Future’s not All Black for New Zealand rugby

Rugby Andrew Roar Rookie

By Rugby Andrew, Rugby Andrew is a Roar Rookie

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134 Have your say

    What would happen if New Zealand rugby was able to fund a fully professional domestic competition? What would the implications be for Australian rugby in particular, but also the Pacific Island unions?

    An article I read this week led to this line of questioning. The article discussed New Zealand Rugby Union’s bid to increase global sponsorship (i.e. into the USA) of its flagship ‘brand’, the All Blacks, using its association with American insurers AIG.

    There are plans to take the All Blacks name to the wider rugby/sporting world, earning the New Zealand Rugby Union more sponsorship dollars, primarily those of the greenback appearance.

    I’m going to take a mental leap or two forward here. Imagine a fully cashed-up NPC with players earning a decent living at just the provincial level. These teams could travel to games by air, have the ability to host top notch live events and even say no to TV demands for night games to attract crowds.

    What impact would such a scenario have on Australian rugby?

    At first, second and possibly third glance, none. However, much closer scrutiny reveals there may be hidden benefits for Aussie rugby.

    The emergence of a fully professional NPC in New Zealand could provide a useful ‘plan B’ for Australian rugby administrators wanting to create a third tier of completion. I view the proposed under 23 competition as a nice start but still inadequate.

    If, and this is big, the New Zealand Rugby Union can cash up its NPC then it could allow the ARU to develop, not to mention keep, its top players by providing them with a lucrative and challenging pathway.

    Okay, fellow Kiwis, settle down! Let me explain.

    The AFL and NRL’s billion-dollar deals pose a problem for the New Zealand Rugby Union. These codes (and soccer, to a lesser extent) are increasingly eyeing their trans-Tasman neighbours and New Zealand is not such a big country/market that the New Zealand Rugby Union can afford to ignore such intrusions.

    The Warriors have two rich owners (although Glenn Christie’s involvement still baffles me given he is a self-confessed rugby union man) and the AFL are making noises about jumping the ditch.

    If the ARU cannot, or will not, start up a domestic NPC – the Australian Rugby Shield was the perfect development vehicle and the only true national sporting competition – then the players needs to take matters into their own hands.

    At the very least, the New Zealand Rugby Union should set up a trans-Tasman player registry so if Aussie players want to play in the NPC, the New Zealand provinces will be able to pick them.

    Look at Australian NPC alumni the likes of James Hilgendorf, Brock James, Peter Playford and new Waratah signing Peter Betham (who was apparently in the sights of New Zealand Super franchises and says he wants to return across the Tasman for this year’s competition).

    Next time I will look at how Aussie teams could be assimilated into a Tasman Provincial Competition – TPC anyone?

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    The Crowd Says (134)

    • January 30th 2013 @ 5:02am
      mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 5:02am | ! Report

      AFL and NRL’s billion-dollar sponsorship doesnt pose NZ any problems. they should be welcomed onto NZ shores and given a chance to prosper. diversity is the key to survival. i love league and i played a bit of aussie rules when i lived over there. both good games with their own strategy and tactics. both physical and fast.

      i do however agree with aus players being contracted to NPC provinces. i dont think there should be an aus team in our ITM but definately have up to 8 players per team.

    • January 30th 2013 @ 5:13am
      Johnno said | January 30th 2013 @ 5:13am | ! Report

      Glen Christie wanted in too NZ rugby, but he wanted to own a super rugby team outright. The NZRU said no. So he went to rugby league, where he could be top goat the boss. the Warriors I am really excited about.
      With the 2019 world cup in Japan in Asia-paicfic, NZ should strengthen ties with Japan rugby which is growing, and much improved .

      Id love super rugby to be Aust/NZ/Japan, and nz keep it’s 3rd tier ITM cup. Any aussy involvement in NZ’s 3rd-tier ,NZ should wisely avoid. There is new plans, for a licence deal business model for NZ’s super rugby teams. But the NZRU still will have ownership of the teams, but the licences will get a say on marketing and promotions, and promotion benefits. I think the Hurricanes/Crusader’s have .


      Australia-Japan rivalry is really exciting. However I am still sceptical if Japan will bother join super rugby. The corporation there like, running the teams, bring in a lot of money, and the standard of Japan rugby is improving. In other word’s i am not sure Japan even needs SUper rugby, and same applies to USA/Canada.. All this super rugby expansion, i still can’t see it happening outside of the 3 current SANZAR nations.

