The Wrap: Chaos reigns as Super Rugby finals take shape

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    Super Rugby isn’t any more broken than it was a month ago, or even two years ago, when expansion to 18 teams bought about a format so wretched it has sent the whole competition into a death spiral.

    But with each passing week, Bill Pulver and the ARU must wonder where exactly the bottom of the abyss is, as things invariably turn worse, not better.

    In normal times, the Force demolishing the Waratahs would be embraced as justification for Australian rugby spreading the game beyond the NSW-Queensland nexus and increasing the talent pool for Wallabies selection.

    In normal times, Australia’s wealthiest man getting in behind rugby, pledging financial and moral support to the franchise in his region would be embraced by a cash-strapped ARU.

    But these are not normal times.

    It isn’t exactly clear what form of support Andrew Forrest is offering the Force in their campaign, but the details don’t really matter right now. Australia’s heaviest hitter is in their corner and when he says the Force is going nowhere the players and fans – and probably the ARU too – have good reason to believe him.

    Many fans have got suckered into determining which Australian franchise gets culled from Super Rugby based on week-to-week results. Or, if it suits their argument, this season’s results. The Rebels lost to the Jaguares, the Force beat the Waratahs, therefore out with Melbourne, in with Perth, that sort of thing.

    That such nonsense is allowed any credence is due to the ARU never ratifying what the criteria for the elimination process is. As a result, fans apply their own, and destructive arguments fester.

    Another outcome is that both franchises have shored up their positions in their own way, to a point where they both believe that they are on very solid structural and financial footing to avoid the axe – regardless of what the ARU wants to do.

    That the Force has finished the year strongly, to record six wins – and for all the euphoria, note that this is one win less than what the Rebels achieved last season – is a filip for their fans. It likely means nothing in terms of logical business reasoning, but in the court of public opinion, where the ARU is wallowing alongside Bernard Tomic, it is yet another embarrassing blow.

    The Force’s victory also crowned a stellar career for skipper Matt Hodgson, a foundation player for the club since 2006. The Waratahs obliged by presenting him with the easiest try he’s scored in his 140 games, and then by conceding a last-minute penalty to enable Hodgson to end the game off his boot with a successful goal.

    When captain Michael Hooper said after the match that he was proud of his team, he certainly wasn’t speaking for Waratah fans. There will be some serious soul searching taking place at Moore Park over the next few months. Meanwhile, it can be of no comfort to Wallabies supporters that the upcoming Test matches will potentially feature a large chunk of this hopelessly underperforming side.

    Bernard Foley of the Waratahs

    (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

    There was more chaos in Tokyo, with the Blues stepping out of the cold New Zealand winter into a 42-degree furnace, where they were no match for the Sunwolves, who eagerly accepted the invitation to lift themselves off the bottom of the ladder.

    Everybody knows how these things work. The Blues beat the British and Irish Lions, the Sunwolves beat the Blues. Therefore the Sunwolves would beat the Lions too. Given that the All Blacks couldn’t even beat the Lions, this means that they probably have them covered as well!

    Whatever excuses might be made for the Blues being below full strength, out of finals contention and suffering in the heat, the 48-21 loss – with 34 unanswered points in the second half if you don’t mind – starkly showed what happens when one side wants to own the ball more than the other. Just like in Perth.

    In Hamilton, with the Brumbies curiously resting a number of players who have hardly played any rugby over the last five weeks, James Lowe and Damien McKenzie found a bit more running room than they had against the Lions, the Chiefs cruising to a predictable 28-10 victory.

    To be fair, it was largely a tenacious defensive effort by the Brumbies, one that will give them a wee bit of confidence for next week’s final. Just a wee bit.

    Also predictable was the Highlanders’ 40-17 win over the Reds in Dunedin, while in Melbourne, the Rebels were good value for their 19-10 half-time lead over the Jaguares, but failed to match up when the visitors stiffened their defensive line and got rolling forward in the second half.

    It wasn’t all gloom for the Rebels; Amanaki Mafi cemented his claim to ‘Australian Franchise Player of the Year’, Jack Maddocks made a great fist of his first appearance at fullback, and Reece Hodge kicked a remarkable goal from 55 metres. But, assuming that they’ll still be around, next year can’t come soon enough.

    Amanaki Mafi of the Rebels

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    The heavyweight clash in Wellington took a long time to come to the boil, but an excellent second half saw the Hurricanes come away with an impressive 31-22 win. Of the many All Blacks on display, Ngani Laumape showed the benefit of his Lions experience with an assured game, while Jordie Barrett nailing conversions from the touchline reinforced many people’s suspicion that the wrong Barrett was kicking for goal last weekend.

    Credit also the impact in the last ten minutes of replacement prop Loni Uhila, getting back to turn over Mitchell Drummond right on his goal-line then, shortly after, burying Jordan Taufua in a massive tackle which again allowed the Hurricanes to clear their line.

    This win, their 12th of the season, rewards the Hurricanes with a trip to Canberra to face the Brumbies, they of only six wins. If this ridiculous scenario was ever contemplated on SANZAAR’s planning whiteboard, perhaps it was quickly erased, considered no prospect of ever happening. Until now that is. And last year too.

    That’s not the worst of it either. Social media and news websites in New Zealand shifted into overdrive with news of the Lions’ 27-10 win over the Sharks. This means that the Lions ensured top seeding and guaranteed home advantage throughout the finals series, despite not having once played a New Zealand side this season.

    Compared to the efforts of the Crusaders, whose loss this week was their first for the year in a far more demanding schedule, it cannot be helped but viewed by most fans as unfair. But downcast New Zealand fans should not necessarily be so quick to complain.

    When I spoke with Lions coach Johan Ackermann earlier this year, he was wary of looking too far ahead, although he did acknowledge concerns that his side will be underdone and unprepared for the increase in intensity, pace and skill that New Zealand sides will bring to the finals.

    Indeed, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck complained of the same thing last year, his side breezing through their conference without meeting New Zealand opposition, before being blown away at home in the first week of finals, 60-21 by the Chiefs.

    With the Stormers putting the Bulls away 41-33, and having already beaten the Chiefs at home this year in one of the best games of the season, there will be no expectations in Cape Town of a similar finals exit this time around.

    In other news, the Cheetahs edged out the Kings 21-20 in Round 1 of the 2018 Pro 12 competition. Or should that be the Pro 14?

    After the intensity of last week’s epic Lions versus All Blacks decider, it was nice to be able to sit back and enjoy Super Rugby this week. The trouble is, Round 17, the last round before the finals series, is exactly when intensity levels should be building to full pitch.

    Loni Uhila of the Hurricanes, right, fends off Sam Cane of the Chiefs

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    All in all, this is just another indicator of how upside down, back to front and munted (special inclusion for New Zealand readers) this competition has become.

    Can Super Rugby be saved? If the Australian franchise situation can be resolved without tearing Australian rugby apart, if other franchises can become more competitive with the New Zealand sides, and if fans are provided with a competition structure they understand and regard as fair, then perhaps yes; at least in the short term.

    In the long run, as increasing pressure is placed on elite players to join northern hemisphere clubs, then perhaps a more radical rethink will have to apply.

    There is however, one obvious solution that will fix Australian rugby and SANZAAR’s woes in one fell swoop. Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has stepped forward to throw his vast financial resources behind the Western Force.

    Don’t just stop there, Andrew. Buy the ARU while you’re at it. And then SANZAAR too. C’mon mate, it’s only a bit of loose change.

    Get in touch with a Daikin dealer today so you don’t sit and suffer through another cold winter while watching the rugby this year. Trusted by many and suitable for the Australian lifestyle, Daikin really is The Best Air Anywhere.

