Where’s the hype for the new Super Rugby season?

Malcolm Dreaneen Roar Pro

By Malcolm Dreaneen, Malcolm Dreaneen is a Roar Pro

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151 Have your say

    Tom Carter passes wide during a super rugby trial game. AAP Image/Greg Seaton

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    Super Rugby has kicked off again for another season. The competition is often billed as the best rugby competition in the world, but unless you’re an ardent fan, or one with more than a passing interest, you’d hardly know it had started.

    This underwhelming feeling is certainly the case in New Zealand, and it happens year after year. Amazing, considering it’s the so-called ‘home of rugby’.

    Testament to this feeling of being underwhelmed are the poor crowds seen at Wellington and Melbourne, which in my opinion, were a disgrace and should have the administrators running searching for answers.

    The Hurricanes crowd in particular was unacceptable. There is no other word for is. Next month, at Newtown Park in Wellington, there will be a bigger, more raucous and more passionate crowd at the McEvedy Shield game.

    For those of you who don’t know what the McEvedy Shield is, it’s an annual athletics competition between the top four boys’ schools in Wellington (Rongotai College, St. Pat’s Silverstream, St. Pat’s Kilbirnie, and Wellington College).

    Have a look at footage of the competition on Youtube to see what I mean.

    There looks to be a serious disconnect between the Hurricanes’ franchise and its fan base, possibly brought about by the continual failure of the team to win any silverware, although Upton Park (capacity 35,000) still sells out each week despite the fact West Ham United have never won the premiership, nor have they won the FA Cup since 1980.

    There are countless other examples of clubs in various codes across the world who are not successful, but still retain a passionate following – the New Zealand Warriors are a good example of this.

    The Hurricanes’ disconnect has been in place for a number of seasons now, and looks so serious that I don’t think winning any silverware will solve the problem for the franchise.

    I don’t know who is to blame for the crowd, but the Hurricanes are seriously lucky there is no NRL club based in the capital to show them what marketing professional sports is all about, if there were, there wouldn’t be anyone turning up to watch the boys in yellow.

    In any event, the Hurricanes head honchos will get a lesson in the art and science of professional sports marketing later in the year when the AFL juggernaut arrives on ANZAC Day, with the St. Kilda Saints and Sydney Swans game already watering my eyes with anticipation and excitement.

    It’s not as if the Hurricanes don’t have any stars either. Just look at Vito, Conrad Smith, TJ Perenara, the up and coming Brad Shields, Savea and Cory Jane. All of these are highly marketable men, modern day sporting heroes.

    A good number of them are also hallowed All Blacks.

    I think back too, to the Blues and Hurricanes games of old, whether at Eden Park or the Stadium, and always, a crowd of 35,000 was there on hand to watch one of the great rivalries in New Zealand sport, second only in terms of history and passion perhaps to Auckland and Canterbury fixtures (aka Blues vs Crusaders).

    I think about the premier traditional clashes in other sports, such as Collingwood and Carlton, or Rangers and Celtic, or Wigan and St. Helens.

    Would any of these fixtures be anything other than sold out, year after year? Of course not. So why should Super Rugby settle for anything less, especially if it’s supposed to be ‘the world’s best rugby competition’?

    Although I don’t know the exact attendance figure, there looked to be about 5,000 to 10,000 people at the Hurricanes game.

    In a stadium built for 36,000, and in a game that has its roots in a fierce rivalry datng back to the 1880s, the rows upon rows and sections upon sections of empty seats looked disheartening.

    To have so many empty seats was also unbecoming of the title of ‘world’s best rugby competition’. It took the hype out of the season’s commencement.

    Hang on a minute… Did I say the word ‘hype’. What hype?

    Oh, that’s right! There is no hype at the start of a Super Rugby season.

    There never has been, and judging by the last 16 years since the tournament’s inception, it looks like there never will be.

    Any deployment by SANZAR of basic marketing techniques to promote the competition, if they are deploying any techniques at all, is clearly not working. Because as of the morning of 22 February 2013, the day of the Hurricanes and Blues match, no one at my workplace actually knew Super Rugby was starting.

    This unacceptable state of affairs will always be the case as long as the ultra-conservative, male, middle-to-upper-class echelon, who abhor any form of aggressive commercialism in rugby continues to run the game.

    These are the type of blokes who would have difficulty identifying with their teenage children, let alone with the predominantly working class sports supporting public.

