NRC needs tradition to survive

sheek Roar Guru

By sheek, sheek is a Roar Guru

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    If Pulver won't explain, then he should fall on his sword. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    I apologise. Indeed I apologise most humbly.

    In several recent articles on the upcoming likely makeup of the teams in the proposed NRC, I have been deeply passionate, perhaps too passionate, about maintaining some kind of history, some kind of tradition, some kind of tribalism.

    Huh! What an idiot. Little do I appreciate this is the instant gratification society.

    Computer doesn’t work? Get another one. TV on the blink? Buy a new one. Mobile phone busted? Upgrade to the new model. New car? Easy. New washing machine? Easy. New this? Easy. New that? Easy. Disposable income society. Check!

    Twelve months ago – January 2013 – you would have struggled to get a majority support for a national comp in rugby union.

    We’re doing okay just as we are. We punch above our weight. Too expensive. Not enough players. Why copy New Zealand or South Africa? And on it goes.

    Then a new CEO of the ARU arrives – Bill Pulver – who announces a reprisal of the old ARC, now to be called the NRC. The bandwagon couldn’t fill quickly enough.

    Now, 12 months on, there is a bandwagon of millions of rugby fans declaring a national comp “must happen”, as if they’ve all believed it themselves for years and years.

    The killer reason why we shouldn’t have a national comp was that manufactured teams don’t work.

    Really? R-E-A-L-L-Y?

    Anyone looked at BBL lately?

    Eight manufactured teams. Eight totally manufactured teams.

    Eight teams that have no relationship whatsoever with their place of origin apart from the city name. The nicknames are meaningless and the colours have no relationship whatsoever historically, traditionally or otherwise, with their franchises.

    But it is apparently going gangbusters. It’s rating itself silly on TV. It’s entertainment, and that’s all that counts.

    It’s helping to fill the otherwise material rich, but soul poor world in which we presently inhabit.

    Here’s silly old me lecturing the ARU that the 8-10 teams they select for the NRC should have some meaning. That they should have some connection with the past, i.e., history, tradition, tribalism.

    Silly, silly me.

    The NRC will probably be a mish-mash of joint ventures and stand alone EOIs and guess what, it won’t matter one iota.

    As long as they throw the ball around and send the ratings skyward, they can call themselves whatever they want.

    And play in hot pink and gerkin for all the world cares.

    Fox Sports is only interested in getting a return on their investment and filling their programming quota.

    I reckon even Sydney Convicts could get a run, if they show the money up front. Who cares?

    I reckon even the Alexandria Dukes, Dundas Valley, Manly Savers or Sydney Grammar Old Boys can get a gig in the NRC providing they have the appropriate wealthy benefactor/s.

    Who are they, you ask? Oh, just the sixth division of Sydney Suburban Rugby, the Meldrum Cup.

    I apologise most, most humbly for having the temerity to think people even cared about the history and tradition of their past.

    A former rugby lock, cricket no.11 bat and no.10 bowler, and surfboat rower. A fan of the major team sports in Australia.

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    The Crowd Says (137)

    • Roar Guru

      January 12th 2014 @ 6:52am
      no show said | January 12th 2014 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      It will be interesting to see if the short term success of the BBL can be continued in the long term.

      I think that the teams lack of identity will hurt the BBL in the long run. Will fans stick around to watch a team if it has a new roster every year and the team is unrecognisable to the one they followed last year? I don’t think so.

      The NRC is better of having teams with some tradition and identity behind them.

      • January 12th 2014 @ 9:56am
        Matt F said | January 12th 2014 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        BBL lists are actually pretty stable and player movement is substantially less than what was predicted at the start. I don’t think their turnover is any more than standard NRL and AFL sides in general

        • Roar Rookie

          January 12th 2014 @ 10:47am
          Stray Gator said | January 12th 2014 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Just checking: BBL – we’re talking about the Bendigo Basketball League, right?

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2014 @ 2:04pm
            no show said | January 12th 2014 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

            Yes. It’s been going good this year.

            • January 13th 2014 @ 1:51am
              yankee_rob said | January 13th 2014 @ 1:51am | ! Report

              What is the difference between the Bendigo Basketball League and National Basketball league?