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    The Crowd Says (273)

    • July 17th 2017 @ 6:43am
      Shop said | July 17th 2017 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      I believe we should be getting used to the idea of not having SA or Arg involvement in Super rugby after 2019. If SANZAR had been more conservative in its expansion efforts perhaps they could have pulled it off. The current format has killed any credibility that was built up since 1996 and competitions will be soon organised according to time zones, not rugby strengths or traditional rivalry.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 8:09am
        Unanimous said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        They only needed to share the players around better as every other league in the world does. All the expansion teams got good crowds early on, but continued bottom half of the comp performances made the whole thing uncompetitive. An uncompetitive competition is a pretty silly thing.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 8:27am
          mick said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

          Agree wholeheartedly. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to limit players availability for test spots when they are still playing in the Super competition. Players are in part turning to other competitions because they will at least earn more money and see a bit of the world while not earning test caps.

          All of the countries *still* seem to see the Super comp as only a way of feeding their test teams via a very specific pathway. I don’t see why that couldn’t be opened up to achieve a better end result – and a better competition that actually pays the bills.

          Also, I’m not really sure where the protectionism is coming from. I suspect it is NZ, as they are arguably producing the largest number of high quality players, and have a local monopoly with regard to competition. The problem with this is that ultimately this thinking will (or has) destroy the competition as they press their advantage. It would make total sense if they also had a lock on the revenue generation, but they don’t – the big money comes more from the SA and Australian markets.

          • Columnist

            July 17th 2017 @ 8:47am
            Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

            Good post mick, which goes to a fundamental tension/weakness in the governance model.

            What is good for the Super Rugby competition is not necessarily good for the national unions who run the competition.

            I dare say this will be under review by all 4 nations, but I’d be very surprised if New Zealand relaxes its position any time soon to allow AB selection from outside NZ.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 9:43am
              sheek said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

              Geoff/Mick,

              If I may so, I’ve been arguing this for some time, that “what is good for the Super Rugby competition is not necessarily good for the national unions who run the competition”.

              Although I may not put it as eloquently as you guys.

              Before the head honchos of ARU, NZRU & SARU were blindsided by the Murdoch offer of more money than they had ever seen (apart from maybe their own bank accounts, e.g., Louis Luyt), had they paused before accepting the Murdoch golden cufflinks (we’ll give you unimaginable riches, but now we’ll also own you) they would have realised that in 1995 they had the structural basis of an outstanding southern hemisphere apparatus.

              Indeed, irony of ironies, the northern hemisphere developed their blueprint based on southern hemisphere rugby in 1995, while the southern hemisphere went totally into servitude to Murdoch TV broadcasting rights.

              Hindsight is a wonderful thing, & almost no-one noticed what would eventually happen as super rugby was enormously successful in the first decade.

              But somewhere along the line, somehow, the wheels started to fall off.

              It’s not at all difficult to conclude that super rugby, as a vehicle for good (for want of a more appropriate word), came crashing to a halt with the expansion to S18 in 2016, accompanied by a ridiculously illogical competition structural change.

              What has followed is one of the most disgraceful sporting betrayals I have ever seen, executed by ARU & seconded by SANZAAR.

              Well, it hasn’t happened yet, but the intent has been telegraphed.

              I weep for John Eales, whose legacy as the Wallabies greatest player & captain, is trashed by being associated with a board willing to stoop so low into the gutter of slime.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 10:06am
                DaveR said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

                Spot on Sheek. And the necessary conclusion of your comments is that all the ARU board must go for being complicit in this disaster from start to finish.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 10:13pm
                superba said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

                ARU board = Shore ( Sydney Church of England Grammar School ) old boys club .
                Unbelievable .

              • Roar Guru

                July 17th 2017 @ 12:19pm
                Train Without A Station said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

                How have the NH emulated the SH structure?

              • July 17th 2017 @ 2:13pm
                Jacko said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

                Sheek weep for John Eales all you like but he is the one not walking away…He is hanging tough to retain his job and I dont hear him complaining or even talking about any dissatisfaction so I can only summise that his opinion is clearly inline with the rest of the board…he does have choices

              • Roar Guru

                July 17th 2017 @ 3:27pm
                sheek said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                Yes TWAS,

                Basically yes.

                National premier rugby comp with winners (top teams from each domestic comp) competing in Heineken Cup (Champion’s Cup).

                Then of course, 5 nations now 6 nations.

                Bak in 1995, each country, bar Australia, had a national comp. The super rugby competent should have been a Champion’s Cup, while introducing the 3N merely formalised what was the rotation of traditional tours.

                Not exactly the same, if you want to be nit-picky. But, philosophically, northern hemisphere pinched what southern hemisphere only had to flesh out.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 7:35pm
                soapit said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

                sheek if murdoch hadnt come along with his money wouldnt the game be being run by the packers and wrc at this point?

            • July 17th 2017 @ 1:13pm
              woodart said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

              why should nzru compromise the All Blacks to help aussie rugby?

              • July 17th 2017 @ 2:43pm
                Bob said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

                It’s a franchise comp, not a national bragging rites exercise. With that attitude Super rugby is surely doomed. The AFL worked all this out in the 1990s – they introduced a draft and voila suddenly you have an extremely even interesting competition which is drawing in billions of $$ in TV rights.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 2:46pm
                Fionn said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                Great point, Bob.

              • Roar Guru

                July 17th 2017 @ 3:29pm
                sheek said | July 17th 2017 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

                Woodart,

                So that you can continue to thrash us.

                If the Kiwis don’t have the Aussies to regularly thrash, then yours will be a truly lonely world.

                Auckland & Canterbury provinces could be left to play their own version of World Series NPC!

                Besides, as others have pointed out, you need the money our bigger population & market produces.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 7:00pm
                Jacko said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

                Sheek you guys pay that money to see the best product on the market so it works both ways does it not? You will never see or admit that but the $$$ being handed over are for the quality of the product is it not?

              • July 18th 2017 @ 11:52am
                Unanimous said | July 18th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

                Because the All Blacks will be more compromised by not having a viable SR competition.

                The All Blacks can be almost as good supported by a commercially run SR with some players in Australia, but most still in NZ. They will be much less able to run a good All Blacks team with all their players in Europe.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 10:38am
            Muzzo said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            More so mick, the South African markets, that contribute, the major part of the finance.

            • July 17th 2017 @ 4:21pm
              Joe King said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

              True ATM, but the Aussie market has huge potential that could provide even more revenue for the Kiwis if they wanted it.

              • Roar Guru

                July 17th 2017 @ 4:27pm
                biltongbek said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

                That potential seems more and more unattainable every year. A strong economy that doesn’t show enough interest in rugby union

              • July 17th 2017 @ 10:04pm
                mick said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:04pm | ! Report

                Agreed, with that. I wonder if it would have gone that way if the comp was more even. Back when it was I feel like it was more popular in Oz.

              • July 18th 2017 @ 10:43pm
                SAVAGE said | July 18th 2017 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

                BS! The Aussie market does not have potential because you guys couldn’t exploit it when there was potential there for the taking…..Refer the League civil war in the 90’s, and when you held the WC & Bled and hosted a WC. You guys have been given everything you’ve asked for, extra teams, a conference system, and yet your game has languished. No more. Pissing in the wind when it comes to sorting out you guys.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 12:25pm
            Nicolai said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            MICK — TOTALLY AGREE!!!!

