WATCH: Nick Farr-Jones knows how to save rugby

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    We sat down with former Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones to discuss changes he’d like to see made in rugby to combat the disillusionment he believes is brewing at the community level.

    Farr-Jones strongly believes that there needs to be more of a focus on the community game and urged players to make more public appearances.

    “The first thing I’d be saying if I took over rugby, is that guys, a part of your contract is going to be…I want you to make 20 or 30 appearances supporting community rugby,” he said.

    Farr-Jones thinks that in addition to helping others, players have the ability to improve their futures by being more involved in their communities.

    “Prepare yourself for life after. Speaking, going to these things, meeting people, will prepare you for life after rugby and sport. It’ll give you confidence,” he said.

    On a positive note, he states that female players are already putting in great effort in this area.

    “The girls who won the gold medal, they’re fantastic, they’ll put their hand up straight away because they haven’t been disillusioned about the professional sport,” he added.

    It’s not just the players that need to change, either. Farr-Jones feels that some player agents are a big part of the issue.

    “Player agents who are parasitic, saying in our contract, we only have to turn up six times. Get rid of those player agents,” he said.

    He knows that the changes he wants to see will not come easily, but should be treated as a high-priority issue.

    “It’s going to be blood, sweat and tears. It’s going to be a long way back. You can’t set goals that are unrealistic. So let’s forget about winning the next rugby World Cup. Let’s forget about that. Let’s work out a whole bunch of short, sort of longer-term objectives we can work towards,” he said.

    Check out the segment in the viewer above, or watch the interview in full over here.

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    The Crowd Says (51)

    • October 10th 2017 @ 10:58am
      Stu B said | October 10th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      Great to note that one authoritative voice can articulate how far we have to go or rather how low our great game has been been dragged.Shame on you ARU your business plan may have worked for a banking corporation but for a sporting code chock full of human beings it’s a total disaster.

      • Roar Guru

        October 10th 2017 @ 12:22pm
        Train Without A Station said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

        Great to note that one authoritative voice can articulate how far we have to go or rather how low our great game has been been dragged

        And it was dragged there while he was Chairman of the NSWRU…

    • October 10th 2017 @ 11:19am
      Mackenzie said | October 10th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      Perhaps playing at the highest level is now seen as the “job”. I believe the honour and glory of pulling on the green and gold has been overtaken by the job description.
      Sam Whitelock wants to play every test – he has the right attitude.
      It’s not only in rugby of course. Some of the reasons for professional sportsmen pulling out of test matches are rather lame but it is their choice.
      Pity though for the AFL and league players who either don’t have international competitiom or played in contrived tournaments fisguised as so called World Cups.

    • October 10th 2017 @ 11:19am
      Mackenzie said | October 10th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      Perhaps at the pro level should go out to the small country rugby clubs and learn about the grassroots which built the game in the first place.

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2017 @ 11:21am
      sheek said | October 10th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      I agree 100% with Nick Farr-Jones. in a previous exchange he noted the importance of developing the grassroots. Now he acknowledges the need for the pro players to be visible in their communities.

      Unfortunately, this is not something that only an Einstein or a Farr-Jones can figure out. Any thoughtful rugby fan can see the truth of this.

      The sad fact is that administrators got caught up in chasing the money at the expense of growing the base, while players just got caught up in themselves.

      In the amateur days, players were also part of the community, working shoulder to shoulder with their mates & colleagues. By virtue of their circumstances, professional rugby players have become isolated from their roots.

      They need to rediscover them.

      But this is only part of the problem, while it remains a major problem in itself.

      Once the base is nourished & grows, hopefully Australian rugby will have more players, including quality players, pushing for professional contracts & Wallaby positions.

      This then leads to the next significant problem – what kind of structures do we have in place to facilitate this growth, hopefully when it occurs?

      Currently both super rugby & NRC are mis-firing. Both have their problems, significant problems. Australian rugby is going to have to find ways to streamline the player pathways.

      Just chasing the revenue streams by itself is a recipe for disaster. Australian rugby needs to develop long-term, sustainable domestic structures.

      When all else fails, we can always “pick the eyes out” of the NZ system. That’s assuming we’re not too full of ourselves not needing to learn from anyone else.

      • Roar Guru

        October 10th 2017 @ 12:21pm
        Train Without A Station said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        Just chasing the revenue streams by itself is a recipe for disaster. Australian rugby needs to develop long-term, sustainable domestic structures.

