The ARU must reverse their decision to cut an Australian team

kickedmyheight Roar Pro

By kickedmyheight, kickedmyheight is a Roar Pro New author!

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    Australian Rugby finds itself in a deep hole right now, undeniably of its own making. Rugby is being damaged every day that the ARU stays silent, but conversely the damage only seems to increase when they do speak up. So how do we sort this mess out?

    The ARU board needs to have a long hard look at their agreement to cut an Australian Super Rugby team. The situation right now is this: if the ARU cut either the Force or the Rebels, then they will face a legal challenge to that decision that will eat away at any profit that they expected to make through this move in the first place.

    The estimates are that the legal cost to the ARU could be up to $6 million. When this is deducted from the projected savings from cutting a team we are left with $9 million. These numbers are not definitive, but for the sake of argument let us assume they are accurate.

    What does this $9 million do for Australian rugby in real terms? The ARU claim they will invest this money in “grassroots”, but what does “grassroots” actually means. Is it school programs? Local Clubs? Shute Shield? All of the above?

    The truth is that the ARU either doesn’t have a plan or has been very secretive about it – why? Surely showing the rugby public exactly how the base level of the game will benefit from the reduction to four teams would be a key strategy to get people onto your side?

    The money may yet fail to get to the grassroots at all, the state unions are already asking for the money to go to themselves and Andrew Cox has claimed the money should be fed back into the four remaining Super teams. Perhaps he has a point.

    Tony McGahan Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby Union 2017

    All of the Super clubs are struggling financially at the moment and cutting one does nothing to change that fact. So what have we actually solved if this goes ahead?

    Removing the Rebels or the Force will have a devastating effect on rugby in those regions, not only will players and coaches be lost to the game, but pathways will be damaged and supporters will be disenfranchised and likely lost to the game, potentially for good.

    Will $9 million of grassroots development be enough to counteract this negative impact on the game? Will this action put the four remaining Super clubs into a more stable financial position while improving performance? Will this action put Australian rugby into a stronger position than it is now?

    I say the answer to all of these questions is no.

    I believe the only way forward from here is for the ARU to tell SANZAAR that in light of current circumstances we will no longer agree to cut any Australian team from Super Rugby.

    This action would of course require significant eating of humble pie and most likely a sigificant change of the ARU board.

    But frankly, that was on the cards the moment cutting an Australian super team became their “plan A” without the slightest hint of other options having been explored.

    Deliberately hurting Australian rugby by reducing the opportunities should always be the absolute last resort. But this board made it their first choice solution, which for me is unforgivable.

    It is time for the ARU to stand up for all of Australian rugby and find a way to make all five Australian teams viable.

    Bill Pulver ARU CEO

    Get creative, find private owners, explore the Public ownership model floated by the Force, find ways to reduce costs, such as a centralised contracting model for coaches and players.

    The board is made up of supposedly astute professionals from various fields so surely they can find a better way.

    The prospect of losing a team has brought out both the best and worst of Australian rugby.

    The passion of supporters, players and support staff for their team of choice is a joy to behold and shows just what these teams and this game means to so many of us.

    But when you are fighting for survival the gloves come off, which has seen the various factions tearing each other down in an attempt to bolster their own chances of survival.

    This is our darkest hour and is precisely when we need to stand together.

    Out of this crisis is born a great opportunity to have an honest look at where the game is, where we want it to be and what has to be done in order to get us there.

    Let us all find that path together.

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    The Crowd Says (80)

    • Roar Guru

      April 21st 2017 @ 9:09am
      sheek said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      I agree with this.

      Yes, it will be tough with financial pain involved, but Australian rugby must hold its ground.

      One point, when govts & sporting bodies are secret about their plans, it usually means they don’t have any, but they’re hoping & praying the plan will materialise when it has to!

      • Roar Pro

        April 21st 2017 @ 10:12am
        kickedmyheight said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        That is my fear too Sheek. The current administration has given no indication that they have any plan for taking things forward. Purely reactionary decisions, never a good sign!