      • Columnist

        July 17th 2017 @ 8:43am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        Fair points shop. Nothing wrong with pursuing expansion pre se, particularly if the SANZAAR nations felt that sitting still would not grow their TV revenue and see their best players picked off by nh clubs.

        But 18 teams is a problematic number, and the structure they came up with so despised, that not only has the SR competition been severely wounded, SANZAAR itself has been weakened – which ironically might hasten the very thing they were trying to avoid.

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 9:01am
          Shop said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          That’s exactly how I see it Geoff. Expansion for SANZAR at the time I believe was necessary, however it has been done in such a thoughtless manner that the comp will ironically shrink.

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 9:05am
            Nobrain said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

            At the time evrybody wanted a piece of the cake or some type of advantage. The result, we end up with this mess.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 9:12am
              Machooka said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

              Yep!

              It’s a dog’s breakfast.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 12:32pm
                Dr Katz said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

                I disagree. My dog’s breakfast is much tidier and tastier than what’s been on offer later with Oz Super teams. It’s beyond doggo’s breaky!

        • July 17th 2017 @ 11:39am
          TheNutorious said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

          Super Rugby should be a Heineken Cup type competition run alongside logical domestic/regional tournaments. It could be expanded far beyond 18 teams and everyone would be in a much better position.

          • Columnist

            July 17th 2017 @ 1:17pm
            Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

            I think that’s where it was logically headed Nutorious.

            24 teams in sensible geographic conferences provides for a lot of flexibility to run more locally focused competitions first, before moving into finals.

            But SANZAAR got lost along the way. 18 is a difficult number and they weren’t able to deliver an acceptable structure.

            Also – and this is very important – they didn’t communicate well and signal to fans that this was a halfway step, and ask them to be patient. I’m sure fans would have been more accepting if they knew that there was a better end game coming. But when people are left in the dark, and they don’t understand what is happening to them and their competition, then fear and resentment can easily take hold.

            • July 17th 2017 @ 2:15pm
              Jacko said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

              For a comp that runs for 17 weeks 18 seems a very easy number to work with

              • Columnist

                July 17th 2017 @ 2:45pm
                Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                As long as you don’t have to pay the travel bill for one big round robin comp Jacko.

                But they do. Plus they have research that says people want more local derby games.

                So once round robin is off the table, then it starts to get tricky.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 6:18pm
                Unanimous said | July 17th 2017 @ 6:18pm | ! Report

                No – just schedule more local games. You can have a single table without everyone playing everyone the same number of times, or even without everyone playing everyone at all.

                You can even have NZ teams playing SA teams more than AU teams if you like – different priorities can be accomodated much better without groupings or conferences.

                All you need to fill a champioship table is teams playing games. It’s not at all hard.

                If you want to get fancy with the schedule, you can even get closer to providing teams with the same average strength of opposition than round robin can because round robin has no scope to adjust for teams not being able to play themselves.

            • July 17th 2017 @ 4:23pm
              Joe King said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

              Exactly Geoff! They should have communicated where it was all going

              • Columnist

                July 17th 2017 @ 5:35pm
                Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

                Change Management 101 Joe is about signalling the change and communicating well the reasons for the change, to those affected.

                As you say, this was a bad miss.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 8:57am
        sheek said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

        Losing SA & Argentina would make no logical sense.

        One of the better or best things about southern hemisphere rugby is the four nations Rugby Championship.

        it would be extremely difficult for the Boks & Pumas to be competitive in the RC while their leading teams & players are participating out of season in Europe.

        It’s that kind of impractical thinking that has super rugby on its knees. S18 is one of the most impractically structured, tortuously illogical competitions imaginable.

        Both Spiro Zavos & Brett Papworth have said, at different times in different mediums, that if you do things only for the money, you are doomed for failure.

        There has to be a higher reason associated with the revenue drive.

        Both ARU & SANZAAR are motivated primarily by money & it will doom them.

        There have always been other ways, & better ways, to conduct the affairs of Australian rugby & southern hemisphere rugby.

        These other ways have been ignored for the short-term money gain.

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 9:10am
          Shop said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          Hi Sheek, I also believe losing Argentina and SA would be a huge loss but I reckon they’d do their best to keep the RC going. I also agree about your point about money but Arg and SA would go north for logistical reasons more than financial.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 10:43am
            Akari said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

            Not if Japan is included in the RC as Pichot is reportedly advocating today as their inclusion is purely for the money. They’ve been going backwards and downwards since RWC 2015.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 9:23am
          Republican said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

          ……..all professional sporting entities are motivated exclusively by money sheek and we the consumer are a symbiosis of this devolution………..

      • July 17th 2017 @ 1:15pm
        TheNutorious said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

        Was it ever credible?

        Dancing for South African coins has cost us a viable league.

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 1:49pm
          biltongbek said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          You have a choice, you don’t need to dance for South African coins.

          • July 17th 2017 @ 2:18pm
            Jacko said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

            Agree Biltongbek. All want the coin so take it then complain where it came from…Cant have it both ways

    • July 17th 2017 @ 6:57am
      Hannes said | July 17th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

      The decision on which team to axe should be made on merits and projections of the team’s performance for the next three seasons. The best predicter of future performance is current performance, the quality of the coaching staff and the culture of the team. If you retain the Force you retain the current playing group, not the team and coaching staff that departed years ago. That is why current performance is of utmost important and past performance irrelevant. Both teams had a horrific injury toll, unbearable pressure from the culling process but only one team manage to come out better on the other side, grow their supporter base and turn the franchise around on and off the field. The cost savings that could materialised evaporated and the true cost of axing a team became clear: you will alienate a whole state. The Rebels have been a huge drain on ARU resources and the ARU asked Cox to step in and turn the franchise around. He failed dismally in 2017. Let’s just keep the Force and give Cox more time to do what he signed up for, but make it clear that the ARU will not underwrite any franchise. If the governments and philanthropists are willing to do so, Australia rugby is better off. It is not an either or, it is an AND decision. The Kings were a team made up of players that were considerred not good enough for Superugby by the other South African franchises and and they again demonstrated that the concentration of talent do not lead to better outcomes. The successful Brumbies team of the early 2000 was created by players considered not good enough. In elite rugby the margins between win and loose are small, even on their day a team like the Sunwolves can beat the Blues. New Zealand is going through a very good patch at thr moment. The Lions took years to top the competition and so will the Australian teams, just give them time with the right coach and playing group. The Force got it right and is building, do not mess with it. Paying less players more is not working at the Tahs. Do not follow their strategy to mediocracy.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 7:25am
        Train Without A Station said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

        Current performance is a great predictor.

        Like if you looked at the Force and Rebels this time last year you would have seen that these results were likely….

        Oh hang on. You would have seen the opposite, with the Rebels one win less than 6th and the Force propping up the bottom about to appoint a new coach…

        • July 17th 2017 @ 8:44am
          Hannes said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

          If the decision to cut a team was made LAST YEAR, the Force that would be in the firing line. However, the decision is made THIS YEAR, and it is foolish to ignore that the Force turned themselves around – no trivial feat and difficult to repeat: In 2017 the Force proven that they appointed the right coach, recruit well, formed a team successfully, developed the right culture, that junior players can step up from club rugby to cover injuries, that the playing group connected to the community and that the community stepped up to what it takes to back their team (from ordinary members like me that bought into the Own the Force campaign to the government that backed a sponsorship to philanthropist like Twiggy). It has all the fundamentals of a success story, the Force are already the second best side in Australia in its first year…and have momentum to become one of the best teams in the next three years. If you read the papers and blogs in South Africa and New Zealand, you will see that those that are impartial are also asking why the ARU will even consider to axe the Force.

