Is Kurtley Beale the most important player in Australia and New Zealand?

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    At the sharp end of last week’s thrilling Bledisloe Cup match in Dunedin, Kurtley Beale was shown the door to the try-line by replacement All Black prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi, and duly sliced through between him and Sam Whitelock to score under the posts.

    The try capped an outstanding match from Beale, where he not only built on the attacking threat shown in Sydney, but dominated the midfield battle with Sonny Bill Williams in what was the most assertive defensive performance in his career.

    At 29-28 up with less than three minutes to play, Wallabies fans (and the Fox Sports rugby panel) dared to dream, even as the All Blacks re-gathered possession from the kick-off and mounted a last-gasp attack.

    With the ball swung to the right it was Beale, in what was a solid and straight defensive line, who made a snap decision to turn in away from his man to make a spot tackle on Scott Barrett; one which might have killed the attack stone dead.

    Barrett, however, has some of the softest and fastest hands in the business, and in the blink of an eye he shifted the ball on to Keiran Read, who strode through the space Beale had vacated. Two killer passes later and the Bledisloe Cup was once again lost for the Wallabies.

    To pin the loss on this one poor read by Beale would be unfair and ignore other key moments that occurred during the game. But in turning in an instant, from hero to zero, there was no denying Beale’s influence on the Test match.

    There is another reason why Beale is now the most important player in Australian – and New Zealand – rugby.

    Entering its second generation since becoming professional, rugby is evolving in a way that concentrates elite-level activity in geographic areas where commercial opportunity and financial return is maximized. There is nothing surprising in this, the template has already been established by other professional sports, notably football, where global talent is mostly found in the richest leagues of England, Spain and Germany.

    In recent years, rugby has experienced an increasing rate of ‘player drain’ from all of the southern hemisphere rugby nations to the leagues of the northern hemisphere; some to the Pro 12, but mostly to the English Premiership and French Top 14 and its lower divisions.

    The 2016 New Zealand Rugby Almanac lists 354 players registered with overseas clubs. At the beginning of this year, the number of South Africans playing overseas also exceeded 350, including an astonishing 65 Springboks. For Australia, the number is said to be over 200.

    Kurtley Beale was one of those players, having signed for Wasps and playing during the 2016-17 season after recovering from a knee injury sustained during 2016 Super Rugby.

    Kurtley Beale Australia Rugby Union Championship Wallabies Bledisloe Cup 2017

    (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

    But what makes Beale so important is what has happened since; the rare instance of a top-flight player swimming against the tide, returning to Australian rugby instead of deserting it.

    Beale’s impact on the Wallabies in two matches has been immediate and obvious. He has his detractors, but the decline of the Wallabies since their second placing at the 2015 World Cup is testimony to a lack of elite player depth and the absence of experienced Test players like Beale.

    With the NRC still at fledgeling status, the lack of an established domestic professional competition has led to an over-dependence on Super Rugby, and a situation where too many Australian players are exposed to top level rugby before they are truly ready – filling gaps in rosters opened up when more experienced and talented players moving overseas.

    In a crude sense, Beale now playing in Australia means that an inferior player isn’t filling his slot for the Wallabies, and similarly, for the Waratahs in next season’s Super Rugby.

    If that’s bad luck for Karmichael Hunt, Kyle Godwin, Billy Meakes, Irae Simone, David Horwitz, Bryce Hegarty or any youngster on the way up, that’s exactly the point – if Australian rugby wants to be winning Test and Super Rugby matches against New Zealand sides then it must have its best players on the park.

    The appalling record of Australian Super Rugby sides over the past two seasons is cause for angst and anger in Australian rugby circles, with fans quick to single out player attitudes, coaching inadequacies and administrative incompetence as reasons.

    But the real villain is the almighty dollar, with players lured away from Australia by the opportunity to earn substantial sums, and set themselves and their families up for a better future, post-retirement.

    There are examples at every turn. When I visited the Clermont-Auvergne club earlier this year, John Ulugia and Sitaleki Timani were in the house, enjoying a weights session. They went on to play important roles in Clermont winning this year’s Top 14 and finishing runner-up in the European championship.

    Sitaleki Timani of the NSW Waratahs on the burst. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

    (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

    How much stronger would the Waratahs have been this year with their presence – noting Timani’s 53 Super Rugby appearances and 18 caps for the Wallabies?

    The Wallabies’ best forward last week was flanker Sean McMahon; the same McMahon who is now leaving Australian rugby to play in Japan. Fans might argue the toss about his lack of height or where he sits alongside Michael Hooper and David Pocock, but surely nobody is suggesting that the Rebels and the Wallabies aren’t significantly weakened by his departure?

    With experienced Test player Scott Fardy signing with Leinster, new Wallabies blindside flanker Ned Hanigan has not only been exposed to Test rugby with too few miles under his belt, but who now is the experienced mentor in the squad to tutor him in the dark arts of Test rugby?

    With the Australian Rugby Union’s balance sheet resembling that of the Greek government, dark clouds potentially looming in the form of a costly civil war with Western Australia, and uncertainty around the value of future broadcasting rights, there is no prospect of Australia stemming the flow of players north through financial means alone.

    But what the return of Beale, and also that of halfback Will Genia, shows, is that in certain circumstances, it is possible to judiciously target key players and convince them to return to play in Australia. In Beale’s case, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was an important influence; for Genia, club rugby in Paris being on the cusp of implosion was timely.

    Note how Genia was another major contributor last week. What is critical is not just that these players return home, but that they deliver, and leverage their individual performance into improved outcomes for the Wallabies. This will help show other players overseas what they are missing out on.