    There was a season launch in Auckland for the New Zealand teams, and one in Melbourne for the Australians. The first time I heard about the New Zealand one was on the six o’clock news the same day it happened, two hours after it finished, and I consider myself to have much more than a passing interest in the sport.

    In this context though, the term ‘launch’ is just a flash word for a half-day photo session with captains, coaches and players.

    It’s also the time we get the annual press statement from Greg Peters, the SANZAR CEO detailing the organisation’s aspirations to expand into fresh, lucrative markets, with references to North America and Asia often thrown up for discussion.

    It happens every year.

    If Super Rugby is going to be any kind of success in America, the home and holy grail of professional sports and sporting over-hype, then it seriously needs to get it’s act together in the marketing department.

    In fact, Super Rugby seriously needs to get its act together in this department just to maintain credibility in the Australasian market.

    Everyone knows the real television ratings and crowd numbers in Super Rugby are delivered by the South African segment.

    The fact is, without this powerhouse South African arm, Super Rugby would rank embarrassingly low in the scheme of things in terms of Australasian sports.

    It might be king in New Zealand, but that’s only because the NRL is re-building.

    You get the feeling something big is going to happen in New Zealand soon, with the NRL. Maybe they smell blood.

    The word complacency springs to mind when I think of rugby union nowadays. Besides, any prestige gained from the mantle of being the most popular in New Zealand’s is completely offset by the lack of interest and care for the competition in Australia.

    One way to change this is for the administrators to at least try and make an effort to create anticipation, hype and interest at the start of the season, so that any person, whether he or she be a casual observer of the game or someone more serious about it, is under no illusions that Super Rugby is about to start.

    Contrast this with the approach of the brilliant AFL and NRL.

    In the AFL you have the draft and pre-season NAB Cup. The NRL has the All Stars Game, the World Club Challenge, the Charity Shield, the Foundation Cup, and pre-season fixtures.

    The latter are increasingly being televised in their own right and drawing crowds and television viewers, as can be seen in the Warriors and Broncos match in Dunedin last night. It was shown live on television, and it’s just a pre-season match. A good crowd of nearly 17,000 showed up to watch.

    The AFL and NRL are also masters at using the media and headlines to arouse interest. That’s fair dinkum, because that is what professional sports is about.

    The NRL has also run a series of excellent TV ads in New Zealand promoting club memberships. The Warriors have advertised extensively on the New Zealand Herald web site for weeks. Their ads are always popping up on Facebook too, as well as on radio.

    There will also be serious promotion both on a national and local scale by the NRL and its partners in the build up to Round One.

    All this means is that by the start of both the NRL and AFL competitions, excitement is at fever pitch, a crescendo of anticipation has been created and is about to explode, and the vast majority of seats to most fixtures will be sold, while millions more will watch on TV.

    There is the odd shining example in rugby. For example, it’s no surprise the Reds got 35,000 to their grudge match with the Warratahs, despite their limp opening game against the Brumbies.

    This is because the Reds are one of the few, if not the only, Super Rugby outfits that actually knows how to market their team and, dare I say it, ‘hype’ them up.

    They are the only ones who make the effort and because of this they get 35,000 to every game. They think and act like an NRL club. They agitate and never take anything for granted.

    They owe a lot to Jim Carmichael, who is to me, the greatest rugby administrator in the professional era. He understands this game we’re in, and the people his team needs to connect with in order to deliver 35,000 per game, like the Hurricanes used to.

    There is an aversion in rugby union circles to ‘marketing hype’, which I put down to the ultra-conservative, but out-dated, nature of its administrators.

    But for me, this lack of hype shows a lack of care for the fans. It’s a refusal to get excited about the game, yet they expect, nay demand, ordinary blokes like me get excited about it.

    It’s like paying top dollar to go to a fancy restaurant only to have the waiter throw down a plate of cold steak and uncooked chips while saying ‘eat what you’re given, and to hell with you if you don’t like it.’

    The rugby administrators could at least show some care and concern by packaging and promoting Super Rugby more carefully and professionally, like the AFL and NRL and any other half decent sports competitions around the world.

    If the administrators cared, then we would too. Our enthusiasm (as fans) is a direct reflection of their enthusiasm which is expressed on a mass market scale through hype.

    And the sooner rugby administrators understand that basic cornerstone of professional sports, the better.

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    The Crowd Says (151)

    • February 26th 2013 @ 4:08am
      kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 4:08am | ! Report

      I agree with the them of this article.