          It will be an incredible brave (and incredibly stupid) Board that will axe the Force now and alienate a whole state from rugby for almost no gain. This is however not beyond the incompetence of the current ARU executive.

          As I said above, give Cox a fair chance to turn the Rebels around and for rugby sake I hope he is successful. Make use of those state governments, rugby supporters and philanthropists like Twiggy that are prepared to underwrite rugby in their respective cities. Then the ARU can do their real job and stop messing around (with new executive team) and fund grassroots rugby programs across Australia and not only in Sydney. The ARU incorrectly framed this as an EITHER OR decision and you fell for it, when is could be an AND decision with a little bit of leadership.

          • Roar Pro

            July 17th 2017 @ 10:37am
            Crazy Horse said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

            Well said Hannes.

          • Roar Rookie

            July 17th 2017 @ 10:40am
            piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

            If someone from ARU isn’t on the phone to Forrest this morning they need to seriously reconsider what it is they want to achieve.

            Forrest’s words were that his support of rugby in Australia would be contingent on a national footprint being maintained.

            That doesn’t mean he’s throwing money at the Force (although he did tell the team ‘you will survive’), but may mean that he may be looking at something far grander – perhaps he IS looking at making a major contribution to the game as a whole?

            He could buy the whole bloody shooting box with the change in his jeans.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 10:53am
              Shop said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

              Hi Piru, just wanted to say I thought the end of the Force Tahs game was the highlight of the (albeit depressing) year for Oz rugby this year so far. Clearly a very proud bunch in WA.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 17th 2017 @ 11:00am
                piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

                Mate the atmosphere was unbelievable at the ground.

                The accountants are telling us there were only 10 odd thousand there, but I reckon it was closer to 15 – anyway.

                It was very rowdy, chants of Hodgo, singing, drinking and merry making in the shed all game.

                No one wanted to go home after the siren and more than a few of us tearing up realising this could be the last time we’re all together like this.

                The cheer after Hodgo kicked his goal were deafening

              • Roar Guru

                July 17th 2017 @ 5:06pm
                Timbo (L) said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

                At my end of the fields the chant “Give it to Hodgo” was deafening before Jonno handed the ball over.

                Everyone snuck up into the grandstand making it look fuller than it was.

                It was just you guys in the shed and about a dozen drowned rats in the seats at the general admin end of the field.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 10:53am
              Train Without A Station said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

              Him throwing money at the Force should be enough though.

              But the decision to cut has been made. If SANZAAR won’t go back on it, then it’s too late in many ways.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 17th 2017 @ 10:57am
                piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

                His choice of language and timing seems odd for it just to be that though TWAS.

              • Roar Guru

                July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am
                Train Without A Station said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

                The more he is willing to do the better Piru.

                I’m just very skeptical given the timing.

                Considering that murmurs of the Force being cut dated back to last year, why didn’t he jump in then to say he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure they will be financially secure?

                He’s waited for all the fall out to occur and now come in at the last minute appearing as the white knight.

                But I digress. To me talking about maintaining a national footprint, I read as maintaining the Force.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 17th 2017 @ 11:11am
                piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

                That’s the point I’m trying to make – perhaps it’s something bigger than ‘just’ saving the Force.

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 10:54am
            Train Without A Station said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

            And it’s foolish to not consider that the Rebels could turn themselves around and the Force could easily fall into a heap.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 17th 2017 @ 11:15am
              piru said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

              The Rebels could definitely turn themselves around, they’ve had moments where they’ve looked as good as anyone this year.

              I don’t see The Force falling in a heap though, unlike previous iterations where we’ve relied on one or two stars (Giteau, Pocock, O’Connor etc) the team is now a much more robust unit.

              We lost Coleman, Hodgson and Dayne Haylett Petty for significant periods this year and managed to fight on and collect wins regardless.

              I think Wessels (along with the likes of Hodgson and Coleman) has built a much stronger base and culture at The Force which makes us a lot less susceptible to falling away under adversity.

              • July 17th 2017 @ 2:24pm
                bigbaz said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

                culture, the most important thing of the lot as long as it is of the right variety and not a red or blue one.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 5:10pm
              Timbo (L) said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

              The Rebs were doing well against the Pumagares.
              They finally had their stuff together and were gelling as a team.

              The Combo of Strizaker,Hodge, Inman, Inglish is a good one.

              But it all fell to bits when Mafi and Stirzaker came off.
              There is (was) a lot of potential there.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 8:12am
        Unanimous said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        I presume the purpose of this post is to illustrate the point in the article about destructive arguments being put forward by fans attacking other teams. Well done.

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 9:12am
          Shop said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

          Yep, as if following a script.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 7:06am
      Darwin Stubbie said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Has Forrest actually pledged money ? … from the reports I’ve read he’s addressed the players after the game and said something along the lines of ‘ you will survive and you will win’ that can mean anything …. it’s a curious piece of timing this – the force have been up against it and fighting tooth and nail for months and from memory all FMG has done up this point was renew a shirt sponsorship … if he’s 100% onboard then it’s great for them to have his backing but at present until actual cash starts being spoken of then it has the look of a smokescreen going into the arbitration process

      • July 17th 2017 @ 7:26am
        Train Without A Station said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

        Spot on. Especially the “curious timing part”.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 8:53am
        Hannes said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        Forest has been backing the Future Force program financially and has been a foundation member from when the Force started in 2006. He just did not went public with his support until it was needed. The deadline of the Own the Force IPO has been extended till October this week and it is clear that he was impressed by the team’s performance and character as well as the WA rugby community support that already contributed more than $5 million to buy back their license and IP rights from the ARU.

        I would not be surprised if this backing include those of other prominent WA businessmen such as ex Nedlands player Kerry Stokes and other mining entrepreneurs. It is clearly in the interest of these business people to maintain a rugby presence in Perth as many of their employees are ex-South Africans or Kiwis.

        • Roar Pro

          July 17th 2017 @ 10:39am
          Crazy Horse said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

          Kerry Stokes has been a major sponsor of wa rugby through his “WesTrac” company.

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 11:08am
            Train Without A Station said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

            Major sponsor hey?

            Care to share a link?

            • Roar Pro

              July 17th 2017 @ 6:17pm
              Crazy Horse said | July 17th 2017 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

              WesTrac (WA Caterpillar Dealer) was the major sponsor of UWA Rugby (2011 & 2014 Premier Grade Premiers) and elsewhere in community rugby for many years until the post mining boom recession put the company into survival mode and it stopped sponsoring everything.

              It wasn’t directly involved in Super Rugby but can reasonably be expected to come back into community rugby as the business picks up again.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 9:01am
        The Electronic Swagman said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        I travel outback and country towns throughout Australia. Repeatedly the dramatic cry comes – ‘theres a mine coming’ or ‘the mine is closing’ with the survival of the community hanging on it. Now it comes to Rugby

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 9:14am
          Machooka said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          For mine… good analogy 😉

          • July 17th 2017 @ 10:55am
            Muzzo said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            Mine too Chook!!! Pity the Mine that was my previous employer, in NSW, didn’t think along those lines, of what is happening, in the far west. As the saying goes, they were as tight as a BA!!!! Cheers.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 7:21am
      bigbaz said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      wallowing along side Bernard Tomic, ha ha love it although I think you’re doing a disservice to Tomic

    • Roar Guru

      July 17th 2017 @ 7:24am
      Carlos the Argie said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      Geoff,

      You avoid discussing the terrible situation of Argentine rugby in your post. Indeed, there are many Roarers, including Shop it seems, that would rather not have Argentina’s team(s?) in SR. This is a mistake. As I said from the beginning, Argentina should have had two teams from where you would select the Pumas. One, probably around the Buenos Aires region (URBA?) and another for the Rest of the Country.

