May 19th 2017 @ 8:57am
      sheek said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      Like I keep saying I’m opposed to any cull.

      The ARU are being played for mugs. They need to waken up. No team should even be considered to be culled until we know what SA is doing.

      There’s all sorts of rumours coming out of the Republic – like, cut two Aussie teams, or look at Europe.

      Australia should not make any decision until we know exactly where SA is heading.

      Imagine how stupid the ARU will look, beyond how stupid it already looks, if it culls a team only to discover SA wants to play in Europe after all.

      I’ve maintained all along that SANZAAR is the principle culprit here, even if the accompanying national unions were their willing lackeys. Australia should not be doing the dirty work for SANZAAR.

      Let SANZAAR face the heat for its ridiculous structure forced on everyone in 2016. Let them untangle it through public humiliation.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 9:40am
        Enrique TOPO Rodriguez said | May 19th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

        Sheek & Co,

        I’ve suggested this before several times – SANZAR must re-invent themselves by organising the TPRC (TRANS-PACIFIC RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP) with Promotion & Relegation [A & B Zones]

        This will be a truly international representative competition for provincial rugby selections of 8 countries, to start in 2018 with Argentina, Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan, NZ and South Africa.

        Only two teams per country to participate (sorry NZ, you have great players but a potential for only 4M TV viewers and small sponsorship money to be considered). This is a ‘business consideration’ (as everybody loves quipping or justifying)

        Second year (2019) a shorter version:

        The top eight teams to remain in the “A Zone”; and
        The last eight teams to be relegated to the “B Zone.”

        AUSTRALIA’s dramas: The five provincial sides as they exist today will play the National Rugby Championship for those two spots to TPRC as a huge ‘trophy’ incentive

        Once the NRC is completed, the two finalists will be able to pick five players from the remaining three bottom teams to beef up the international performances of the top two (a bit of National pride to be built in it once and for all)

        Therefore, this will take care of the much-needed depth that today is completely diluted and non-existent in Australia. South Africa, Argentina and other countries should follow suit because this is the best way to raise the quality and competitiveness of all teams, which is ‘the quality content that SANZAR and TV want to display and EXPLOIT!

        Go you figure!!

        • May 19th 2017 @ 10:09am
          DanFan said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

          Oh so we are not talking about a quality product here just a convenient one for Australia.

        • May 19th 2017 @ 10:19am
          Darwin Stubbie said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

          That will surely kill rugby stone dead in the SH within 5 years

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 10:23am
            Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

            I tend to agree.

            Not enough teams to engage the local market. Too many games in odd time zones.

            2nd Tier competitions which will lose support.

            Why are AFL and NRL successful? I’m sure games at 8PM ever Friday and Saturday and 3PM every Saturday and Sunday are a huge factor.

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 10:27am
            Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            And then consider overseas Rugby.

            20+ game seasons all in the same time zones.

            English Premiership. All games all rounds at around 8PM on Fri/Sat or 1-3PM on Sat/Sun.

            Top 14. All games around all rounds at around 6-9PM on Fri/Sat or 12-4PM on Sat/Sun.

            No games in the AM hours. No games shown during business hours on business days.

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 12:29pm
          sheek said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          Topo,

          I certainly agree we need to find a way to engage the Pacific islands in a meaningful way. But your suggestion requires more tinkering.

          • Roar Guru

            May 19th 2017 @ 12:32pm
            Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

            I disagree.

            As the old saying goes. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

            • May 19th 2017 @ 1:05pm
              Neil said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

              Exactly, Train.

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2017 @ 1:11pm
                Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

                Can’t help anybody if we go broke.

                Look after ourselves and we may get ourselves into a position where we can then look after others much better.

          • May 19th 2017 @ 12:46pm
            Enrique TOPO Rodriguez said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

            Sheek and Co,

            Don’t you think it is about time New Zealand and Australia stopped raping and pillaging the Pacific Nations rugby teams?

            They should stand alone, then we will have a frank and true appraisal of the available talent.
            E.g. HOW STRONG THE ALL BLACKS AND WALLABIES REALLY ARE?

            Why doesn’t World Rugby protect the smaller rugby playing nations by banning the open ‘horse trading’ that has been going on for 30 years?

            MONEY AND HUMAN RESOURCES ARE THE MAIN INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO SUCCEED IN A COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT 2017.

            Food for thought

            EERB.TOPO

            • Roar Guru

              May 19th 2017 @ 12:50pm
              Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

              No.