        • Roar Guru

          April 21st 2017 @ 10:17am
          Train Without A Station said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

          Well no. They’ve explained what they plan to do.

          I don’t know if it’s a particularly great plan, but continuing on hoping nobody needs a bailout before 2020, despite their frequency, isn’t a great plan either.

          • April 21st 2017 @ 4:03pm
            Blue said | April 21st 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

            Please provide a link to the document that explains the ARU’s plans to inject more funds into grassroots. If not try and explain in detail what you know, as the rest of us are not sure what you are on about by stating the ARU have explained what they plan to do.

            • April 22nd 2017 @ 8:16am
              Train Without A Station said | April 22nd 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

              ARU Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

              The gist is mimicking AFL’s focus on AusKick and AFL 9s through Game On in schools and VIVA 7s to introduce kids to the game.

          • April 21st 2017 @ 4:44pm
            Dave from Mt Druitt said | April 21st 2017 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

            It is all fine saying that we should retain 5 teams but could at least one of them show some sort of character and provide some competition to the SA and NZ teams.

            At the moment the only way an Australian team will make the finals is by winning the Australian conference and frankly that is no good enough to justify 5 teams.

            If the Waratahs don’t win by 40 tonight I don’t know how I am going to follow next week.

            We have the players just not enough good ones and forget about those that have gone overseas.

          • April 21st 2017 @ 7:21pm
            In brief said | April 21st 2017 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

            Not sure if you can call the ARU’s one line statements ‘a plan’. I have been incredibly supportive of the ARU and they have done a lot of good things (nrc/ junior pathways/ public school programs) but this latest decision is very poor.

            • April 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am
              Train Without A Station said | April 22nd 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

              Not at all IB.

              But their strategic plan is. People are quick to forget they’ve clearly identified the focus areas only recently.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 9:19am
      mania said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      you come up with all these ideas of how keep 5 teams but none of this addresses the demise of aus rugby or how to stop it. u want the status quo where every one else wants aus rugby to improve. a dramatic improvement please.

      as a last resort aus will get kicked out of super rugby. if that happns i predict aus will never be a top 5 national team ever again.

      • Roar Pro

        April 21st 2017 @ 10:17am
        kickedmyheight said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Honestly, the demise of Aus rugby has been greatly overstated. We are still the 3rd ranked side in the world and while we are not having a good season, we have shown signs of being competitive with NZ. Yes, further structural change is needed, which is why I suggested centralisation could help, but there is no immediate solution to this problem. Certainly cutting a team is unlikely to cause any actual upturn in playing standards short term and will do nothing long term. Improvement needs to be made at a more base level, like NZ figured out and implemented after RWC 2007.

        • Roar Guru

          April 21st 2017 @ 10:23am
          Train Without A Station said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          You’re looking at it the wrong way.

          The demise isn’t necessarily about performance.

          It’s about fans and finances. This will impact future performance.

          • Roar Pro

            April 21st 2017 @ 10:33am
            kickedmyheight said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            Well performance has a direct impact on both fans and finances, so improving performance is an important aspect on this. But I agree that improving fan engagement and base financial positions outside of performance is also important.

            • Roar Guru

              April 21st 2017 @ 10:37am
              Train Without A Station said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

              Not necessarily.

              Had a big impact for the Reds.

              Less so for the Waratahs. The biggest benefit for the Waratahs was the income from home finals.

              Rebels and Storm have vastly different rates of success, yet the Storm has in some years average lower crowds.

              • April 21st 2017 @ 11:21am
                Jock Cornet said | April 21st 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

                What a load, any rugby person can see that the quality of the wallaby has significantly declined. Look at the results. Stop being an ostrich TWAS. The ARU are destroying the pathways from school to rep. The clubs are the answer . Losing the force is the least of the priblems

              • Roar Rookie

                April 21st 2017 @ 11:29am
                piru said | April 21st 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

                Could that be because in QLD the fans are actually watching the game?