        Without the revenue streams what pays for those structures?

        When all else fails, we can always “pick the eyes out” of the NZ system. That’s assuming we’re not too full of ourselves not needing to learn from anyone else.

        All the opposition is to measures to align with the NZ system. The NRC for example is one of the biggest moves made to align with NZ.

        • Roar Guru

          October 10th 2017 @ 1:15pm
          sheek said | October 10th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          Just to help you out: operative words were, “by itself”.

          If the NRC mimics anything in NZ rugby, I’m a monkey’s uncle. The NPC teams are long-established, historical provinces with delineable roots to their communities.

          And don’t give me this crap about having to start somewhere. Too many of the NRC teams are poorly thought out. That’s the truth.

          • Roar Guru

            October 10th 2017 @ 1:34pm
            Train Without A Station said | October 10th 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

            We don’t have long standing, established historical provinces that are the right size for a competition of this nature.

            We have to create them in some cases. NZ needed to create larger provinces for Super Rugby because there’s were too small individually.

            But generally the teams do follow the ones that we have.

            Spirit = WA
            Rising = Victoria
            Vikings = ACT
            Bris City = QLD Metro
            QLD Country = QLD Country

            And for all the delineable roots to NZ communities, it hardly makes the NPC a successful commercial product.

            It makes about $6M a year in TV Revenue. Last year Wellington had less than 5,000 people to their semi final and 2065 to their final round game vs Waikato.

            • Roar Guru

              October 10th 2017 @ 2:12pm
              sheek said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

              Qld Country would be okay if they played in Qld Country. A team that mostly plays on the Gold Coast isn’t representing all of QC. And how many players in QC are actually from outside Brisbane/Gold Coast?

              NSW Country Eagles is disowned by NSW Country Cockatoos, because most of its players come from Easts, Randwick & SU in the city. Saying some of these guys are originally from the country is stretching the rubber band of believability.

              There is a place for NSW Country & Qld Country, but not in a comp with pretensions to being mainstream.

              The reasons ought to be obvious the Country teams are best located in a development comp along with Tasmania & NT & maybe in the future, Country teams from WA & Victoria.

              The Vikings might as well be Tuggeranong, which is not representative of ALL the ACT. They might have all the money but a monopoly is unhealthy in the long-term.

              Brisbane City I now get, just like Sydney City. Except that in my day they were simply known as Brisbane & Sydney, & the Easter rep fixture was simply referred to as ‘City vs Country’.

              Greater Sydney Rams & Sydney Rays is really mangling the lexicon of words. There was nothing wrong with Western Sydney Rams & North Harbour Rays, while Sydney Fleet would complete the geographical triangle.

              Near enough in these exercises isn’t good enough. Unless ARU gets the connection between teams & their constituencies spot on, it will fail to inspire support.

              Diehard rugby fans can’t figure out why the NRC is struggling for traction. The reason is simple enough, there’s too much bulldust around the makeup of some of the teams.

              What will happen to the Spirit & Rising, when Force & Rebels come back into the fold, as might well happen in 2021? And for that matter, the Rams, Rays, Vikings & City?

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 2:18pm
                sheek said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

                As for the NPC struggling to make money, ditto the Currie Cup.

                Before professional rugby & super rugby, fans in NZ & SA had the NPC & CC as their major fare below the internationals.

                The ABs & Boks would rarely play more than about 6 tests in a year. People could afford to go & see their national team play once a year, plus follow their favourite province live maybe up to half a dozen times a year.

                Today, each of the major international teams are playing 14-15 tests annually. That’s right, every year. In addition there are about 18-20 super rugby matches per team. Every year.

                If the NPC & CC are struggling for fans, is it any wonder after they’ve been ripped off by stadia providers & merchandisers, not to mention the pay-TV subs?

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 2:27pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 10th 2017 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

                Gold Coast is traditionally one of the strongest regions in the QLD Country Championships.

                This year I think they played 2 of 4 home games there, more than the 1 of 4 in past years.

                The Vikings draw all players from the JID. They literally represent the ACT.

                So because of the word “City” on the end of a name the whole comp doesn’t work?

                Why is it the ARU’s fault that the Sydney teams who fought for their control don’t connect well enough?

                Every other state seems to do fine, except for NSW here.

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 3:32pm
                sheek said | October 10th 2017 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

                You’re very good at cherry-picking. I’ve already moved on from Brisbane ‘City’.