      There’s nor reason whatsoever the Hurricanes or Rebels shouldn’t draw good crowds.

      They are both in large areas and have access to good players.

      Both are badly run and in the case of the Rebels recruit badly.

      A good point is made in the article about weak promotion.

      Many problems in Super rugby are based on badly run, coached, recruited and promoted franchises.

      • Roar Pro

        February 26th 2013 @ 12:51pm
        Malcolm Dreaneen said | February 26th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        Thanks KPM, I agree with your observations re Rebels and Hurricanes.

      • February 27th 2013 @ 11:18am
        blues recovery said | February 27th 2013 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        What an absolute rubbish comment. What do you base the comment on that the Rebels are badly run and recruit poorly. In an AFL mad town they manage to draw better crowds than the Melbourne Storm despite the Storms history of on field performnce.
        Their is no other Super Rugby team including the Force that operates in a city where Rugby is so far down the citys sporting radar. I think they are doing an amzing job so far to promote their game considering the lack of on field success at the moment. The atmosphere at their games surpasses any other in Australian Rugby.
        In terms of their rcruitment , Hugh Pyle, Caderyn Neville, Luke Jones, Nick Phipps and Nick Stirzaker will all be Wallabies bor and bread out of the Rebels recruitment and development program.

        • Roar Guru

          February 27th 2013 @ 12:23pm
          Ben of Phnom Penh said | February 27th 2013 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          I tend to agree here. In WA and SA union is more popular than league, however in Vic it is much further down the ladder of public interest.

          • May 17th 2013 @ 12:11pm
            Scoot said | May 17th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

            well how come they get more people to a rebels match than a storm and the storm are winning but the rebels are not

    • Roar Guru

      February 26th 2013 @ 4:19am
      biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 4:19am | ! Report

      I can’t say that there is much in terms of hype for the Super XV in SA, apart from Supersport doing some pre season ads.

      But on the weekend our games drew decent crowds, Loftus had over 40 000 spectators, Durban was around 35 000 from memory and even the Kings had a decent crowd of a tad over 30 000.

      • February 26th 2013 @ 6:16am
        mania said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:16am | ! Report

        biltongbek – take your crowd numbers and divide them by 10 and those are the kind of numbers to be expected at NZ games. we have a small population so theres no way we should be expected to fill the stadium for every game. esp a local derby that i really cant be bothered watching. if i were to go watch a game it would be my canes playing , stormers , bulls or QLD. the only derby i’d pay to go see would be vs crusdaers
        ticket prices arent cheap. theres an article in the Wellington newspaper yesterday stating that to make every game and have a burger and a drink it would cost you NZ$50-80 per game per person, regardless of whether they’re an adult or child. so for me and my kids that would be $150 to $240 for a 2 hour spectacle. so the cost is prohibitive (vs staying @ home with a bucket of KFC and dozen beers) but also the time the games are played is not good for taking my kids. 7.30pm to 9.30pm is a late night for my kids + putting up with commuting or driving in with the nightmares of parking or walking to and from the train station.
        as any parent will tell you going out with kids is a mission that requires careful logistics planning. going to a super game with kids an excercise of stress.

        • Roar Guru

          February 26th 2013 @ 6:22am
          biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:22am | ! Report

          Mania in SA tickets aren’t that expensive.

          A typical ticket would cost around R100 – R 120, a Burger would cost about R40, a beer roughly R25 so per person (substitute the beer for a colddrink for the kids,) so in total if you had a couple of drinks a total of R200 to R240 per person.

          For a family of four not more than R900 which is about half of what you would spend in NZ

          • February 26th 2013 @ 6:34am
            mania said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:34am | ! Report

            its the price we pay for such a small population and a country so far away from anywhere. SA can afford to have low prices because your market share is huge. 10% of your market would probably be the equivalent of 50-80% of ours.
            everything in NZ is more expensive comparatively to other nations.
            i love rugby but i’m not about to try to singlehandedly finance it myself. $150 – $240 can go a long way to buying other stuff that that i need more. my boys are due some new football boots for the upcoming season so thats one game of watching the canes in a meaningless derby game to go towards that.