              • January 13th 2014 @ 6:42pm
                Matt F said | January 13th 2014 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

                Bendigo Basketball League sides have a longer life expectancy

              • January 14th 2014 @ 10:08am
                Kasey said | January 14th 2014 @ 10:08am | ! Report

                I’m a cricket fan (SACA Member) and I resisted going to a Strikers game for so long because I didn’t want to give CA further reason to ignore the long and in my mind ‘real’ form of the game further. Well my SACA membership gets me into the BBL with a scan of the card so when a mate messaged me asking if I wanted to join him as he took his kid to the Strikers game last week I thought why not, what harm can it be?

                Almost against my will, I found myself actually enjoying the crass American-ness of the experience (but then I do like American Sports in general)

                The canned music, the Basketball-like DJ-ing of ‘crowd involvement sounds’ and yes, even the game itself.

                The home team lost, but it was still an enjoyable night out. I can see why there were a lot of families (even more than I see at A-League games) in attendance. With CAs money behind it and ch10 onboard, I have changed my mind and now can see the BBL not only surviving but thriving in the short and medium term.

                Will it be a danger to football’s A-League?? I don’t think so, while both are enjoyable nights out, the ‘feeling’ in the stadium is very different for football than it is for BBL. People will gravitate towards the sport that scratches the itch they have at the time.

                Want a more adversarial antagonistic footy-like crowd? The A-League for you…want a more carnival-like night out?? BBL is your pony.

      • January 12th 2014 @ 2:15pm
        Kasey said | January 12th 2014 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

        The past is what has happened. History is how we record/lionise it. Tradition is borne of history and will come with time. For example it’s now become a tradition in the A-League for
        the Mariners to host a NYE game with fireworks for the Gosford community.
        Opinion writers like Bec Wilson to write at least one poison pen piece on the downfall of Sokkah per season. It just wouldn’t be the same without her.

        Only Adelaide, Perth and Newcastle came into the A-League with a ‘history’ they haven’t been that successful in the last 9 years.

        I have my doubts about the NRC, but as I’m not a rugby fan my opinion isn’t the one Mr Pulver is after even if my eyeballs are desired!

        • Roar Guru

          January 12th 2014 @ 5:30pm
          no show said | January 12th 2014 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

          Your comment is now history 🙂

    • January 12th 2014 @ 7:19am
      Sandgroper said | January 12th 2014 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Hey Sheek,
      Nice to hear that all tradition , history and the world in particular emanates from the geographic centre of the universe….Sydney!
      Your article is good up to the point that those of us with long Rugby ancestry but not living east of the Blue Mountains and south of Pittwater feel totally disenfranchised. We don’t begrudge Sydney’s point of origin claim, but it would be positive to acknowledge that other places in this Commonwealth of Australia have the right to play and support Rugby.

      Does the National concept scare Sydney Rugby?

      • Roar Guru

        January 12th 2014 @ 10:40am
        sheek said | January 12th 2014 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        Hi Sandgroper,

        I do think those who are Sydney-centric minded are scared of losing “control” of the resources of rugby.

        But my article is more about the general nonchalance of team name dropping, which is more ‘hip’ & less relevant to anything specific to location.

        • January 13th 2014 @ 6:06pm
          Magic Sponge said | January 13th 2014 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

          Lets send all the control to Hobart, somewhere neutral or adelaide or melbourne, lets ignore the masses of rugby supporters.

          • January 13th 2014 @ 8:37pm
            AndyS said | January 13th 2014 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

            You mean all those supporters that didn’t bother attending the ARC and have barely better attendances than Canberra for SR…?

            • January 13th 2014 @ 10:29pm
              Magic Sponge said | January 13th 2014 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

              I’ll just watch the tests matches and club games for the easts beasts and the mighty roosters, none of this meaningless third tiered crap . More power to the clubs and less to Pulver and the growing admin team. What a waste of resources.

              • January 13th 2014 @ 10:40pm
                AndyS said | January 13th 2014 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

                Which would seem to put you in good company based on the last time. It is why I think it is presumptuous to assume Sydney deserves more than one team, regardless of where the players originate. The teams need to be where people will watch them and that certainly wasn’t Sydney last time around. They should prove there is support for one team first, then think about expanding later.

      • January 12th 2014 @ 3:37pm
        kunming tiger said | January 12th 2014 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

        Spot on plus ten, full mark!

        Strong Rugby franchises stacked with fans and players from blue collar backgrounds west and south of Sydney scare the living daylights out of the tradionalists. God forbid if they drag the game made in heaven down with them.