                Let’s not pretend about Tuggeranong’s dominance of ACT rugby. if you want to climb the pro rugby ladder in ACT, Tuggeranong is your best bet.

                The NRC Vikings play in the same colours & under the same nickname as Tuggeranong.

                That’s plainly wrong in my view. The stated intention to return to the ACT colours & Kookaburras nickname hasn’t been followed through.

                How does this Vikings integrate fans from Wests Lions, or Easts Beasties, or Queanbeyan Whites, or Canberra Royals, or Gungahlin Eagles, or Uni-Norths Owls?

                Like I said, if ARU want s to get NRC right, near enough is not good enough.

              • Roar Guru

                October 10th 2017 @ 3:47pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 10th 2017 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

                How does this Vikings integrate fans from Wests Lions, or Easts Beasties, or Queanbeyan Whites, or Canberra Royals, or Gungahlin Eagles, or Uni-Norths Owls?

                The same way that Port Adelaide in the AFL integrates fans from Central District, Glenelg, North Adelaide, Norwood, South Adelaide, Sturt, West Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens?

                The Canberra Vikings are not the same as the Tuggernong Vikings though.

                Sampson coaches Tuggernong but Ruaidhri Murphy is from Gungahlin, Dan Hooper from Uni-Norths and Dan Palmer has no affiliation being a Brumbies coach.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 9:45am
                sheek said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

                Again you pick selective arguments. Port Adelaide mostly serve Port Adelaide.

                It’s the Crows who mostly represent the other clubs in the SANFL.

                The Crows were originally created to prevent the Power getting the AFL license. Port eventually succeeded joining the AFL anyway.

                For your argument to have traction, ACT would need another team to represent the other six Phil Dent Cup teams. Let’s call them Canberra Kookaburras.

                Canberra Kookaburras = Adelaide Crows & Tuggeranong Vikings = Port Adelaide Power.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 11:29am
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

                But wouldn’t the presence of another team only further impact them?

                If Port Adelaide were the only team in Adelaide wouldn’t they be better off than competing with a team that according to you, represents the other 8 SANFL teams?

                Should the Crows support be 8 times that of Port?

                When in fact their attendance isn’t vastly different. In a year where the Crows went into September as premiership favourites they averaged 46k home attendance during the home and away rounds while Port who apparently alienates 8/9ths of the Adelaide Football community averaged 38k during the home and away rounds.

                Despite the presence of a competitor that is apparently supposed to represent all, Port gets about 45% of the total Adelaide attendance market.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 1:43pm
                sheek said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                I’ve a mate who was born & lives in Adelaide confirm my point about Power & Crows.

                While there has been some leakage from other SANFL clubs to Power, most of their support base comes from the old PA Magpies.

                My counter argument was used to highlight the hollowness of your Vikings position.

                Sure, the NRC Vikings has coaches & players from other clubs, but it doesn’t pretend to be representative of the entire ACT when it continues to use the nickname/mascot & colours of Tuggeranong.

                Only when the Canberra Kookaburras run out in their old blue, gold, black & white will the NRC team be fully representative of all ACT.

                Only people obsessed with seeing the NRC succeed at any cost would be blind to this contradiction of Vikings in both JIDC & NRC..

                One of several reasons why the ARC failed in 2007 was because the Central Coast Rays was filled with North Harbour/Shore players.

                This satisfied neither the Central Coast nor Sydney’s North Harbour/Shore’s fans.

                Let’s stop pretending the Vikings represents all of ACT, because it doesn’t.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 1:47pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

                Regardless of what your “mate” says, the facts say that Adelaide AFL supported is pretty evenly split between the 2, with a slight advantage going to the longer established team.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 6:54pm
                sheek said | October 11th 2017 @ 6:54pm | ! Report

                And regardless of what you say, you’re full of crap.

                I’ll take the the opinion of my Adelaide mate any day.

                He’s written books on subjects in both cricket & football. He has a wide circle of associates.

                He knows what he’s talking about.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 8:42am
                Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:42am | ! Report

                Except what the independently reported attendances tell us…

                This isn’t my information and opinion. This is reported fact.

                That’s just his opinion.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 8:58am
              Julius said | October 11th 2017 @ 8:58am | ! Report

              @Train Without A Station ”

              NZ needed to create larger provinces for Super Rugby because there’s (sic) were too small individually.”

              NZ created Super rugby franchises–not larger provinces. All of New Zealand’s provincial unions are connected to a franchise.