            • February 26th 2013 @ 7:10am
              nickoldschool said | February 26th 2013 @ 7:10am | ! Report

              Every time i visit NZ i see that prices are way lower than oz but your salaries are also much lower too and talking to ppl who live in your city, i realised that the gap between our salaries and yours has been increasing big time in the last few years. So yes mania, i understand that going to the stadium has a cost for a family. i remember paying nzd20 5-6 ago to watch rugby there and its apparently not the case anymore.

              another reason imo why Welly doesnt go much to the stadium is that it is simply one of the best places to hang around, have a drink or feed out in the town. rugby is victim of the great pub and dining culture of the city imo. hope the canes do well mate.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 7:17am
                mania said | February 26th 2013 @ 7:17am | ! Report

                yes nos. totally agree. the culture adds a blase ness to wellingtonians, but scratch the surface and theres a canes supporter.
                NZ$20 might get you a cheap seat behind the goal posts but i doubt it these days.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 7:22am
                Johnno said | February 26th 2013 @ 7:22am | ! Report

                mani on this subject about affordability of lifestyle in NZ, how much would a 3-bedroom house in say middle class Dunedin cost in NZ these days a general guide.

                Or a 3-bedroom house in a middle class suburb in Hamilton.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 7:29am
                mania said | February 26th 2013 @ 7:29am | ! Report

                not sure of the dunedin and hamilton markets but in wellington however u can get a nice house in a nice neighbourhood 15-20 minutes outside fo wellington, 3 bedrooms for $350 – 450K.
                last time i was in aus i checked out housing prices and for the equivalent aus houses tended to be 50-70K cheaper for the equivalent imo. house prices in aus are cheaper but then you have more of the supply to sustain such a big nation.
                food and petrol was also real cheap

              • February 26th 2013 @ 7:36am
                Johnno said | February 26th 2013 @ 7:36am | ! Report

                Mania housing prices maybe cheaper in coutnry towns, and regional towns of Australia but in the big major cities, Sydney,Brisbane.melbourne, Canberra,Adelaide,Perth, becoming a real rip off. You won’t find a house in sydney much now in a middle class suburb for under $600,000, start up price, it’s a rip off sydney real estate.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 7:41am
                mania said | February 26th 2013 @ 7:41am | ! Report

                sorry johnno, yes your right of course. i wasnt checking inner city prices and all my house watching was looking at housing equivalent to my own home, ie outside of the innercity, nice neighbourhood, 3-4 bedrooms, big backyard.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 7:55am
                pogo said | February 26th 2013 @ 7:55am | ! Report

                Auckland’s average house price is over $600,000 now (including outlying areas I believe, not just inner city). Realtive to income I think it’s still cheaper than sydney.

                $350,000 will get you a 2 bedroom unit out in kelston.

                Blues vs Crusaders on friday is $20 though

              • February 26th 2013 @ 9:20am
                Justin2 said | February 26th 2013 @ 9:20am | ! Report

                pogo Melbourne’s median price is a fraction under that yet I assume from all the commentary on wages that this would mean Melbourne is somewhat more affordable than Auckland.

            • February 27th 2013 @ 9:01am
              Reality said | February 27th 2013 @ 9:01am | ! Report

              Does anybody know if that $420 (silver) family membership includes tickets or is it just “reserved” so you always have your seat???

              • February 27th 2013 @ 9:22am
                formeropenside said | February 27th 2013 @ 9:22am | ! Report

                That should include tickets to every home game, and the right to finals seats should the Reds get there.

              • February 27th 2013 @ 1:13pm
                Reality said | February 27th 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

                So for the price of two/three canes games, Reds fans get eight games, plus free public transport, and a collection of supporters gear, including an “Exclusive “QC10” t-shirt designed by Quade Cooper”!
                No wonder the reds have a solid turn out for each home game, it must be the T-shirt!!

        • February 26th 2013 @ 10:32am
          Elisha Pearce said | February 26th 2013 @ 10:32am | ! Report

          I wrote an article about rugby pricing. It’s horrible in Australia and sounds like the Canes have gone down the same route with their pricing.
          At the Chiefs home grounds they have much fuller venues and cheaper tickets. Does anyone know if they’re going broke? I haven’t heard that. Yes, the grounds are smaller and therefore should be easier to fill but you’ve gotta balance that with a smaller population spread over a larger area in the Chiefs catchment area too.

          Great article overall Malcolm, I agree with the majority of it. Keep expressing how you feel. If enough people do the sentiment will be heard loud and clear.