      If South Africa were to leave SUper rugby and join the NH or go stand alone domestic comp, Aust/NZ trans tasman comp could survive. As revenue would be higher for away matches due to friendly tv times.

      But test matches make big money the RC, and South Africa bring in big money too the RC, and super rugby acts as a good promotional tool for the RC.

      So were are back to square 1. Unless Japan comes in to super rugby, or USA/Canada, . 2016 when the new Tv deal starts will still be same old,same old. South Africa who have no opponents in Africa, and Europe doesn’t want them, they will stay in SANZAR, and join Argentina in the RC.

      And pacific islands team, in the RC, Fiji or Samoa in the RC, a pacific islands team in super rugby playing out of Auckland, a pacific islands team in a 3-rd tier in Aust or NZ. . All these scenarios, forget it, it won’t happen Not commercially viable enough.

      And NZ or Australia, don’s seem too keen on having a non aussy or kiwi team basing it self in it’s country, despite large pacific islands populations. I think it’s co the same as the old NSL soccer , not running teams on ethnic lines.

      So SANZAR will continue, in 2016 and Aust/NZ will still join up with the larger STH African market. I am still concerned about low tv ratings, for away matches in South Africa, . But I like the conference system, more local derbies and hope it stays.
      For me the most logical solution, to all 3 countries, and strengthening depth, is 1 extra super rugby team in each country, south africa would love it. And all 3have a 3rd-tier, but no joint 3rd-tier between Aust/NZ. WOuld not be good for NZ development, as there whole junior pathways are so differently planned to Australia’s.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 6:00am
        mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:00am | ! Report

        johnno – i’m not a fan of derbies as i like seeing nz teams smash other teams rather than each other. but i do understand the logisticcal advantages it gives in such a big conf.
        i’m def not a fan of the sanzar nations getting more teams. that avenue has been exhausted and done to death and shows nothing innovative or new. expanding into the asia or american markets is much more attractive cos its at least trying something different.

      • Roar Guru

        January 30th 2013 @ 6:07am
        biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:07am | ! Report

        Johnno, again with your extra super rugby team?

        Ankther su
        Er rugby team will effectivley kill any chance Currie Cup have of sustaining itself.

        Super rugby should not and must not be the be all and end all of SH provincial rugby.

        There is only one way forward if super rugby wants to expand and remain.

        The Currie Cup and ITM cup and a similar cup competition must take the place of the conferences.

        Whereby each country can then have as many teams as they want in their domestic conference and these domestic teams play a round robin only amongst themselves and travel and cross conference matches are completely irradicated.

        Only after these comps have been completed can the top 2 teams progress to some form lf knock out series. I am more and more inclined to concede the hC model would work best as the compeition can be shortened and the domestic legs still take precendence.

        That also takes care of the viewing times for each of these countries as there will be much less cross continent matches and you’ll get your derbies.

        • January 30th 2013 @ 6:16am
          mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:16am | ! Report

          biltongbek – currie cup should be protected above super. SA have been very good at protecting it and rightly so.
          itm however has adapted and survived the expansion. i dont know how as i was a doom sayer when the AB’s were removed from ITM but i’m now of the opinion that ITM is better than ever. its faster and has a skill level equal to super quality over all .
          i dont like the idea of ITM being adapted to be a knock out stage for super. imo super just shouldnt encroach at all on what little time ITM has to itself.
          i like cross continent games. touring SA is the baptism of fire that every professional player neeeds to go thru. it seperates the men from the boys

          • Roar Guru

            January 30th 2013 @ 6:22am
            biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:22am | ! Report

            Mania, that is fine if you wantt cross continent matches.

            But then.

            There must be less teams and it must be home and away. Otherwise it simply loses all credibiltity for me. We have spoken about this before, I hate the current format. The teams that get through don’t have an equal chhance, some play easier games, otherlay easier opponents.

            Let us just look at the stormers vs the Chiefs, if they are the two best teams in the comp, they must play each kther home AND away.

            Reduce the teams then.