              “And for all the delineable roots to NZ communities, it hardly makes the NPC a successful commercial product.”

              The broadcast rights to the NPC are sold around the world. Just like Super rugby, the Mitre 10 Cup games are pitched more for the TV viewer. Games scheduled in the afternoon still get reasonable crowds. And contrary to what you may think, NZ’s Mitre 10 Cup is a successful commercial product:

              NZRU:
              “Provincial rugby is in pretty good heart,” Lancaster said. “We annually track all of the provincial unions financial situation. In 2016, all of the Mitre 10 Cup teams returned a profit, which is a really positive thing.”

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 11:34am
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

                Yes they created franchises – which were amalgamations of the existing provinces, because those were not big enough.

                Does referring to them as a franchise being a group of provinces, rather than a created Super Rugby province really change the point at all?

                They can sell the broadcast rights wherever they want, presently it has not been for as much as they grant the unions to run NPC.

                All Unions make a profit because the NZRU subsidizes them from All Black income. They do so because they consider it in the best interests of the All Blacks, much like supporting the NRC is in the best interests of the Wallabies.

          • October 11th 2017 @ 9:40am
            Julius said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            @ Sheek
            “If the NPC & CC are struggling for fans, is it any wonder after they’ve been ripped off by stadia providers & merchandisers, not to mention the pay-TV subs?”

            There’s plenty of fans, just not that many as there used to be willing to go along on a cold wet night. Most stay at home and watch on TV. Anyone who watched the recent Canterbury v Taranaki match, which also doubled as a Ranfurly Shield challenge, would know just how passionate the fans are. The victorious (and very hungover) Taranaki boys got a rousing reception when they arrived back at New Plymouth airport next morning. It was the best NPC game I’ve seen in years.

            A strength of NZ domestic rugby is the fact that most provinces, large and small, either own their own ground and facilities or are the beneficiary of a trust that owns it. Costs can be kept down.

            Your point about pay-TV subs is an important one. The present model is getting to the point of not working. I suspect the majority of fans now watch the Mitre 10 Cup on a streaming device and pay nothing. The interest of Amazon in NZ rugby may bring a new era. Simply put, the number of fans at the ground isn’t an indicator of popularity anymore.

            A few weeks ago I grabbed from a junk shop for $1 the History of the Auckland Rugby Union (up to 1969). Right from the start, the union ran a tight ship. The participation of the city’s prominent businessmen–all unpaid–ensured the sport was built on a sound foundation. Assets were acquired at the right price, Eden Park was developed (it was a swamp when they acquired it), acts of Parliament were passed on the Union’s behalf to clarify the relationship of the Eden Park trust with the ARU, everything was done with an eye to the future. Every action undertaken was reported down to the last penny. ( What a pity a few carpetbaggers got in the door in recent times.)

            It must be hard for Australian rugby to replicate at provincial level what has taken over a century to build in NZ.

            • Roar Guru

              October 11th 2017 @ 9:46am
              sheek said | October 11th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

              Thanks Julius,

              Always good to hear from the actual fans, rathe than some blowhard on The Roar!

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 11:32am
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 11:32am | ! Report

                Yeah who needs the established, reported facts like Wellington’s attendances when some bloke can just say an opinion that you like the sound of!

              • October 11th 2017 @ 1:50pm
                Julius said | October 11th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                @ Train Without A Station

                “Yes they created franchises – which were amalgamations of the existing provinces, because those were not big enough.”

                What the hell does that mean? They were not amalgamations. The Super franchises are completely separate entities with their own management. The provinces in the designated catchment area for a Super rugby franchise have their own identity/management.

                “All Unions make a profit because the NZRU subsidizes them from All Black income.”

                What? ??? They make a profit because they have been forced to keep a lid on costs. They haven’t always made a profit; a few provinces have had management changes forced upon them to receive funding.

                “Yeah who needs the established, reported facts like Wellington’s attendances ..”

                So you have based your homespun theory on a cherry-picked attendance stat?
                It’s like arguing with a five-year-old.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 2:11pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:11pm | ! Report

                The Super franchises are separate entities which represent a number of provinces that are all stake holders.

                As for finances, I suggest you look at the financial reports of each of the provinces and the All Blacks. The NZRU Annual Report for 2016 on Page 46 notes $26,738,000 in Mitre 10 Cup funding.