              It’s a professional game. Without this “raping and pillaging” all those players “raped and pillaged” would be considerably worse off as the islands are unable to provide the professional infrastructure to support them in any meaningful way.

              • May 19th 2017 @ 1:03pm
                Enrique TOPO Rodriguez said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

                Exactly as Skeek referred to before!,

                More of this ‘shortsightedness’ vs the Longer Term Vision of SOME old politicians, business people or engineers like BRADFIELD and his massively futuristic design of the Sydney Harbour Bridge) LOL!

                ‘Balance and Equanimity’ is what you receive in life together with knowledge and experience in exchange for wearing down your joints, muscles and senses!

                Rugby traditionally has been since inception ‘TOP HEAVY’ and with professionalism, since 1996 it has become even HEAVIER and full of self-serving leeches! DOUBLE LOL

              • Roar Guru

                May 19th 2017 @ 1:08pm
                Train Without A Station said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

                Rugby is not top heavy with professionalism.

                It’s the opposite if anything if you want to succeed in the market. To succeed in the market you need prime time sport with regularity. For that you need more teams not less.

                If there’s less rugby there’s less to talk about and it gets less media coverage, which is the biggest marketing for sport.

                This is why we are overly reliant on the Wallabies and they play more tests than most nations.

                And it’s hardly shortsighted for players to want to get the most they can financially out of there career.

                I generally want to do this with my own career.

            • May 19th 2017 @ 1:05pm
              concerned supporter said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

              TOPO,
              Thank you for your posting.It is all about MONEY!
              The NRL is doing something similar.
              Look at the quality of especially Fijian wingers in both Union & League.
              I think it is too late to stop the emigration to Australia & NZ.
              Don’t you think that the Pacific Islanders (Polynesian & Melanesian) are the best
              Rugby Players on the Planet?

              • May 19th 2017 @ 1:12pm
                Enrique TOPO Rodriguez said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

                Esteemed CS,
                They Pacific Islands have excellent players but would not call them = the best
                Rugby Players on the Planet?

                They are very physical and skilful but some of them also lack the mental discipline for tight encounters and even problem-solving in regards to strategy and tactics.

                However, give them the ball and a bit of space and you end up dancing to their tune and not the other way around!

                Cheers

              • May 19th 2017 @ 1:32pm
                concerned supporter said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

                TOPO,
                You are very polite.You are the proper esteemed one, a great Dual International.
                I am some bloke who played lower grades in Sydney with my mates in the 1960’s.
                Cheers

              • May 19th 2017 @ 2:14pm
                Darwin Stubbie said | May 19th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                Wow .. that is an extremely poor post ..

            • Roar Guru

              May 19th 2017 @ 2:13pm
              sheek said | May 19th 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

              Topo,

              I agree entirely.

              Unfortunately when professionalism came, the Pacific Islands were sidelined because, apart from producing brilliant athletes, they had nothing else to offer, in the professional sense, of population size & disposal income. In short, no wealth to tap into.

              Frustrated that they weren’t part of any southern hemisphere sporting structure, the PIs began emigrating to NZ & Australia, then beyond to England & Wales, now France, & probably in the not too distant future, Scotland & Ireland.

              I find it frustrating that there are guys in the Wallabies & it is difficult to know if they were born & raised here, or have come as opportunist mercenaries.

              Player profiles are being changed to hide how & where players grew up or when they moved countries.

              It’s a very unsatisfactory system. i would prefer the islanders to be playing for their country of birth & heritage, i.e., Fiji, Samoa or Tonga, rather than playing for NZ or Australia as a second choice.

              But we can’t blame them for the current situation, it was created by other forces & other folk.

            • May 19th 2017 @ 2:15pm
              Darwin Stubbie said | May 19th 2017 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

              Lazy logic that fails to recognise such things as migration

          • May 19th 2017 @ 1:30pm
            Gatesy said | May 19th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

            Sheek, I’ve found the solution and the way to make sure we keep winning.. just like Sth Africa!

            We only play in our time zones! Absolutely brilliant.

            We could play teams from PNG, the Phillipines, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia and some of the Pacific Islands.

            We’d win every time!

            There you go – I’ve saved the day!!

            • Roar Guru

              May 19th 2017 @ 2:16pm
              sheek said | May 19th 2017 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

              Gatesy – brilliant!

      • May 19th 2017 @ 10:15am
        Darwin Stubbie said | May 19th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        You do understand what SANZAAR stands for ? .. and more specifically what one of those As represents

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