The future of Australian rugby is the NRC

ThugbyFan Roar Guru

By ThugbyFan, ThugbyFan is a Roar Guru

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    The NSW Supreme Court has pretty much added the final nail the coffin of the Western Force in Super Rugby. The decision has been made and even though the ARU have been shown to be shifty in their dealings with the WARU, the courts have sided with the former.

    Now is the time for all concerned to bury the hatchet, not into each other’s back, and try to find a way to move forward. The ARU needs to swallow some pride and look at a way of making this into a positive.

    After all, Twiggy Forrest is suddenly a Force fan offering huge dollars and it’s ridiculous of the ARU to snub its nose at this loot. Talk about ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’.

    Despite the bluster and talk there is absolutely no way that anyone, not even Twiggy Forrest, can start off a successful rebel rugby competition throughout the Pacific Islands and Asia. The player quality and financial returns are just not there and the ARU would simply ban anyone who joined this competition.

    I just cannot see Forrest sinking his hard-earned into such a venture. Forget Super Rugby also, it’s dying and beyond resuscitation and may not survive 2020. So rather than stir the pot with a rebel competition or sink money into a competition that Australian fans (and many players) just cannot relate to, why not get into the current system and aim at enhancing the NRC into a top-grade rugby competition?

    Get Twiggy to agree to fund the NRC and make additions, as it’s very probable the NRC will be the premier rugby competition in Australia within a few years. Of course more needs to be added and a lot of negotiation and agreements need to be struck. Bring in a second Western Australia-South Australia amalgamated team (to keep Twiggy happy) or even another Pacific Islander team and make it a 10-team NRC.

    But the big prize is free-to-air television, and it would pay to take a look at the history of the Big Bash League. Similar to rugby, Fox Sports covered the first two BBL competitions (2011-2012) so free-to-air viewers could take a running jump. Then in 2012, Channel 10 showed a couple of the finals matches, saw the potential and bought the rights in 2013.

    Since then the BBL competition has skyrocketed. Is there any reason to deny that a smaller but similar result could occur if a free-to-air station takes up the NRC? The obvious choice to offer the rights to is the new Channel 10-NBC organisation (though any other free-to-air station will do if they knock it back) to take the whole competition to free-to-air throughout Australia.

    Offer some concessions for the first two years and they would likely grab it with both hands. As Rupert Murdoch and Sky UK can attest, sport is what pulls viewers in. And sport is relatively cheap compared to the cost of most other TV shows.

    Make sure they show the matches live, even if it has to be on alternate channels such as One or Eleven. It still offers almost 10 hours of match and review time for a popular sport, plus late night fill-ins with replays.

    There should be more shows with highlights and reviews of upcoming matches could also be added as program fillers. Follow the NRL-AFL model, neither of these sports would have their huge followings without the constant promotion and viewers on free-to-air.

    Remember also that both of the AFL and NRL seasons are winding down so all the free-to-air stations don’t have all that much footy to show. The NRC runs between mid-August and October and it would make sense to offer a good rugby competition for those free-to-air sports-starved viewers.

    If the concept takes off, Twiggy will likely get his money back fairly quickly plus the love and affection of all the Western Australia folks and we rugby nutters from all over Oz. The better promotion will see match attendances increase and rugby would get far more fans able to see matches.

    This flows down to more kids wanting to play the game. A national footprint on free-to-air will also bring in some much-needed sponsorship money. The major problem of course is getting the various rugby unions into one room to agree on everyone moving together.

    Dare I suggest the movers of the plan bring an old-fashioned mace into any meetings with the NSWRU, Queensland Rugby Union or any representatives from the Sydney or Brisbane clubs. Their idea of what constitutes an NRC team is too self-centred. I know I’ll be shot down but honestly, the best way forward is for the ARU or state unions to initially control the team set-ups until the concept takes hold.