            • January 30th 2013 @ 7:34am
              mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:34am | ! Report

              agree. top teams need to play each other more than just one off’s. dont know how itll be done though especially as the conf system is here to stay and will be needed if canada and US are brought on board as rumoured. definately reduce the current amount of sanzar teams

            • January 30th 2013 @ 1:07pm
              Hightackle said | January 30th 2013 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

              More teams, less teams?
              You cant have a home and away and being SA I thought you would know this. SA teams would be hugely disadvantaged.
              lets say they drop it to 12 teams. Thats 8 weeks that all SA teams need to be away on the other end of the earth for.
              I like the new format, not becuz its fair but becuz its the best system possible.

              • Roar Guru

                January 30th 2013 @ 4:36pm
                biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                I don’t think it is the best system possible. If they are adament about the conference system then let the conferences fight it out on their own for qualification to go to the knock out rounds.

                Also the problem you have with conferences are that you should either have two, or four, or eight conferences as you need it to follow the correct format for qualification of quarters, semi’s and final.

                Even the HC is flawed in the fact that it has 6 pools. The winner plus two best losers, Two best losers? how do you establish two best losers when everyone is in a different pool with different degrees of quality opposition?

              • January 31st 2013 @ 3:13am
                Hightackle said | January 31st 2013 @ 3:13am | ! Report

                So whats your solution?
                More or less teams isnt going to happen, it just isnt.
                Travel is a problem.
                So its the best system possible.
                Unless you can come up with a better system without shrinking the earth, making SA teams travel too much or adding or taking away teams, what is your solution?
                And I disagree about the number of conferences. 6 is perfect for a playoffs stage. The 2 top qualifiers are rewarded for their efforts and get to sit out a game and refresh.

                Its the best system possible. I have not heard a better system yet.

              • January 31st 2013 @ 3:20am
                Hightackle said | January 31st 2013 @ 3:20am | ! Report

                Also how can the conferences fight it out by themselves. Its only 5 teams. If they only played amoungst themselves they would play each other 4 or more times in a season. Also if your confetence has 4 top teams and SA and Australia have none it is far too lop-sided.

              • Roar Guru

                January 31st 2013 @ 3:30am
                abnutta said | January 31st 2013 @ 3:30am | ! Report


                I can’t fathom your concerns.

                There are plenty of models out there which advocate “closed conferences” for SR (no cross conference matches means no international travel during the conference stage of the competition).

                Therefore you can have more teams in each conference be it 6, 8 or 10 in each and still have less travel and expenses involved with running the current 15 team SR comp.

              • January 31st 2013 @ 4:43am
                Hightackle said | January 31st 2013 @ 4:43am | ! Report

                What are you talking about?
                There are 5 yeams in each conference. Not 6,8,45 or 112.
                Abnutta find me a conference system that only has 5 teams where they play a whole season amoungst themselves.
                Last I checked the super rugby had 5 and wouldnt allow 6.
                My concerns are that it wouldnt work with 5. I chose the number 5 becuz thays how many teams we have. I have no idea why people keep going on about 10 teams or whatever. We have 5, so dont say it would work better if we had 10 or 26 or whatever. Its super 15 and until that changes and we get 49 teams in each conference I see no point in arguing on how the system doesnt work becuz in fantasy land there are much more teams.
                This is the best system for super 15 and until somebody comes up with a better system for the 15 teams we have, I am happy with it.

          • Roar Guru

            January 30th 2013 @ 6:26am
            biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:26am | ! Report

            The real problem with the ARU, NZRU and SARU is that you have three nations all wanting Super Rugby to serve different purposes.

            sARU wants Super rugby to serve the purpose of being a SUPER competition, superior in quality and intensity and superior to Currie Cup. It seem to me NZ wants the same, but Australia wants Super Rugby to be something else.

            Any partnership whereby everyone doesn’t share the same vision will eventually fall apart. It is only natural.

            • January 30th 2013 @ 6:37am
              mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:37am | ! Report

              biltongbek – agree. imo ARU wants super to save aus rugby and be their develoment program . they want SA and NZ to pitch in to help save it without ARU doing any investment in grassroots of its own. totally shortsighted.
              SARU and NZRFU need to adamantly tell ARU that its domestic shortcomings and its failure to out market AFL and NRL is solely an aus problem
              however i disagree its doomed to failure. partnerships are built on compromise and understanding….and failing that bullying.

              • Roar Guru

                January 30th 2013 @ 6:45am
                biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:45am | ! Report

                Eventually someone is going to get to a point of having had enough, one way is the contiuous demand for expansion which doesn’t serve the purpose of why Supr Rugby saw the light in the first place.