              • Roar Guru

                April 21st 2017 @ 11:31am
                Train Without A Station said | April 21st 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

                Not sure what that has to do with anything I said Jock…

              • April 21st 2017 @ 1:21pm
                Jock Cornet said | April 21st 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

                Head full of sand TWAS . Wake up your academies and top down approach is a disaster. You produce quality players thru quality competitions . Look at the super form things aren’t rosy mate. When do you hit the panic button when the NZRFU kick is out cause we lose every week by 50 points. You must be in the ARU cause or maybe living in Melbourne you are away from the coalface

              • April 21st 2017 @ 4:09pm
                AndyS said | April 21st 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

                For crying out loud Jock, do you even understand the phrases you keep parroting? A bottom up model is, by definition, one where the grassroots have to do it all for themselves and pass money up the chain. If that is seriously what you are proposing as the best model, get on with it…it doesn’t require anything at all of the ARU.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 9:23am
      BBA said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      I don’t think you have to win the ARU over so much as the broadcasters. I think the ARU would love to have all 5 teams if they are financial. However if the broadcaster has got it into its head that there are too many low quality games that are not attractive to their viewers they may carry the power of saying cut a team or find a new broadcaster.

      While some may welcome that, it means that the situation is that all the Superugby teams become no longer viable. It sounds like the ARU have explored alternative competitions (with NZ) but that has failed, so it seems the choices are to cut a team, convince the broadcaster that the product is really popular as it is and no Aussie teams need to be cut or go it alone.

      • Roar Pro

        April 21st 2017 @ 10:26am
        kickedmyheight said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        On your first point, the ARU wanted to cut a team for financial reasons, while Fox wanted to keep 5 Aus teams. If reports are to be believed. While the broadcasters have agreed to keep the deal for now, what happens when we try to negotiate the next deal with reduced teams? I doubt they will be quite so accomodating!

        On your second point, I don’t really count asking NZ to abandon a system that is working well for them is a genuine attempt to explore options. What I am talking about is exploring options to make all 5 franchises viable within the current set-up. The fact that no consultation occurred with any of the franchises before the cut decision was made is stark evidence that other options were never seriously considered.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 9:30am
      AK said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Seems the South Africans had a plan B to warehouse two franchise into the European competition. The ARU had only one plan, an ill considered attempt to assassinate a franchise. And that plan certainly isn’t going too well!
      The ARU Board needs to realise they have been poorly advised by an incompetent management team.The Chair needs to resign having overseen such a myopic process.
      There are three intelligent women on the ARU Board that should be free of all the politics, time to decide if you are going to continue to be pushed around by a bunch of blind alpha males or really take a stand for the sake of the game.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 9:58am
      Barra23 said | April 21st 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

      I don’t think enough has been said about the broadcasters, particularly FOX Sports contribution to this situation. While admittedly the broadcast fees provide the life blood for Super Rugby, the paywall model currently in force is also to the detriment of the game. They need to adopt a NRL type model were a few games are on free to air with the rest on FOX Sports.
      I know a lot of people who are interested in the games but not interested enough to fork out $100 a month. FOX may lose money to start with but growing viewership is always a good thing, for the game and I suspect for their bottom line too.
      Every year It gets harder and harder to justify keeping the subscription, particularly as the rest of FOXs content is pretty ordinary. Don’t get me started on the fact that FOX only televised half the NRC, the other half being behind another paywall.

    • April 21st 2017 @ 10:01am
      Garryowen said | April 21st 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      Doesn’t make sense to cut an Australian team particularly in the West where rugby has been steadily growing and substitute it with a Japanese team. The Japanese have been steadily building there teams using very good coaches and wholesale imports of players from anywhere- Australia, New Zealand Fuji SA etc and pay them good money
      What do we do here, the complete opposite when we introduce 2 new league teams- keep them short of money and restrict imports and too tight control which has put off people posssibly interested due to this negaive attitude shown by people like the incumbent ARU board. One of the interested new backers for the Force, Raymond Burke is a co-owner of the Highlanders

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