                Cherry picked? The 2nd biggest region in NZ averaged 3,000 for the 2016 season despite making finals. Crowd figures are not published for all matches so between the articles outlining concerns and the known figures this is all that’s available.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 2:33pm
                Jerry said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

                I think TWAS is right, the Mitre 10 Cup is effectively subsidised. It makes a profit, but only if you count the funds from NZ Rugby as revenue which is a fiction. It doesn’t generate enough real revenue to sustain itself but the NZR views it as a crucial development path so it props it up.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 2:48pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

                Yeah it’s a smart move by the NZRU as they get plenty out of it, but they essentially pass on to the unions more more than it makes in TV revenue.

                The NZRU makes about $9M AUD more than the ARU from TV income for example.

                If we could do so I would advocate the same for the NRC and trying to pass on around $1M per team.

            • October 11th 2017 @ 2:57pm
              Julius said | October 11th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

              @TWAS

              Your original statement:
              “NZ needed to create larger provinces for Super Rugby because there’s (sic) were too small individually.”

              Then this:
              “Yes they created franchises – which were amalgamations of the existing provinces, because those were not big enough.”

              Modified again:
              “The Super franchises are separate entities which represent a number of provinces that are all stake holders.”

              So there we have it: The provinces weren’t “too small” and they were not “amalgamated”.
              All you now need to do is admit you don’t know what you’re talking about.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 3:08pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                The provinces were too small. No single province is large enough to commercially support a Super Rugby team.

                The franchises represent a number of provinces – almost an amalgamation (“the action, process, or result of combining or uniting”) for Super Rugby purposes.

                You’re arguing over semantics, rather than any disagreement with the original point that Australian provinces were larger, more populated regions the right size for Super Rugby teams, but the NZ provinces were too small and under populated regions for the same thing, so they combined a few to create them.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 3:11pm
                Julius said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                @ Jerry

                Of course the NZ provinces get funding from the NZRU. The NZRU sells the broadcasting rights–the provinces, essentially, get a dividend from the NZRU. If the individual provinces were left to sink or swim and survive only on gate-takings, they’d all want to play on Saturday afternoon. The competition, from a broadcasting point of view, would be worthless. The only days without a Mitre 10 Cup game on TV at the moment are Monday and Tuesday. The viewer numbers for Mitre 10 Cup are excellent.

                As it stands, the provinces take a hit on gate takings but collect on the distribution from the NZRU. That is the business model. It works.

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 3:15pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

                The broadcasting rights return less than the NZRU grant to run the Mitre 10 Cup teams.

                That is subsidization.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 3:18pm
                Jerry said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

                I’m fairly sure the broadcast rights don’t cover costs. The NZRU sold broadcast rights for the Mitre 10 Cup, Super Rugby & All Blacks tests for $70m a season and there is no way that Mitre 10 Cup generates 37% of that (ie, the $26m quoted by TWAS above).

              • Roar Guru

                October 11th 2017 @ 3:38pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 11th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                Not when you consider that to be $66M AUD and the ARU generates $57M in TV income without the same product, and that the NZRU likely generates slightly more income for Super Rugby and Test Rugby due to their stature and demand for their own games.

              • October 11th 2017 @ 5:14pm
                Julius said | October 11th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

                @ TWAS
                “The broadcasting rights return less than the NZRU grant to run the Mitre 10 Cup teams.

                That is subsidization”

                You still don’t get it. You seem to be trapped in an Australian rugby model and can’t see out.

    • Roar Guru

      October 10th 2017 @ 12:20pm
      Train Without A Station said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

      Does anybody see the irony in a man that has held a major position of power in Australian Rugby (former Chairman of the NSWRU) during it’s worst decline, supposedly knows how to save Australian Rugby?

      The fact is, if he did, the game would be in a better position right now.

    • October 10th 2017 @ 12:47pm
      DaveR said | October 10th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

      Great comments from NFJ and TWAS.

      But there seems to be an air of unreality around at the moment, as if none of the ARU disaster of 2017 happened. Perhaps its on the back of the Boks draw and Pumas win. But the inescapable fact is that the rugby public and especially the clubs, big and small, have lost confidence in the ARU board.

      While it is necessary for Pulver to go, the rest of the ARU board that aproved the woeful descisions must all go as well, especially Clyne and Eales. The longer this board stays in place the greater the chance of another series of poor decisions and wrong choices, and longer proper reform is delayed.

      The time to renew the ARU is now, so that there is a good chance for a strong 2018 season.

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