              • January 30th 2013 @ 6:49am
                mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 6:49am | ! Report

                biltongbek – i note more doom and gloom to u this year. are u not happy with the prospects of the boks? meyers first year i thought was positive and he showed an ability to learn. the players are there.
                i agree super has too many sanzar teams but its the 3rd season of the super 15. expansion in 2016 is promising with new teams and fresh new ideas and markets hopefully to b explored.
                with the conf system super can expand without eating up more of the rugby calendar if SA and NZRFU have the balls to stand up and say u cant eat away anymore of currie cup and itm time. it’ll take a bit more planning and creativity but it can be done

              • Roar Guru

                January 30th 2013 @ 7:11am
                biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:11am | ! Report

                I am very interested to see how the various halfback pairings are going to do in their Franchises.

                So no, not doom and gloom, Burger will be back, Juan Smith is back,

                As far as the NZRU and SARU having the balls, I doubt it.

              • January 30th 2013 @ 7:14am
                mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:14am | ! Report

                might be a few rugby balls lying around but no, none of the metaphoric ones we hope for.
                looking forward to burger coming back. i wonder what new evolution he’s going to introduce to his game? he was working on an off loading game befor getting injured

              • Roar Guru

                January 30th 2013 @ 1:50pm
                jeznez said | January 30th 2013 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Give the new ARU CEO a chance – JON was adamant that Super Rugby should be the vehicle for Aussie rugby you describe and that he saw no room for a third tier apart from the club rugby competitions.

                Pulver has stated that a third tier for Aussie rugby is on the agenda – I think we need to wait and see what he comes up with.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 12:38pm
        Colvin said | January 30th 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

        Is “Glen Christie” actually Sir Owen Glen?

        I thought the owners were Eric Watson and Owen Glen

      • January 31st 2013 @ 3:35am
        Dadiggle said | January 31st 2013 @ 3:35am | ! Report

        Sure South Africa can leave Super Rugby but I do not know who is make that deal worth anything since South Africa bring much more than Australia and NZ to the table. If we go all India on you guya the Lions and the Kings would be in Super Rugby now and you all be playing matches 4 am in the morning.

    • Roar Guru

      January 30th 2013 @ 5:59am
      biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 5:59am | ! Report

      Andrew, what I don’t get is why would the NZRU give places to Australian Rugby players instead of their own Players?

      That doesn’t make sense to me, if the NZRU replaces 5 players per provincial team that takes 70 NZ rugby players out of the loop.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 8:43am
        Mike said | January 30th 2013 @ 8:43am | ! Report

        I agree with you 100% biltongbek. as a NZer this makes no sense to me. The ITM cup is the perfect breeding ground to develop young NZ players & expose them to a decent level of pro rugby before playing S15, & this is a massive reason why NZ teams have been successful in Super Rugby. I hope this doesnt happen for the good of NZ rugby. Australia need to create there own 3rd tier comp to develop depth & bridge the gap between club football to Super Rugby.

        • Roar Guru

          January 30th 2013 @ 8:54am
          biltongbek said | January 30th 2013 @ 8:54am | ! Report

          Yeah Mike, without wanting to create controversy I get the feeling some Australian posters want to shift the responsibility of ARU onto NZRU to develop their players.

          It is time that the ARU become accountable for the shortages deemed bybAustralian rugby supporters in their system.

          • January 30th 2013 @ 8:57am
            mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 8:57am | ! Report

            i was gonna say that i’d be all for having a few aus players in the ITM but when u put it like that biltongbek then nah your correct. maybe itll force ARU to actually get off their a55es and instead of lining their pockets, actually put some money back into australian grass roots rugby

            • Roar Guru

              January 30th 2013 @ 1:51pm
              jeznez said | January 30th 2013 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              Well our NRL develops NZ league players, surely they can return the favour 🙂

              • January 30th 2013 @ 7:46pm
                stillmatic1 said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

                like tamou hey jez!!! worked out well for nz rugby league………….

        • January 30th 2013 @ 4:10pm
          atlas said | January 30th 2013 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

          a reminder that ITM Cup is semi-professional – not attractive to a player in it for the money.
          Season salaries are capped at between NZ$15,000 and $60,000. (AUD 12-48k)
          The cap for each province’s squad salaries was NZ$1.35 million last year. Some ran under $1m for their 30 players.
          Hardly ‘up there’ in pro sport terms.
          For most players it is the peak of their rugby career, playing for their mainly amateur clubs then representing their province. I’d be against using it as more of a training competition for overseas players.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 1:11pm
        Hightackle said | January 30th 2013 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

        You would have to put in 6 Australian teams imo. South Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Gold Coast and North Sydney into the ITM.