    It’s a win-win for everyone without further costly litigation, which can only end in tears for everyone (unless you are a lawyer). It will need someone to initially offer a good deal to a free-to-air TV station to get a two to three-year contract. The other obstacle is the ARU and various state/Pacific Island unions really need to talk tough to Foxtel to either release NRC games to free-to-air or lose the contract on the next renewal.

    At present, rugby is in dire straits (not the 1980s band) and something radical needs to be done. The ARU is cash-strapped and only today an article appeared on their website titled “ARU ‘insolvent in two years’ with five teams”. They simply cannot afford any more disasters such as Super Rugby expansion to Mongolia, Nicaragua or Finland with promises by the IRB or World Rugby of boatloads of riches.

    The solution I have offered is not the panacea for all Australian rugby’s problems, but it does offer a way forward, regardless of whether Super Rugby survives or not.

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    The Crowd Says (106)

    • September 6th 2017 @ 5:15am
      Chooks said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:15am | ! Report

      Interesting ideas. I think it’s a good idea to turn our attention to a mainly domestic series. Maybe Super Rugby could be the finals part of the best domestic teams from NZ, SA and OZ.
      Free to air TV is a huge problem for Rugby in this country. There is nowhere near enough exposure to the non-rugby public.
      I want written confirmation from Clyne and the ARU that Perth won’t be dropped from the NRC after this season also.

      I think the Indo-Pacific comp idea will die out after a couple of years if implemented. This is a real chance to finally fix the gaping hole in domestic rugby in this country.

      • September 6th 2017 @ 6:44am
        kkovak said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:44am | ! Report

        The NRC s due to be dropped from Perth – Clyne or the board is not to be trusted ,

        • Columnist

          September 6th 2017 @ 7:03am
          Geoff Parkes said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:03am | ! Report

          Be as angry as you like towards the ARU but the peddling of b/s does no-one’s cause any good.

          This is from the ARU’s statement released last night. I doubt it will make aggrieved WA people feel any better; at this stage it’s words, but it’s on the public record and I expect it will be followed through with.

          ARU’s ongoing commitment to Rugby in Western Australia

          ARU is committed to providing a clear pathway for aspiring young Rugby players to reach the highest levels of the sport and represent Australia’s men’s and women’s representative teams.
          This includes a commitment to continue its support for Perth Spirit remaining in the NRC competition.
          Western Australian representative teams will also continue to compete in the following tournaments and National Championships:
          • National Women’s XVs Championships
          • National Men’s Sevens Championships
          • National Women’s Sevens Championships
          • National Youth Men’s (U17) Sevens Championships
          • National Youth Women’s (U17) Sevens Championships
          • Australian U19 Championships (replacing the Super U20s competition)
          • Australian Schoolboys (U18) Championships
          • Australian U16 Championships
          • U15 Junior Gold Cup

          ARU has also committed to work with RugbyWA on initiatives including potential new competitions, community Rugby opportunities and pathways to the elite levels of the game in Western Australia.

          • September 6th 2017 @ 8:18am
            ForceFan said | September 6th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

            This all looks fine except without a professional rugby team in Perth ALL of these activities just become pathways into East Coast rugby – just as WA had before Super Rugby.

            1 locally developed Wallaby in all of WA’s long rugby history prior to Super Rugby says it all.

          • September 6th 2017 @ 9:45am
            AndyS said | September 6th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            Geoff, I imagine the problem is that the ARU has said lots of things that have since proven to be a pile of proverbial, so their statements have no credibility. As recent as March they were saying no decision had been made to cut a team, and it may have even been technically correct at the time, and yet….

            I’d say they should show them rather than tell them, but again what could they do; sign an Alliance Agreement? The Spirit would have fallen under the previous agreement though, so perhaps a good start would be to return their IP? Reality is though, the ARU seems to have made no concrete provisions for WA in all the time they’ve had. Just words, which are worthless.