        • February 26th 2013 @ 1:22pm
          atlas said | February 26th 2013 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

          Auckland/Blues – have a ‘True Blues’ ticket scheme, starting at a NZ$65 card ($40 for child) that gives entry to any four home matches (at Eden Park or North Harbour) this season, a draw for tickets/flights etc to see Blues Waratahs in Sydney, also go into the draw for a new car courtesy of sponsor Hyundai.
          Cheapest seats for Hurricanes are NZ$25, up to $55 for ‘platinum’. They have an ‘Easter Family Special’ 30 March for Hurricanes v Kings -of $40 for 2 adults plus children.

          • February 26th 2013 @ 1:31pm
            nickoldschool said | February 26th 2013 @ 1:31pm | ! Report

            Very good deals IMO.

          • February 26th 2013 @ 6:45pm
            On or said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

            I had a true blues season pass last year… From memory I think it was 190 for the season! Not including finals. I went to the ab’s v Ireland last year and that cost me 70.00 for a ticket behind the football posts! I lived in Wellington and can guarantee you and every bar, pub fast food joint with a T.V would have been playing the hurricanes game! Facts are.. Ticket prices are high, night games are sometimes inconvenient, most followers pay for sky! And you can go to any bar in the city to watch the game! If its a Friday game it will be delayed on free to air.

      • Roar Pro

        February 26th 2013 @ 11:16am
        Malcolm Dreaneen said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Thanks Biltongbek – you can see how Super Rugby is being pulled up by the SA conference, and the Reds.

    • February 26th 2013 @ 4:38am
      kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 4:38am | ! Report

      biltong if South African rugby had a model with 10 teams what do you think the average crowds would be if the teams were relatively even in strength?

      • Roar Guru

        February 26th 2013 @ 5:19am
        biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:19am | ! Report

        Difficult to say KPM, I suppose you have to consider where these ten teams will operate from.

        If you take the obvious six in Pretoria, Capetown, Durban, Bloemfontein, JHB and PE then perhaps Rustenburg, Welkom, Pietersburg and perhaps Boland area.

        The top 6 should average the same as now around minimum 30000 and the others at least 20000.

        Its a guess though.

        • February 26th 2013 @ 5:45am
          kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:45am | ! Report

          biltong wouldn’t SA rugby then be extremely rich from gigantic TV deals given the doubling of the market, and having double the number of playing places provide the capacity to allow the huge SA playing number to come through, thereby leading to many more good players emerging?

          • Roar Guru

            February 26th 2013 @ 5:49am
            biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:49am | ! Report

            Yes I think. So, I actually answered johnno on another article, I would actually like if we stepped out of Super rugby and concentrated on expanding our Currie Cup during this time of the year.

            More time, more matches, more teams, better spread of revenue.

            • February 26th 2013 @ 5:54am
              kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:54am | ! Report

              Biltong there are good arguments for that but let’s say for the sake of argument that Super rugby stayed together.

              Wouldn’t it still be better if the model involved double the quantity of teams for the reasons described?

              If it were done across all three countries the teams would maintain their evenness of strength.

              • Roar Guru

                February 26th 2013 @ 6:01am
                biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:01am | ! Report

                Kpm the only way I see Super rugby being good for SA is if it is shortened, Sheeks idea has some merit.

                However the way I see Super Rugby being able to give SA what it needs without complicating the issue is three countries, thre conferences (it already exists)

                Each country decide how many teams they want in their conference ( a maximum must be stipulated, but each country can get to that number in their own time)

                Have the conferences play a closed round robin.

                Only the top 3 teams to progress, they carry over to the super 9’s their log points earned during the Pool rounds and then play the other six franchises in a single rond robin.

                The top four play semi finals and finals.

                If for argument sake there are 8 trams per conference as you suggest, then it means the pool round will take 7 weeks. Then another 6 weeks for the super 9’s and finals.

                If this format is not to the liking of NZ or OZ, then I would prefer us going on our own.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 6:10am
                kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:10am | ! Report

                Ok biltong what you say is interesting, but just following the argument I’m bringing forth which isn’t necessarily about what should be in an ideal world: if things didn’t change from the way they are at the moment, don’t you think even within the existing format it would be better if it were based on each country having double the current number of teams for the reasons given?

              • Roar Guru

                February 26th 2013 @ 6:14am
                biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:14am | ! Report

                Can’t see how it will work KPM, you can’t lengthen the tournament, so in essence you will have ten teams in each conference but not more games. So now you have to split the revenue between double the number of teams?

