And so the final Tri-Nations Test of the season goes on the line in Sydney this weekend. But wasn’t this competition all over about two months ago when the All Blacks won their first four games – three of them with bonus points?
Something has to be done with this competition that is closing in on boring. Not because as an All Black fan I am sick of seeing the All Blacks win – that will never happen. I will always love each and every win the All Blacks muster, especially against both the Springboks and the Wallabies.
But because our great game is not getting the coverage it deserves.
In Australian sports people know that between AFL, NRL and the A-League, rugby is a very poor fourth cousin and going backwards at a rate of knots. I read a few months ago that the popularity of rugby has gone from a booming 23 per cent after the 2003 World Cup hosted by Australia to just 10 per cent now. I stand corrected if these figures are wrong, but I think you get the point.
The administrators of rugby in Australia are the ones who need to answer a few very hard questions.
Such as, what is being done to keep the young school leavers interested in the game after they finish school?
How do we create more television exposure to the people to encourage them to watch the game? (Free-to-air, obviously.)
What are the genuine strategies/targets of the ARU in retaining/recruiting/attracting more players at all levels of the game?
Sure the money is at the top. Bums on seats as they say. But you can only put bums on seats if the product is good enough. The exposure of the game is only there for those with Pay TV. Not every one has this luxury.
The other codes are on free-to-air television and on radio every weekend – without fail (except the A-League). And they provide an entertainment package that keeps bringing the punter back.
The product can only be good enough if you have the right structures in place to keep improving. Improvement means involving more people, and “growing the game”.
An aspect of this has gone missing from the strategy adopted by the ARU.
On Saturday night, Robbie Deans will put out another young side against the might of the All Blacks and again will be up against the odds.
1. They have just returned from two very tough games against the Springboks in South Africa, the last one only last Saturday night.
2. They have lost the last nine on the trot against the All Blacks.
3. The All Black appear to be building up. Don’t think they have peaked just yet, because many would argue that they have plenty of room for improvement yet.
4. The AB’s have had a couple of weeks off since their last game in South Africa.
5. There is added motivation for the All Blacks to continue unbeaten in the Tri-Nations.
6. The earthquake in Christchurch last weekend. These boys want to give the loyal fans in NZ something to smile about.
I’m sure the Wallabies have their own motivations for Saturday’s game, and I hope they can live up to them, but for the All Blacks sake I hope they smash ’em.
For rugby’s sake I hope the Wallabies can put up a real performance which will capture the eyes of a nation. Something which will make Australia stand up and see that behind the other codes, rugby – the great game that it is – is on its way back.
I hear all too often how many RWC’s Australia has won and how the All Blacks choke.
Well at the moment Australian rugby is suffering some other kind of deadly disease and they need some sort of miracle cure to help it rise from the slow painfully dead it is currently experiencing.