            • Roar Guru

              September 6th 2017 @ 9:50am
              Train Without A Station said | September 6th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

              and it may have even been technically correct at the time, and yet….

              So it may have been correct at the time.

              Thanks.

              • September 6th 2017 @ 10:41am
                AndyS said | September 6th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

                Yes – they had decided, but no decision had been formally announced. If anyone asserted they had, they couldn’t point to any documented “proof” when it was demanded by apologists, despite subsequent events clearly demonstrating that they certainly had decided and were already well through negotiations with the broadcasters on the basis of four Australian teams. So technically a true statement, but no less misleading for all that.

              • September 7th 2017 @ 6:39pm
                In brief said | September 7th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

                the same logic is applied by holocaust deniers (which obviously you are not, so no moral equivalency) however, that decision was also made in secret with no documentation. Still happened though.

              • September 7th 2017 @ 11:52pm
                Train Without A Station said | September 7th 2017 @ 11:52pm | ! Report

                Yeah except there is evidence of that occuring.

                People here are assuming something based on no evidence to actually support the scenario.

            • September 6th 2017 @ 3:38pm
              Ex force fan said | September 6th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

              Can the ARU be trusted? Not on their track record!

          • Roar Guru

            September 6th 2017 @ 12:31pm
            ThugbyFan said | September 6th 2017 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

            Thanks for that information, Geoff. I didn’t see that press release but I guess its the ARU’s first olive branch to the WA rugby community.

            All the bickering and threats is not helping anyone. It hurts like hell as although I am a rusted-on Tahs fan, I loved the vibrant attitude of the Force folks. Sadly a team had to go, I suggest people take a read of the ARU article on their website (though gawds knows who put up the numbers) http://www.rugby.com.au/news/2017/09/05/09/10/aru-supporting-documentation

            • Columnist

              September 6th 2017 @ 1:53pm
              Geoff Parkes said | September 6th 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

              I like the attitude too TF. I’d be filthy if it was my team or I was a hard-working volunteer in WA rugby.

              But people making statements of ‘fact’ that aren’t actually true don’t help the situation.

            • September 6th 2017 @ 11:31pm
              andrewM said | September 6th 2017 @ 11:31pm | ! Report

              There is one fundamental flaw in your second statement ThugbyFan- it implies that RugbyWA or the Force have contributed to the sham that has occurred. The onus is entirely on the EARU. They need to demonstrate its commitment to rugby across the entire breadth of the nation by allowing Twiggy and RugbyWA to explore alternative options without restraint. And by selling back the Western Force’s intellectual property to RugbyWA for a dollar.

              Their BS statement is nothing – they would not be able to stop a WA representative team from participating in any national competition regardless. Take all that out and what is left? A single pathway to Professional rugby which RugbyWA will not see the spoils of.

          • September 6th 2017 @ 3:11pm
            Perthstayer said | September 6th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

            Geoff, I agree 100%. I am sick of all this BS.

            These conversations being started on how to improve rugby across the nation are fantastic.

            The knee jerk naysayers are cutting off their nose to spite their face now. Our beloved WF have gone, we have to move on.

            Indo Pacific set up? Current standard is low but there are hundreds players across the globe and ones near retirement to lay decent foundations. Add some TV and guaranteed salary (not IPL level) and it will evolve.

            I don’t have a preference for Twiggy’s league to concentrating on NRC, but either will have positives for WA rugby teams.

          • Roar Pro

            September 7th 2017 @ 8:20am
            robel said | September 7th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

            Geoff, nearly all of these are one weeks tournaments, they would have happened anyway, they are essentially the same “pathway” that existed prior to the Force being in Perth.
            This is the same alleged pathway that has been open in the past for all the southern states and yet how many South Australians, Tasmanians, WA, Vic players ever made it into the Wallabies via this route?

            The ERU by reducing backstabbing the Force have reduced the Australian player pool opportunities by 20%. It means now more than ever before there is less chance of a WA player (from the 3rd largest participation state) being able to get into an elite side.