      This would have facilitated Pumas development and also travel to Argentina. Two matches to be played instead of one.

      What bothers me tremendously, is the local Roarer expert (guru) that constantly criticizes Argentine rugby politics and financing when he writes in Spanish, in the local blogs, but keeps mum when writing here.

      I am far away to comment on local pecadilloes. My sources, unfortunately, would rather keep quiet for sensitivity concerns, but if you have a Guru on board he should not speak with a forked tongue.

      What is the money distribution issue in the Jaguares/Pumas? Is this how players are selected? Are they preferred players getting money? Is this causing turmoil or discomfort in the team?

      Is ONE team sustainable or are there any development plans? I don’t think ONE team is sustainable or even healthy for SR.

      Will URBA ever fully cooperate with UAR over professional rugby?

      Pichot, or AP9 as he likes to be called, had a long interview in the English press where he communicated his discomfort with the “blazer brigade” by wearing sneakers. Oh, dear, what a radical!

      Enough frustration for one post…. Thanks, Geoff.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 7:51am
        Nobrain said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        Do not waste your time, I will not fall for it.😭😃😃😃😃😭😭😭

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 7:54am
          Nobrain said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

          😘😘😘😘

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 9:30am
          Shop said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          Tranquilo chicos.

          For the record Carlos, I’m not against Argentina being involved in a Super rugby, I’m opposed to how they are involved presently. How much travel are the Jaguares/Pumas going to do this year? Two teams would ease that burden and I’d be all for it. However, you’d then be presented with the problem facing Australia which would be regular beatings due to lack of depth.

          Ideally, a conference with two teams from Arg and one each from Chile, Uruguay and Brazil joined to a couple of South African could be a very workable model but we are talking quite a few years before those countries are up to standard.

      • Columnist

        July 17th 2017 @ 9:22am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        Hi Carlos

        I suspect that having one SR team hurts the Pumas more. It can’t be healthy to have an international side playing together as a club side all year round.

        That said, from what i saw close up, they all seem to get along well and the Jaguares have finished the off year strongly.

        No question that 2 professional teams is a must for Argentina. to mitigate this problem plus to broaden the base of potential test players. This would surely have been part of SANZAAR’s Super Rugby expansion plan, but now with the reversion to 15 teams, it seems that this will be a long way off.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 10:43am
        Shop said | July 17th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Tranquilo chicos.

        Carlos, for the record I’m not against Argentina being involved in Super rugby, I’m against them being involved in the current format. How much travel will the Jaguares/Pumas travel this year? Way too much. Two teams in Arg would be ideal to alleviate travel pressure but then we’d have the same problem that Australia faces where depth is severely tested and you get teams who become perennial losers. On balance I think two Argentine sides should have been introduced from the start.

        The best model I believe would be to have 2 Arg teams in a conference with one each from Uruguay, Chile and Brazil and a couple from SA but these countries aren’t quite ready yet.

        • Roar Guru

          July 17th 2017 @ 11:08am
          Nobrain said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          If we do that then the problem is NZ. They are so far ahead in terms of rugby that I see no point for the trashing all these sides.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 5:26pm
        Timbo (L) said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

        Carlos,
        I have traveled a bit in europe and whenever I ran into Saffa’s, Kiwi’s, Argies or Brazilans there was an automatic kinship from living in the southern hemisphere.

        I personally think it is great seeing the los Pumagares in SR, I will put aside the fact that it strengthens your national team making them harder to beat come RC time 😉
        Same goes for our NihonJin Sunwolves friends

        I would like to see Tonga, Fiji and Samoa join in too, they have too many of their players poached.

        But there has to be some sanity applied as well.
        The Travel and the timezone mismatch is a killer for players and the audience alike.
        There has to be paying viewers as well to further muddy the waters.
        They have to be watchable games.

        NRC, NPC, Currie Cup, SR, RC there needs to be a balance, a market and a profit.

        The Egos running the shows (except for NZ) need to come down out of their ivory towers and come up with some common sense solutions.
        If the Jags play the first half of the season in Africa and the Pacific play each other and then have a winner takes all hit out at the end, so be it. There has to be an answer out there. Right now Foxtel are massaging the game to squeeze the last drop of money out of the game.. Now… And not looking to a sustainable future.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 9:40pm
        Davide77 said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

        What bothers me tremendously Carlos, is that being a fellow Argie you should be having this discussion instead of attacking the Roarer expert, as you call him.

        What is the money distribution issue in the Jaguares/Pumas? Is this how players are selected? Are they preferred players getting money? Is this causing turmoil or discomfort in the team?

        Is ONE team sustainable or are there any development plans? I don’t think ONE team is sustainable or even healthy for SR.

        all this questiones, the answers and more is what we wonder as well.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 17th 2017 @ 9:55pm
        Colonel_Fabien said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

        G’day Carlos, I’m an Argie too, based in France. I also write in LNOL, with the same pseudonym.

        You wrote [quote]: “What bothers me tremendously, is the local Roarer expert (guru) that constantly criticizes Argentine rugby politics and financing when he writes in Spanish, in the local blogs, but keeps mum when writing here.” [End of quote].

        To start off, me too I am one of the few ones who regularly criticize the UAR & co. in LNOL. To make myself clear: like others who criticize the UAR, I’m not against the UAR per se, but against its blind politics towards development of rugby in general. It comes from a position of love, passion, and respect for rugby. I truly believe that’s Nobes and others’ position likewise. We genuinely want to help the UAR to nurture a much better rugby development in Argentina, and for that to truly happen, one of the many current hurdles to be jumped over is providing total transparency about the money deals & distribution among the UAR, the different local Rugby Unions, and the players themselves. The current opacity speaks volumes about the not at all so innocent after all “amateur” (ha-ha!) spirit at the UAR. “Please, hide that money I would not rather see; close my fist tight and make sure no coin falls out while I keep on pontificating about “amateur” values.” We at the LNOL are fiercely against poor-performance players whom however always make it to the final list as starters because, we argue, they have privileged commercial ties with their respective private sponsors, so much so that, we argue, it’s really the private sponsors who actually routinely tell the Head Coach which players plays first and foremost, regardless of any poor (and, sometimes, indeed pitiful) past performances. We’ve labelled them “the QBE frats”.

        Nobes did write an article about the general state of rugby in Argentina and the shortcomings of the UAR (stemming from a shortsighted vision, partly due to internal politics, e.g., the permanent troubles between the URBA and some, if not all, the rest of the (provincial) Rugby Unions in Argentina, quite blatant regarding the schedules of their respective championships, the general Argentinian championship, and the Pumas/Jaguares broadcasting schedules). In that article, he did mention the points you yourself mentioned in your post about the financing, etc.

        For your benefit, the article’s title is “Is rugby in Argentina following the right path?” and was posted on June 5, 2017, barely a month and a half ago. Link: http://www.theroar.com.au/2017/06/05/rugby-argentina-following-right-path/

        Now, you Carlos the Argie need to factor in that, however vocal Nobes can be here in The Roar, he, like other well-meaning Argies, can’t be too much vocal in his critiques because, mind you, like in other internet-accessible media, here at The Roar are some blokes who actually work within and for the Sanzaar, and it would be a very bad idea to give those blokes too strong an argument leading them to strengthen their positions about possibly cutting off the Argie team when 2020 will come (and the end of the current 5-year contract between the Sanzaar and the UAR). He must tread carefully a very fine line between a well-meaning, and much needed, healthful critique, and what can be taken as a destructive opposition to whatever the UAR may think or do.