    • January 30th 2013 @ 7:12am
      Darwin Stubbie said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:12am | ! Report

      The only way I can see this happening is if the ARU fully fund a player draft and pick up the wagers of those that go to the provinces … Once there however selection would be down to coaching staff … If deemed not good enough they’d be on the pine …. Can’t see it happening – SR is the pro competition and the effort should be made there to improve that – 2016 should be about improving and fixing the flaws evident in the conference and finals system … It should not be about blindly expanding – more of the same (of lesser quality) is the first nail in the coffin

    • January 30th 2013 @ 9:06am
      Rugby Andrew said | January 30th 2013 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Well guys, I did say it was a plan B option in case the ARU can’t get a seniors third tier competition off the ground.
      Secondly, there are 26 provinces in the competition (including the rural-based Heartland championship) so there are teams out there or you can create new ones. NZ rugby is haemoraghing talent to the NRL (and now the AFL wants a bite?)
      In any case, the most likely scenario would involve Aust teams playing in the ITM Cup, a scenario I look at in my next article.

      • January 30th 2013 @ 11:13am
        Nick Cross said | January 30th 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        “NZ rugby is haemorrhaging talent to the NRL”

        Is this true nowadays? I’m struggling to think of a NZ rugby player with any profile who has gone to the NRL recently, apart from SBW who was only on loan from the NRL anyways…

        • January 30th 2013 @ 11:32am
          Rugby Andrew said | January 30th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

          Nick, that may be a slight exaggeration but I’m not talking high profile players. More at the development level where is where future ABs are made — blokes like Konrad Hurrell, Omar Salamankiel (?) and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck had no RL experience until they were signed up by NRL clubs.
          From the sounds of it, the Warriors’s (quoting comments made by Dean Bell last year) have opted for signing up promising rugby players instead of developing their own junior competiton as it would be much cheaper for them.
          Interesting to note the comments made by the Sydney Roosters CEO Brian Canavan about how they want to keep SBW at the club for longer than one season. It sounds like they are considering giving SBW a sabbatical to play NZ rugby for 2014 and 2015 if he returns to the club!

          • January 30th 2013 @ 2:42pm
            Greg said | January 30th 2013 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

            Hurrel and salamankiel would be lucky to ever get a look at a super rugby contract, hardly a huge loss considering the amount of talent coming through

          • January 30th 2013 @ 7:15pm
            Ryan said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

            Matt Duffie at the Storm was also a talented rugby player from St Kentigens

        • January 30th 2013 @ 11:33am
          mania said | January 30th 2013 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          no nick. more accurate to say its a paper cut. sure players go to league but u look at the kiwi’s and its really players rugby can easily get by with out. i dont know of any kiwi league player i would want in my huricanes squad.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 30th 2013 @ 9:28am
      Westie Nomad said | January 30th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Super Rugby in AUS is a flawed product… being that the teams do not invoke tribal fanatisisim that other sports seem to generate, this is partly due to the small participation numbers, lack of free to air TV coverage and also because the game is seen to be elitetist in its roots.
      Aus does not deserve any further expansion spots for the next 10 years atleast, it needs to work on developing its own NPC/Currie Cup style comp before any expansion is even considered.
      However expansion for Super rugby is ineviitable, i believe SANZAR(no accronym for Argies) need to develop a fourth conference for Argentina, If they are to be expected to play as part of a Southern Hemisphere four nations then they should have the same development pathways and potential to earn income at home instead of abroad, but ithink NZ, SA and Aus are scared to give that much to the Argies as they could develop too quickly and potentially overtake them in the long term.
      Also a fifth conference for those other potential participants e.g. USA,Canada, Japan & Pacific Islands.
      If the Super rugby program developed within that frame work e.g. 5 conferences covering 5 continents then the potential for billion dollar TV deals would be very likely send the game into new realms and increasing the sponsorship opportunities astronomically for all SANZAR participating nations.

      • Roar Guru

        January 30th 2013 @ 7:02pm
        Jiggles said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

        Your first paragraph just screams “I have no idea about Australian rugby”

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