        • January 12th 2014 @ 6:16pm
          Reality said | January 12th 2014 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

          That has always been the fear of the rugby establishment in Aus and England. The fear of losing control of the game overrides doing what is best for the game.
          I hoped after 95 that would change , but its a slow process !

          • January 12th 2014 @ 11:45pm
            Millsy said | January 12th 2014 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

            1895 or 1995 not sure of the century.

    • January 12th 2014 @ 7:41am
      Gurudoright said | January 12th 2014 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      Nice rant! I far as I know most people have wanted an ARC/NRC since 2007 when the last one got canned. It was only Jon and his board who looked at the financial figures of that first season and crapped themselves that didn’t want to go on. The ARC lost about $7m in its first year with no wallabies playing, by about the 4th season it was projected to break even and a profit by the 5th.
      I loved the Rams, despite being a supporter of Warringah for over 20 years( I grew up and live out in Western Sydney but the first live rugby game I saw involved Warringah). It felt like a team represented me, just like the Wanderers have for many in the west. I loved the name, the colour of the Rams. I even loved the name of the Fleet and the Colours. The ARU should just bring back the original teams(just give the Qld teams a better names) move the Fleet to the south side of the harbour, have the Stringrays play out of NSO or Brookie and add a Central Coast or Newcastle team. Perfect

    • Roar Rookie

      January 12th 2014 @ 7:44am
      Stray Gator said | January 12th 2014 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      I for one am looking forward to seeing the lads turn out in gherkin.

    • January 12th 2014 @ 7:59am
      Rugby fan said | January 12th 2014 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Nice dummy spit. Not surprising considering the ‘my way or the highway’ tone of your boringly repetitive posts on this topic over the past 3 years or more.

      Yes others might have a different view than you! Oh the temerity!!

      • Roar Guru

        January 12th 2014 @ 10:41am
        sheek said | January 12th 2014 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        Rugby fan – thanks for dropping by…

        I certainly have strong opinions & am not afraid to express them. I do believe there’s a better world that isn’t motivated simply by money alone.

        If that’s a fault I’m happy to wear it.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 12th 2014 @ 10:57am
          Stray Gator said | January 12th 2014 @ 10:57am | ! Report

          On a slightly serious note, Sheek, are you hearing things from the ARU and/Fox about the NRC’s likely makeup that we in poor old rugby-starved Melbourne are not privy to?

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2014 @ 12:44pm
            sheek said | January 12th 2014 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

            No Gaor, I have no prior knowledge.

        • January 12th 2014 @ 11:11am
          Rugby fan said | January 12th 2014 @ 11:11am | ! Report

          It’s not about being ‘motivated by money’ but being realistic about the need to have just enough to make this thing happen year after year.

          Rugby is a niche sport with limited funds and currently falling crowds, revenues and broadcast opportunities.

          If it wasn’t for anti-siphoning legislation all rugby would be locked away on pay TV.

          Every rugby fan should consider that next time they hear a govt wants to review them.

          We should feel lucky if we can get 8 sustainable teams. Your aspirations just seem to leave you disappointed each time they aren’t met.

          • January 12th 2014 @ 12:28pm
            hog said | January 12th 2014 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

            And you have never asked yourself why Rugby is a niche sport in this country.

            • January 12th 2014 @ 12:53pm
              Rugby fan said | January 12th 2014 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

              It’s obvious why it’s a niche sport. The NRC certainly isn’t the vehicle for trying to overcome that.

              • January 12th 2014 @ 1:08pm
                hog said | January 12th 2014 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

                Rugby Union is a niche sport in this country because for 17 years now we have aligned ourselves to a competition that unfortunately for the ARU 90% of the population are simply not interested in.
                I agree with you on one thing yes the NRC will not change that.

              • January 12th 2014 @ 4:05pm
                Football United said | January 12th 2014 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

                ^yep, Moving straight into Super Rugby after professionalism started has proven to be a poor move in the long run

              • January 12th 2014 @ 6:32pm
                onetruegame said | January 12th 2014 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

                Hog, Football United and Rob9.
                Now we are getting close to the real motivation for the new comp.
                Of course it’s on Fox, but if it gains traction, it can offer real competition to Super15 and contribute to Wallaby stocks without the current dependence on SR.
                If SR ended this year or next where would NZ or SA be? In similar though different positions.