        So, in my view, Nobes was very clear and honest in his article, the details of which can be read in his Spanish comments in the LNOL rugby section. Some hints to his views are also available in English here at The Roar, when he comments of the Jaguares’ performances (or rather, lack of). How could that be a “forked tongue” for you? And by the way, speaking of a “forked tongue”, why didn’t you state his name (Nobes) for real, instead of merely making an allusion? C’mon, there can’t be anything bad about it. come to think of it, most of blokes here at The Roar (including the ladies) are fully grown-up adults, used to exchange banter in a joyful Aussie way. Some of them even have grandchildren.

        Also, you need to take in consideration that the audience of The Roar being 90% Aussie, they have very little to no interest at all in the internal disputes in the UAR and the poor state of rugby in Argentina. They have been very worried about the state of Union Rugby in Australia in the last years and don’t have with Argentina such a close vicinity as with New Zealand so as to have an interest in what their neighbours may be doing and how it would eventually impact themselves. It’s a welcome distracting window in some other country’s rugby problems, but nothing that may affect Aussie rugby (fortunately for them!). But no need at all for them for us to spell in the littlest details whatever may be wrong with the state of rugby in Argentina, they just need the outlines; and the rest, well, they know perfectly well where those outlines may lead to, because they’ve suffered the same things in the past, or their Kiwis & Saffas rugby cousins. What the Aussies do care about Argentinian rugby is (A) our ability to offer them a decent opposition, which may justify their paying their match tickets or they pay-per-view matches (something I am rather very sceptical about, given the Jags poor performances) and (B) the TV schedules for matches played actually in Argentina. If there’s eventually a (C), I’m all ears about it.

        Voilà, that’s my point. Please understand I’m not here to pull you by the ears, but to help you make you realize (when you will read his article about the path being followed by the Argentinian rugby; which I presume you either haven’t so far or had forgotten about; otherwise I can’t explain myself why your remarks) that you’ve wrongly accused Nobes of something he did write about, very consistent with his own position in LNOL.

        [Oops, I’ve just seen a comment from you, Carlos the Argie, on Nobes’ article, dated June 6, 2017 at 4:46 am. You’re basically agreeing with Nobes, there in your comment. Will you please explain to me why exactly you accuse Nobes of being a “forked tongue”? And about any other major disagreement? Muchas gracias de antemano].

        • Roar Guru

          July 18th 2017 @ 2:18am
          Carlos the Argie said | July 18th 2017 @ 2:18am | ! Report

          ????

          I don’t see your point.

          The accurate avatar guru claims that he is forbidden to speak with players as the players would be dropped from the team if they do so.

          That guru had been defending the arrangement for years and only recently wrote an article with criticism to the structure. This appears to me as convenient.

          In addition, I recall how during the WC, for example, he kept defending a player like Lavanini and accusing the other countries fans of being cry babies, all in Spanish, as here in the Roar he kept quiet. It was easy to find how in LN he wrote one thing and a different thing here.

          By the way, your paranoia that SANZAAR would drop teams based on what some “pundits” can publish on modern media seems ridiculous to me. That sense of self-importance borders on narcissism. Get real, your opinion doesn’t move mountains. Your opinion is irrelevant to people in SANZAAR, UAR, URBA or whatever. Your opinion may be interesting, funny, witty, droll, or many other adjectives depending on who reads them, but determining teams structures, they do not accomplish this.

          I have lived outside of Argentina for a very long time. Curiously, I still pay dues to my club in Buenos Aires. And when I go visit, I mange to play for 40 minutes in their “pre-intermedia-B”. Despite my age, which the guru claims is too old, I still go in the field and not embarrass myself. I have to prove my fitness and my skill before being let in, plus the compliance with URBA.

          Do I know all the ins and outs? Clearly not, unfortunately, I only find out things tangentially. This is why I don’t write specifically about politics in ARG rugby but describe the situation as an outsider.

          • July 18th 2017 @ 6:22pm
            Davide77 said | July 18th 2017 @ 6:22pm | ! Report

            you sound very angry and personal mate, have a Victoria Bitter and chill, we all want what’s best for our rugby and of course we will try and make our voices heard when we don;t agree, that is who we are

            • Roar Guru

              July 19th 2017 @ 1:44am
              Carlos the Argie said | July 19th 2017 @ 1:44am | ! Report

              Not angry, frustrated, passionate, interested, devoted.

              Maybe my word choice isn’t the best. I also try to be consistent and direct.

      • July 18th 2017 @ 4:41am
        Tutema said | July 18th 2017 @ 4:41am | ! Report

        Carlos,

        I also post sometimes at LNOL. I am also critic of several things the UAR and URBA do.

        I think that there isn’t much to add to what Orion, Davide and Colonel have already said, except the fact that, as I understand it, to the avergae australian rugby fan, it is better to have 5 australian teams in the competition insteed of 4 while there are a team from Japan and 1 from Argentina with killer time zones, flight travel hours and that do not bennefit the competition it self.

        That is why we are all critics of the Pumaguares performance in LNOL (and why Nobes wrote the piece he did here at the roar).

        We wanted the 2 victories in Australia because THAT is the only thing the Jaguares can do to justify their place in this competition.

        Comments like the ones from Houcade “disrespecting” the importance of the competition (what can you expect from a guy who trashes english rugby under Jones) is the kind of things that may cost the Pumaguares thier place in this competition.

        A second argentine Franchise would be great for the development of the Pumas? OF COURSE!!!!!!

        Does it seem posibile at this point? Naaaaaaaaaaaaah

        I think that Argentina and the Jaguares are NOT the main problem Australia rugby is currently facing. However, it is very easy to make that case if the Jaguares are not performing as they should.

        How can we make it happen? What’s AP9’s rol in all of this? etc?

        We may discuss this in our local media.

        Our rugby is not sooooo relevant for the Australian fans.

        • Roar Guru

          July 18th 2017 @ 6:03am
          Carlos the Argie said | July 18th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

          Tutema,

          Argentine rugby IS important to the Aussie fans as long as it provides interesting competition and good entertainment. In addition, if Argentine rugby provides seats filled at stadiums or people watching on TV, then SANZAAR and, Aussies of course, wins too.

          I have posted from the beginning that the current structure of Jaguares/Pumas was untenable. That the level of play has been significantly deteriorating, instead of improving. I have also posted that maybe it is in Argentine’s psychology that they will over perform in short tournaments like the WC but not perform to expectations in longer ones like SR.

          In addition, I also wrote about the improvisation of the Jaguares intro to SR. I even mentioned the stadium issue at CASI, for example. I wrote about the politics between URBA and the UAR too.

          At the time, all other posters form Argentina was gushing in praise. It was clear to me that the implemented structure was not conducive to success and that classic to Argentina, there was huge improvisation.

          Now, many criticize what was obvious from the start.

          You can read the interview to Creevy of some time ago where you will see how soft ball were the questions to him.

      • Roar Guru

        July 18th 2017 @ 10:46pm
        Harry Jones said | July 18th 2017 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

        We need an Argentine Rugby forum article moderated by Brett McKay to explore these issues.
        I don’t think any non-Argie understands all the nuances, but I must say, this debate has been very engrossing and I think SANZAAR fans want to read more of it, agreeing to disagree civilly, etc.