        • September 6th 2017 @ 12:59pm
          Bakkies said | September 6th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

          Geoff don’t fall for the ARU’s bs you are better than that. The Spirit are part of the Alliance Agreement with the ARU. This was confirmed by Rugby WA’s VP.

          • Columnist

            September 6th 2017 @ 1:49pm
            Geoff Parkes said | September 6th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

            I’m not falling for anything Bakkies. As I mentioned the proof will be in what happens not what anyone claims will happen.

            My post is in response to the first two posters who 1) wanted to see something in writing from the ARU, and 2) claim that Perth will be dropped from the NRC

            • September 6th 2017 @ 8:36pm
              Train Without A Station said | September 6th 2017 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

              Geoff it’s clearly all a big conspiracy.

              You need to stay woke.

            • September 7th 2017 @ 2:01am
              Bakkies said | September 7th 2017 @ 2:01am | ! Report

              I don’t expect TWAS to uncover the truth as he is a Rebels employee. We need confirmation to find out whether the so called agreement between the ARU and the Vic Government was actually signed.

              • Roar Guru

                September 7th 2017 @ 8:19am
                Train Without A Station said | September 7th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

                I think by “truth” you mean “a narrative that supports your existing biases”.

              • September 7th 2017 @ 10:30am
                Bakkies said | September 7th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

                Explain your bias then….

              • Roar Guru

                September 7th 2017 @ 10:52am
                Train Without A Station said | September 7th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

                You tell me.

                You’re the one that claims I have it.

    • September 6th 2017 @ 5:44am
      Terry Tavita said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:44am | ! Report

      time to bury the hatchet and for the aru who have got what they wanted, to call a meeting with mr forrest..he’s the rich man and doesn’t need to kiss anybody’s a..get him to back the perth spirit..the good thing about the nrc is it allows rugby to grow small and organically from the grassroots..it’s accessible and allows communities the sense of ownership of their teams..give a team to samoa..and set up teams in darwin and adelaide..

    • September 6th 2017 @ 5:56am
      Ruckin' Oaf said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:56am | ! Report

      “The NRC runs between mid-August and October”

      Well that might have to change if the proposed vision is to take hold.

      • Roar Guru

        September 6th 2017 @ 12:34pm
        ThugbyFan said | September 6th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

        Why? It fits a niche time now. After the Super Rugby, Shute Shield and Brissie club comps have finished and before it gets too hot. For mine its a perfect fit.

        • September 6th 2017 @ 5:05pm
          Wozza said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

          In your piece you imply that we’re looking at Suer rugby not surviving in which case I would expect it to take that slot in the calendar. I understand and agree should Super rugby survive in some form but if not, how do you envisage the Super rugby slot being filled?

      • September 6th 2017 @ 1:02pm
        Bakkies said | September 6th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        What is there to serve WA Rugby from February to July apart from club Rugby? The parasites can’t answer that and they have no plan B for when it all goes títs up.

    • September 6th 2017 @ 6:43am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      Blind Freddy can see we need a national footprint.

      Great idea.
      Consult with the money men, including Twiggy, Fta, other sponsors and give WA two teams till Super falls over in 3 years.
      This could be the Phoenix rising from the burning shack called OZ rugby.

      Let the Force live in another comp. Let the chief stockholders, including Papworth and other Club centric folk, duke it out in a comp design process that could actually deliver a positive result. (Note: Culling a team in a strong growth area was never going to be good).
      This is a rare opportunity. We have a bloke with 50 big ones jangling in his pocket, a code in need of massive restructuring, a club level tribalism of epic proportions, and our international team in dire need of feeder support.

      What we don’t yet have is the imagination to see beyond our traditional prejudices.
      I have a couple of beloved clubs. I get tribalism. I get that we need it. Just as we need rugby in schools. But we need to have leaders who think outside of Mosman, the GPS and the Top Trickle Down theory.
      From little things big things grow.