              • February 26th 2013 @ 6:16am
                kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:16am | ! Report

                biltong you would rejig the number of games until everyone agreed and there weren’t any more than there are now.

                You would split the revenue amongst more teams, but there would be vastly more given the huge increase in markets covered and quantity of product.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 6:56am
                kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:56am | ! Report

                My point is this Biltong. Maybe it’s not ideal for Super rugby to continue or not, but just assuming for argument’s sake it does, I think with more teams it would be better for the reasons suggested.

                Also I think a semi and final should be added in each conference with each having their trophy for winning.

              • Roar Guru

                February 26th 2013 @ 8:24am
                biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 8:24am | ! Report

                KPM, the way I see it is the only reason Superrugby has expanded is for more games which in turn brings more money.

                I can’t see that more games can be added, hence more teams will dillute revenue.

                Bigger market?


              • February 26th 2013 @ 8:55am
                kingplaymaker said | February 26th 2013 @ 8:55am | ! Report

                biltong, without expanding the number of games each team has to play, with more teams there are still more games.

                If there are 10 teams playing 20 games each, you have more games than if there are 5 teams playing 5 games each.

                Then the broadcasters pay much more for more product: hence why the NRL and AFL get three times more from their TV deals than rugby in Australia does from its segment of Super rugby.

                They also pay more for big markets such as Melbourne, Johannesburg, any large city.

                So all of this produces more money.

                To do this you rejig the fixture list, only playing a cross-section of the international teams or in pools: you can vastly increase the number of games offered to the broadcaster WITHOUT making each team play more games.

    • February 26th 2013 @ 4:56am
      allblackfan said | February 26th 2013 @ 4:56am | ! Report

      When the biggest crowds are reserved for the local derbies, that says a lot about the competition (for RSA and NZ teams anyway).
      Wellington stadium may simply be too big to fill; the Hurricanes are looking at playing elsewhere.
      In any case, having just spent 2 weeks in New Zealand, understatement is part of the NZ pysche. They don’t “talk the talk” so much as go straight to “walk the talk” (which would help explains why the Reds euphoria at their 2011 win got up Kiwi noses).
      NZ games being perpetually confined to twilight or night kickoff times doesn’t help either. Can you guys tell me when was the last time a NZ Super game was played in the afternoon? (And no, Forsyth Barr Stadium doesn’t count!!)

      • Roar Pro

        February 26th 2013 @ 11:27am
        Malcolm Dreaneen said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Thanks for your comment AB Fan, but I disagree with your statement that ‘Wgtn Stadium may be too big to fill’. For many years, probably for the first decade of Super Rugby, the average Hurricanes crowd was easily 20K+, and certainly for an opening game against the Blues, you could count on 35,000 turning up. There’s nothing wrong with the stadium, it’s just that none of those tens of thousands of Hurricanes fans are being inspired enough to want to turn up. I’m not saying every game should have a crowd of 30k+ turning up, but where you have the first game of the season, against an old rival with a number of current and ex ABs on the field, if you can’t get 35K to the park for that game, then something is seriously wrong. In my opinion, what is wrong is the fact that rugby administrators haven’t got a clue about hyping the competition up, because their very nature makes them conservative, when if you are trying to sell thousands of tickets, conservatism is not an option.

        • February 26th 2013 @ 6:57pm
          On or said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

          Yes well!! In the first decade of super rugby … The canes had guys like Cullen.. Lomu.. And umanga… Bull allen.. And the other nz teams also had iconic players.. The nzru have beein in rebuild phase after so many players have gone overseas!!! the NZRU could make an absolute fortune if it ditches super rugby by playing test serious in Europe!! More focus on internationals!!

    • February 26th 2013 @ 5:00am
      Johnno said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:00am | ! Report

      You men wanna know the honest truth , and I don’t enjoy saying this, but i have enjoyed the French top 14 more than super rugby 2013, it’s as simple as that. The colour, the foreign imports, the strong blend of french rugby/ intermixed with global rugby cultures and there intellectual properties..

      – I enjoyed watching the Melbourne rebels, and Gareth delve(wales), and the Japan player. Just the various styles.

      -The A-league soccer with it’s global attitude, and continental and cosmopolitan style, players coming from Italy to Germany, to Iraq, to Japan, to New Zealand , all he different players in each squad bringing the Intellectual property of soccer cultures from there countries.

      -Rugby in France in the domestic comp offers that global experience, as does England, Wales, Ireland,Italy.