        • Roar Rookie

          July 19th 2017 @ 12:04am
          Colonel_Fabien said | July 19th 2017 @ 12:04am | ! Report

          G’day Harry Jones, here’s a website (in English) that provides much food for thought:

          http://www.americasrugbynews.com/

          As you’ll have noticed, we South Americans (especially the Italian-Spanish kind, i.e. we the Argies) are very vocal. Most of us rugby fans are quite civilised, but now and then someone like Carlos may lose his marbles. Let’s hope it’s just temporary, sure his parents taught him good manners.

          As for your interest in nuances, here are a few basic facts:

          1) Within the UAR, the URBA (Buenos Aires Rugby Union) is the most troublesome, rarely siding along with the others. (I’m from BsAs myself, but my loyalty goes to my country, not my city or province); the URBA being the Union with most players, clubs, and fan base its influence over the rest is “yuge”,

          2) There’s a great deal of opacity within the UAR concerning the money management. Given the chronic, blatant corruption in Argentinian everyday life, most of rugby fans have very strong suspicions that many poor-performance Pumas/Jaguares players are routinely listed as starters b/c of their commercial ties to their respective private commercial sponsors. We want the UAR to come out perfectly clear about all that,

          3) There’s a very strong opposition within the UAR, the many different provincial Unions, and the clubs themselves, to implement a Professional Rugby Championship in Argentina. Part it stems from a proud tradition in continuing the amateur spirit when the British brought the game to our lands 150 years ago; but in today’s world, that anachronism is highly detrimental to the quality of the game the Pumas/Jaguares have been bringing on lately; hence the logical need to implement a professional championship,

          4) Due to intricate networks of corruption and clientelism, we rugby fans are seeing HCs not up to the par heading the Pumas/Jaguares. In a professional world, repeated poor play performances and poor results would bring an immediate termination of those HCs’ contracts. Some among us insist in that to happen. Raúl Pérez’s contract with the Jaguares was mercifully just brought to an end; we need Daniel Hourcade (the Pumas HC) to go as well, and bring in some Anglo HC (SA, NZ, AUS) with an Anglo approach and a deep knowledge of SR. Until a few weeks ago, both HCs (Pumas and Jaguares) were repeating: “we don’t care at all about the results, we are in SR to learn”, wtf?,

          5) The current structure and development of rugby in Argentina, although seeing a very increased interest in the game since 2007’s brilliant results (with more kids joining clubs, and more people attending matches if played outside BsAs) calls for an extraordinary generosity of everyone involved (amateurs clubs, their respective provincial Unions, and the UAR) to bring about the professional era (totally compatible with keeping the amateur clubs though). In turn, this means also either sending away part of our players and coaches to attend trainings in the SH, or bringing in to Argentina SH coaches and players to help us develop our rugby, so that in both cases Argentinian rugby can increase the quality of the opposition we can offer the SH teams and make us worth of staying in the SR,

          6) Along with the above, we need to do whatever necessary to increase the rugby level of the American zone, so that eventually there will be an Inter-American conference in SR with 5-6 teams which, in turn, may justify the rest of the SH teams to sending their A teams (and not their B teams as so far) to our time zone. This needs time (which is short) and money (which is very short too, except for the USA and CAN, the level of which so far does not make them quite fit into SR yet, hopefully that may change in 4-5 years’ time).

          You guys in Oz seem much better off than us regarding the state of rugby =). Let’s see how we square against each other on Sept. 16 and 30! (RCH).

          • Roar Guru

            July 19th 2017 @ 3:23am
            Carlos the Argie said | July 19th 2017 @ 3:23am | ! Report

            If you only read what I have posted over the years, you would have found out most of these issues discussed there.

            As my dear friend, professor of neurology from London, says: If you ignore the literature you think you are discovering new things,

            • Roar Rookie

              July 19th 2017 @ 5:49am
              Colonel_Fabien said | July 19th 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

              Hey dear Rugby Guru Carlos the Argie, I was merely summing it all up for Harry Jones.

              It’s very childish (and tiresome) of you to continuously brag about your “I said it first!”.

              What’s the use of it? You announcing the Gospel? We owe you anything? Some copyrights, maybe? Please let me know to which PayPal account I can deposit my 2c for them, if that makes you happy.

              Can’t you see how puerile your attitude of constant need for attention is? What do you or we know if someone ever said those very same things before you did? Do you seriously think you were the very first one ever to say those things? Could you please back that up with some actual data? I doubt you could. Do you seriously think that just b/c you claim that you were the first one to have written something then it necessarily follows that nobody else gets to say anything along the same lines, you shut us all up once and forever b/c your word is final? B/c that’s what you’re implying in your bragging comments.

              Your contributions are very good, but seriously, you ruin them every single time you brag about them. You should be rejoiced that more and more people agree with “your” (c) general views. Instead, you’re coming across as bitter & quarrelsome that nobody gives a damn about who said what in the first place. So, you wrote your opinions faster than the next guy. And so what? You know, not necessarily every sperm who swims faster than the rest and gets to fecundate the egg makes anybody smarter than the others. Living abroad should have taught you some humility, but apparently that lesson went missing. Please grow up and give us a break from your bragging rights. They discredit your informed opinions; and that’s curious, b/c at the same time you’re looking for credit, aren’t you?

            • Roar Guru

              July 19th 2017 @ 8:04am
              Carlos the Argie said | July 19th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

              Harry is aware of these issues as he has been part of the forum for a very long time.

              I am only asking people to be consistent in what they post or to be clear that they are changing their minds and why.

              I actually admire people that freely admit that they can change their minds.

              I also don’t like people who post opposing views in different forums because it is convenient to them.

              And if you don’t like what I post, don’t read it or don’t comment on it. It is very simple.

              Clearly, I don’t write about technical aspects, in general, as there are other people here that explain this better. I don’t call myself a guru, I find the name given by the Roar as pretentious, but these are their rules.

              Most of my interest in rugby nowadays is in the leadership issues in teams. How they operate, how they are managed, how they become good at what they do. In general, this is what I write about. I have been to many AB tours lately and interviewed their players over the years, as well as a few of the coaches. This is what I find exciting.

              There are other aspect that make me very passionate, which is the level of incompetence or “moral” corruption within systems. And you know well that Argentina is a big issue this way. For example, the nastiness of URBA dealings with UAR, and vice versa, is something that concerns me significantly.

              Did you know that (I think) two years ago when CUBA was playing in the National Championship they requested that all advertisements be withdrawn from the playing field (for the TV) because they were an amateur club? The hypocrites! Things like this make me very mad…

              By the way, Roar allows you to look at posting histories, if interested.

            • Roar Guru

              July 19th 2017 @ 8:21am
              Carlos the Argie said | July 19th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

              And “Colonel” (surprised you picked a military rank given Argentina’s sad history)

              If you live in France, maybe in Paris itself, don’t miss going to have some Argie food at Restaurant El Sur on Boulevard St Germain, in the Latin Quarter.

              It is partly owned by a former high school classmate of mine and rugby fanatic from Buenos Aires.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 19th 2017 @ 8:43pm
                Colonel_Fabien said | July 19th 2017 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

                Hey Rugby Guru Carlos the Argie,

                And “Colonel” (surprised you picked a military rank given Argentina’s sad history)” —-> You just read too much into things, Carlos. It’s just a famous metro station (“Colonel Fabien”), where the national HQ of the French Communist Parties are located. It just happens to be close to my neighborhood, and I simply picked that name as a pseudonym several years ago. It could have been any other name, but this one looked best suited, and less pretentious than picking Victor Hugo (another metro station), or Charles de Gaulle (same), or any other metro station name. Suppose someone would wonder if Carlos the Argie has any connections to Carlos the Jackal, the famous terrorist of the 70’s and 80’s, just b/c “Carlos” + Southamerican? That’d be very silly of him, wouldn’t it?