                But Oz rugby would be list without SR.
                Pulver’s plan is to break our dependency on it.

              • January 12th 2014 @ 4:51pm
                Rob9 said | January 12th 2014 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

                I think it was good to transition the game into professionalism but it’s now well past it’s used by date. It served its purpose but it needed to evolve, preferably into a broader and further reaching second tier involving NZ and not the geographically and culturally distant SA. It should have happened around the turn of the century or even after the 03′ RWC when there were those gold rivers that we could splash around in to springboard into something like this.

                A third tier might help our structure look like our more successful SANZAR partners on the surface but the game will remain practically invisible on the Australian sporting landscape and therefor it’s impact on our performance levels will be limited. I’d expect there will be a slight improvement in this area but certainly not enough to justify the costs.

                If we want to see real change and gains in Australian rugby, the second tier has to come under the microscope.

        • January 12th 2014 @ 1:30pm
          Tane Mahuta said | January 12th 2014 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          Sheek is just one of those “back in my day, things were better” kind of guys that laments anything new and the loss of the old.

          I agree it is boring and frustrating but maybe we will be like that one day.

          I personally think that you can create tradition, infact I know you can.

          Most things have improved but we take it for granted and only notice that which weve lost.

          P.S. I hate the saying “gangbusters” and “great guns”.

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2014 @ 1:59pm
            sheek said | January 12th 2014 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

            Tane Mahuta,

            Of course you can create tradition.

            Star Wars – “Every generation has a legend; every journey has a first step; every saga has a beginning.”

            Providing it’s done thoughtfully, tastefully & with relevance.

          • January 13th 2014 @ 9:01am
            onetruegame said | January 13th 2014 @ 9:01am | ! Report

            Agree AndyS and Gator,
            “What we have here is a failure to communicate” (those under 45 google up Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke)

            When Pulver got the job I was encouraged by his background in marketing. We need to self educate around the USP’s of rugby and then tell the world.
            And moving on from your comments Gator, the noble notions in the practice of ritualised war that rugby can be are not heralded much if at all.
            The fact is that rugby does have a GPS history. Instead of being an embarrassment, this fact could be turned into a marketing message. I did not attend a GPS school. But it was a good independent school that placed high value on character development. And I find that many rugby clubs have similar character building ideals. This is why I encourage (not push) my boys to play.
            There’s so much to learn in other ways if you don’t play. Teamwork, goal-setting, physical struggle, life-long camaraderie, Roar debating technique would all have to be learnt and enjoyed elsewhere if not in rugby.
            All team sports offer much of this, though rugby is, I believe, a unique combination of the best of them. League and AFL are very similar.
            Anyway, the code that was built by blokes ‘who’ve ‘read a book’ seems to have struggled with writing clear messages to the market it so desperately needs.
            Over to you Bill.

          • January 13th 2014 @ 9:20am
            onetruegame said | January 13th 2014 @ 9:20am | ! Report

            You have become another poster playing the man, and not the ball.
            What has the article writer’s personality got to do with it?

            Of course we can create tradition. We do it every day with every thing we do.
            I don’t agree with everything the writer writes but he deserves more respect than the labelling you have discredited him with.
            This issue, if you care about it as much as the writer has for some considerable time, deserves better thought out responses. Get back ten.

    • January 12th 2014 @ 8:01am
      Mattjoe said | January 12th 2014 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      Long night Sheek?

      I like the teams you suggest and the way you make regional divisions – but first and foremost I want a competition to exist for development reasons and so I can watch it. It is obvious that money is short – there wasn’t enough to hold the wb captain -not even to add depth.
      There is so much rugby these days thst I’m not the one eyed supporter I used to be. I watch all the Aussie super teams with the motivation and interest to see who is playing well, who is coming through and what styles are being played. Ultimately, I’m interested in the wallabies doing well.
      So I accept they will do what they have to do to get a financially viable comp going.

      I would partially follow your model and accept one team from each of the regions you specified. In Sydney and Brisbane, I would give preference to teams that had amalgamated to form regions (eg Sydney north) assuming they had demonstrated that they can afford it. I would only consider USyd if they fit that model and took a regional spot- And then only offered them a 2 year contract before the team representing that region was reconsidered. This would thereby allow wealthy clubs to help get us going and put pressure on reaching your eventual goal of regional tribalism.

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