      And it’s domestic there playing for something, not in a regular season comp in Africa in silly timezones, that you can’t watch the match live coz it’s on so late, and the sheer vast geographic distance “we’re talking other side of the world here people” means it’s so hard to relate too.

      -Save the global event and festival for the World Cup that’s what it’s there for but no regular season stuff.

      -Keep it in your own country and continent eg Asian champions league in soccer which Australian teams enter, or European teams.

      -I hope super rugby doesn’t expand to USA I am not looking forwad to Auckland VS Chicago.

      -Give me Auckland VS Otago any day of the week over Auckland VS Chicago. Or Cape Town VS Vancouver , highlighting, just how obscure and stupid this super rugby expansion ideas by SANZAR are.

      • Roar Guru

        February 26th 2013 @ 5:21am
        biltongbek said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:21am | ! Report

        Johnno, with all due respect mate, you need to get over this foreigner obsession of yours.

        Let the big money tycoons buy foreign players, let us in the SH produce local talent. It has kept us at 1,2,3 for the majority of time, no need to fix something that ain’t broken.

        • February 26th 2013 @ 6:48am
          mania said | February 26th 2013 @ 6:48am | ! Report

          totally agree biltongbek . after all, SH must be doing something right to be at the top of the rankings

        • February 26th 2013 @ 5:29pm
          Johnno said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

          biltongbek I agree mate you make a good point, but a few imports I think do help a comp. Different styles of rugby, and allowing playing standards maintained.

          Example Freddy Michalek at the sharks, i don’t think the sharks would of gone as far as they did with out a 5/8 of Michalek standard once Lambie was injured .

          Surely a few imports would help.

          SARU rules are at present 2 imports per super rugby team.

          Kings have a few, Stormers have 1 Canadian no 8 Jebb Sinclair he is not bad.

          The big money tycoons are buying foreign players, and there feasting on South African more than anywhere just about.

      • Roar Pro

        February 26th 2013 @ 11:30am
        Malcolm Dreaneen said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        You’ve hit the nail on the head Johnno. I too love the French Top 14, for its passion, history, excitement and colour.

      • February 26th 2013 @ 3:58pm
        NicolasPA said | February 26th 2013 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

        I dont know Johnno what are you talking about.
        Im from Argentina, we have lot of players playing in France; but here ALL the people who watch rugby said French Top14 is extremlly boring. Here all the rugby funs prefer 10 times more super rugby than european rugby.
        I dont understand how you dont appreciate what you have.

        I would love to have an Argentinian team in Super Rugby but thats not going to happend.

        • February 26th 2013 @ 4:36pm
          Johnno said | February 26th 2013 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

          NcolasPA it’s all a matter of opinion.

          Like in soccer some prefer the English premier league, some fans prefer Spanish La Liga, others prefer the German Bundesliga, others prefer Italy Serie A, I like the English premier league my self.

          So it’s all a matter of opinion what sports comps fans prefer. You prefer super rugby and i like super rugby, I prefer French Top 14 currently.

          And I would debate that NicolasPA, fans in Argentina what they prefer, I have seen many Argentina rugby websites, and many of them have far larger content of French Top 14, and fans following top 14 clubs than super rugby clubs. Maybe becoz more Argentina players play in Europe. But you maybe only hang around other Argentina people who prefer super rugby, but i have met Argentina people who love French Top 14, and recently not 10 years ago, like 6 months ago. So all subjective like soccer a matter of opinion.

          Many basketball fans prefer college basketball, to the NBA, or Euro basket to the NBA, each comps have there own cultures, and different rules.

          For example the shot clock in college basketballs 35 seconds, NBA is 24 seconds, you get then a very different style of basketball. Both entertaining. Defence is played harder in college ball and rewarded more, and less fast breaks it’s a slower style, but still very exciting, and big man still have a big prescence in college basketball, not everyone playing like a guard as is the NBA becoz it’s got so fast due to the 24 second shot clock. Some want the NBA to go a 30 second shot cloak.

          All these things and whats entertaining is a matter of opinion , from one fan or groups of fans to the next NicolasPA. But l like super rugby to mate, just prefer French Top 14 currently.

    • February 26th 2013 @ 5:22am
      Justin2 said | February 26th 2013 @ 5:22am | ! Report

      Why did they ever build a round oval for a rugby ground? Worst thing you could ever do.

      I wouldn’t point fingers at the rebels, nsw have far poorer crowds if you think logically.

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