      There has to be a way to weave club tribalism into a national comp. If we can find it, or create it, we will be halfway there.

    • Roar Guru

      September 6th 2017 @ 7:09am
      sheek said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Thugbyfan,

      “Now is the time for all concerned to bury the hatchet”.

      Sorry, no. A horrible decision made by stupid people doesn’t deserve to be left in peace.

      I’ve followed rugby for more than 50 years & this is the most disgraceful decision I’ve ever seen.

      Nor is the NRC is the answer. Certainly not as it presently exists.

      Only a few people on The Roar & elsewhere care about the NRC.

      The answer is the five provinces, one of which has been ‘discontinued’.

      There were other viable options available to the ARU board which they stubbornly ignored.

      They deserve no peace, no respect, no sympathy for their action.

      Send them to hell…..

      • September 6th 2017 @ 7:33am
        Sports Prophet said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

        Non existent rivalries played at extraordinary hours against provinces in Sth Africa, Argentina and Japan are not the answer sorry Sheek. Certainly not if the sport wants to garner interest from a new, younger generation.

        Super Rugby simply does not flick the switch of the standard Aussie sports fan. I have said for a couple of years now that a domestic league of 10-12 teams with live FTA content is the answer. I still believe this today.

        • Roar Guru

          September 6th 2017 @ 12:53pm
          ThugbyFan said | September 6th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

          I hear you Sheek but look at it from another angle. You say “Only a few people on The Roar & elsewhere care about the NRC. …” and that’s likely because there is dash all games on tv or promotion of matches. The ideas I am running would solve that. Get the NRC on FTA tv and people will start talking about it. Hide it on Foxtel and it continues exactly how you have said it. From what I could see last year’s NRC, the only place where people knew there was a match was in the country towns where the local media told the folks that “big time footy” was on at xyz stadium on Saturday.

          In the 70’s to 90’s I too loved the State vs State concept but to be honest only NSW, Canberra/NSWcountry and Queensland could field strong sides. And don’t we get that anyway with the Super Rugby teams? Look at all the promotion when the Tahs play the Reds, the old state rivalry is definitely there.

          Sports Prophet, I pretty much agree with you wrt the “who cares!” format of SR. I watch the NZ and Aussie sides go around and weep in my beer when them damned Kiwis flog us again. But the only games from SA I watch are replays if I remember to switch the recorder on.

          In a way, except for NSW and Qld, we already have “state” teams Victoria, WA, Fiji and Canberra. I’m ok with Queensland City and Queensland Country. In the article I suggested a South Australia/WA hybrid or another PI team so that’s another state. As usual its NSW fielding 3 teams. Perhaps one of the city teams could be culled and the NSW Country team only allow players born in the country to play for them. But they are minor points in my view.

          • September 6th 2017 @ 3:19pm
            Perthstayer said | September 6th 2017 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

            Thugby – This was an excellent article. Thanks for coming up with a possible solution.

            (I keep seeing Clyn’s face in the bottom right of my screen. I’m going to have to log off!))

            • September 6th 2017 @ 5:14pm
              Wozza said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

              Totally, they say bury the hatchet, I know where I want to bury it!

    • September 6th 2017 @ 7:29am
      Sul said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      All sounds good, but until you can get fans to identify with the teams the comp won’t get any traction. At the moment it is a mish mash of artificial teams that lack any substance, which fans can’t relate too. You only have to look at Queensland Country not one regional Queensland based player in the side. With 50% of player numbers in Queensland coming out of the regional areas, you have straight away put 50% of the fan base off the concept.

      • September 6th 2017 @ 5:29pm
        Wozza said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

        A country origin team based somewhere central playing out of a few different country towns each year maybe. If the depth is as you say it shouldn’t be hard putting a team together. Would that work for you.

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