                I’ve known well that restaurant for years. In its first years, I used to chat with the original Chilean owner. Today, there’s no Argentinian working there, they’re from other Latin American countries or from France. Sometimes they’ve made me think the meat I was served was not Argentinean. Unfortunately, the restaurant’s quality has gone down since a long time. Much better to go to Unico, or La Locandiera, or one of the Clásicos.

                Please be coherent and consistent with yourself.

                1) If you “actually admire” people’s (like Nobes) change of mind/heart, then don’t criticize nor accuse them/him for doing so. You discredit yourself by asking from others the consistency and coherency you gladly make do without.
                2) Same with your “I don’t call myself a guru” —> Well, how come as intelligent as you are you still fail to see that the same applies with Nobes? He never called himself a guru, but you’ve been consistently insisting in calling him so, just b/c his avatar, exactly like yours, says he’s reached the guru status. You discredit yourself by being so puerile.
                3) Similarly, if you don’t like what he writes, please don’t read it, it’s very simple too.
                4) You’re not just “only asking people to be consistent”, you’re actually trying to extort some kind of recognition from them. You discredit yourself by being so puerile.
                5) I suppose you must be very butthurt that Nobes didn’t write something like “my sudden and unexpected change of mind on this particular issue comes from the myriad of magnificently eye-opening posts from our beloved & respected Rugby Guru Carlos the Argie, who first and foremost wrote all of this 10 years ago and has very patiently been teaching us all everything about rugby. Due credit to him where credit is due! If only 1% of the UAR people could be as smart as he is, our Pumas would have been systematically trashing the ABs for +70 since 10 years ago at least“. —> Well, consider it written now, and let’s close the subject once and forever.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 8:16am
      Fionn said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      SR has always been a fusion of a domestic comp and a Heineken Cup style tournament, which means the home final system makes sense on that level.

      At the end of the day, however, the conference system is what it is, and I think it has to be this way to keep the Australians, Saffas and Argentines happy and competitive. I guess you could say the Brumbies should be playing the Canes in Wellington rather than Canberra (topping conference = finals wild card but seedings are determined by overall standing), but the finals system is hardly the biggest issue in the current format, and having seedings allocated by ladder standing disadvantages the Australians and benefits the Saffas because they play against fewer Kiwis and benefits the Kiwis as they play lots of Aussies.

      The Brumbies have been poor and I suspect they will be thrashed, but the system is what it is.

      The team I feel most sorry for is the Lions, who have to play in the finals without being hardened against Kiwis.

      • Columnist

        July 17th 2017 @ 8:32am
        Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        Hi Fionn

        When the new structure was announced I was ok with it, conferences didn’t worry me, even if there were likely to be some imbalances, and I was also comfortable with the engineering to provide a home final in each of the main markets.

        At the end of the day the best team is still likely to win – that’s what happened last year and hopefully will this year too.

        But the reaction of fans/viewers has been brutal. The tribe has spoken, people can’t stomach the ‘unfairness’ and so it must be changed. Whether the fans who have tuned out can be won back is another question.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 8:40am
          Fionn said | July 17th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

          I have limited sympathy for those Kiwis who seem to want to have their cake and eat it too.

          They want to be far and away the best, and the other countries to simply settle with being constantly losing and for the Kiwi teams to take all of the top spots.

          In my opinion, is could never happen. SA and the Argies (and perhaps even Aus) would decide to make an orderly exit from SR. Tew might publicly complain, but at the end of the day I think he’s smart enough to know the current (or similar) concessions to Aus/SA are necessary in this time of Kiwi dominance.

          Anyway, cheers for all of your contributions, Geoff. Great, as usual, and I look forward to your column every week 😊

          • Columnist

            July 17th 2017 @ 9:25am
            Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

            Cheers Fionn.

            Nothing wrong with wanting to be the best mate, in fact I’d say that’s a pre-requisite for being the best, and something Australian rugby must take on board if it wants to turn the current situation around.

            But yes, there is an element that NZ rugby risks being the ‘king of nothing’. Something I’m sure that the NZRU is acutely aware of.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 12:09pm
              John R said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              Surely they’re aware of it aye.

              Sumo made a comment during the Brumbies/Chiefs game around the 0-25 record and said something along the lines of ‘this is no schadenfreude, here is hoping that the Australian teams can bounce back next year, not just for their own benefit, but for the viability of this competition’.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 9:45am
          AndyS said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Amazes me that no-one seems to see just how much further than SR the whole “fairness” issue extends. People fundamentally want to see a fair contest, and it is indeed the underlying problem with this version of SR (and will still be an issue with the “new” version next year). But it is also what underlies so much of the disaffection with rugby in this country. Never mind SR, what about how the individual teams in Aus are treated, or the states, how about how the scholboys team is selected, perhaps even the Wallabies…perceived inequities are spread throughout the structure to maintain a status quo long outdated.

          The old saying is that the game might be crooked, but it was the only one in town. Unfortunately, Union isn’t the only game in town, or even the biggest. To mix metaphors, it is in fact possible to build on sand if that is the nature of the terrain. But it has to be level.

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 5:10pm
            sheek said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

            AndyS – well said.

        • Roar Pro

          July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am
          Crazy Horse said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          My team (and all other Australian teams) played all five New Zealand Teams and lost. Sure by small margins in all but one of them but no points from any of those games. Mean while a South African team that has played none of the dominant Kiwi teams makes the finals. How is that fair?

          • Columnist

            July 17th 2017 @ 11:48am
            Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

            It isn’t CH. That’s why it’s being changed.

            SANZAAR underestimated how important it is for fans to believe that the competition is fair and sensible. The proof is in Australia, where the majority view is that the Brumbies shouldn’t be in the finals.

            SANZAAR thought the opposite would apply, that fans would think it fairer that there was a guaranteed finalist from each of SA, Aust and NZ.

            • July 17th 2017 @ 12:16pm
              AndyS said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

              But as reported, it is only reverting to 2015. Still conferences, still playing everyone in your own country twice, still not playing everyone from other countries (although at least playing some from each) and still top from each country guaranteed home ground advantage. Only real difference is that eight out of fifteen will qualify for finals, instead of six.

              • Columnist

                July 17th 2017 @ 1:21pm
                Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                I’d say those differences are important Andy.

                8 from 15 gives everyone more than enough opportunity, and at least some matches against all countries for all teams versus none for some teams is much more palatable for most fans.

            • Roar Guru

              July 17th 2017 @ 5:12pm
              sheek said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

              Geoff,

              Frankly, I seriously doubt SANZAAR “thinked” anything.

              They were blinded by the TV broadcasting $$$$$$$$$$ flashing across their eyes.

              • Columnist

                July 17th 2017 @ 5:39pm
                Geoff Parkes said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

                Absolutely Sheek, this was a requirement of the broadcasting rights holder, to keep viewer numbers up for longer in each of the main markets.

          • Roar Guru

            July 17th 2017 @ 5:33pm
            Timbo (L) said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

            Geoff, Crazy,

            I don’t think you are looking at this cynically enough.

            The home quarter final is the last chance to squeeze the last drop of viewer loyalty.

            As a Force Fan I will still be tuning in somewhere to watch the Canes blow away the Brumbies.

            I am sure the Actuaries at SANZAAR would have been hoping for a full stadium in Brisvegas or SinSydney, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 1:17pm
        TheNutorious said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

        “SR has always been a fusion of a domestic comp and a Heineken Cup style tournament”

        Which is why it does not work. It should be a Heineken Cup style tournament that runs alongside normal domestic comps

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