    While English and French clubs would have it otherwise, Test rugby retains primacy as the ultimate form of the game. If the financial disparity between offers from the northern hemisphere clubs and the ARU can be bridged via intangibles like playing Test rugby for a happy, successful Wallabies (with the prospect of a realistic tilt at the World Cup thrown in), and for Super Rugby franchises that actually win, then perhaps the player drain may be slowed.

    In this respect, the ARU’s policy to select the Wallabies from domestic rugby only (‘Giteau’s Law’ exemptions excepted) is the correct one and must be retained for as long as possible.

    The alternative is a continuation of the current situation where, even if the rate of players heading north slows, the quality of player targeted will increase. And without New Zealand’s conveyor belt of fresh talent to call upon, the only possible outcome will be more Wallabies and Super Rugby mediocrity.

    Why then is Kurtley Beale important for New Zealand rugby? New Zealand has been considerably more successful than Australia in furnishing revenue streams through global sponsorship deals, but its main revenue source remains the value of SANZAAR’s broadcasting rights.

    With South Africa now casting an eye northwards, an uncompetitive Australia serves to diminish the value of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship to broadcasters. Without sufficient revenue accruing from these broadcast rights, New Zealand and Australian rugby, if they don’t go broke first, will eventually cede control of all of their best players to the richer clubs, who don’t have the responsibility and costs associated with administering all of rugby.

    New Zealand rugby has recently entered into a new commercial arrangement with Amazon that, in the short term, will see production of an eight-part documentary to enhance the global presence and commercial value of the All Blacks’ brand.

    Ryan Crotty New Zealand Rugby Union Championship Bledisloe Cup All Blacks 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    More crucially, it is Amazon’s entry into the broadcasting rights space that will provide competitive tension and underpin the next round of negotiations for SANZAAR’s rugby offerings, which are likely to begin next year. The permutations around a non-traditional, non-TV player obtaining rugby rights is a topic for another day; suffice to say that, whatever potential problems arise, these will be more than offset by the financial injection for both unions.

    But even if New Zealand is able to engineer an outcome where they can pay more of their best players salaries to match the north, they still need to have someone competitive to play against.

    Last week’s Bledisloe Cup match showed how the spark, tension and theatre that has been missing from trans-Tasman rugby can easily be regained when the skill level is high, the contest is willing and genuinely competitive, and the result is in doubt until the final minute.

    It is now up to Beale and the rest of the Wallabies to ensure that this performance is not an outlier, but is the basis on which Australian rugby can begin to restore respect and pride.

    If this triggers the return of other experienced players who want a piece of the action, Beale will have done a fine job for both Australian and New Zealand rugby.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (321)

    • September 4th 2017 @ 6:50am
      Fionn said | September 4th 2017 @ 6:50am | ! Report

      I’ve heard we’re paying Genia $800,000 – essentially his salary from France – and so I’m interested to hear how much we’re paying Beale.

      If the only way we can get players back is by matching their northern hemisphere salaries then that is obviously is not a solution.

      At the end of the day, I think that end point is what you said – everyone plays in France and the UK. Whether this hurts or helps Aussie rugby is a different question. Sure, young Aussies currently choose rugby league due to the higher starting salaries, but if salaries for juniors are higher playing rugby in the NH then perhaps they’ll turn to rugby? Obviously we will eventually have to select almost all foreign players

      • September 4th 2017 @ 7:35am
        Fionn said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:35am | ! Report

        I also think that Genia is the most important.

        • Columnist

          September 4th 2017 @ 7:54am
          Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

          Hi Fionn

          It will be fascinating to see if the entry of new media companies into the SH broadcast rights arena turns the current gloomy outlook into a positive one for the ARU and NZRU.

          But even if rights revenues are increased in the next round, you’d have to think that everything is relative, and the NH rights will increase in value as well. Proprotionately or greater. And the history of professional sport shows that most of this goes to player salaries.

          It’s quite possible that we’ll see the Wallabies resemble the Socceroos, ie all selected from overseas leagues. But it’s also possible that this may take longer to evolve than what some people think. Particularly if the A$ stays relatively strong.

          • Roar Guru

            September 4th 2017 @ 7:56am
            Carlos the Argie said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

            Not in cycling. Not all the money goes to riders. Most stay with ASO, the French tour organizers. This is one crazy business model!

          • September 4th 2017 @ 12:06pm
            jemainok said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

            Morena Geoff,

            As you are probably aware Amazon is making a play to have extensive rights to NZ rugby, They are known for throwing a huge amount of money for things they want, I wouldn’t be surprised if the NZRU secures themselves financially for the forseeable future, As I have not heard of Amazon trying to attach themselves to European Rugby, I would speculate that they are purchasing the rights to the ALL Black brand which they see as a leader in the sporting market, It is highly doubtful that Sky sports can compete with Amazon. So while I agree on some of what you have written, I think the NZRU know what they are doing, and have played themselves into a rather promising position which should see them reap the financial benefits, which has potential to change the way Sports are viewed with companies like fox and sky becoming obsolete imo. On Beale Imo Brodie Rettalick is more important to Aotearoa than Beale imho, or have I just misinterpreted what you were trying to say. Cheers for a good read anyway.

            • September 4th 2017 @ 12:15pm
              Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

              The rights deals for European Rugby are already locked up. The Six Nations and not the Heineken Cup sponsored by Heineken are commencing new deals next year. The UK Six Nations rights got a release from the old BBC only deal a year early (same occurred with the Open Championship) due to cost cutting. The Irish rights on RTÉ only finished this year will be on TV3 from 2018.

              BT has just renewed the AP rights and the Pro 14 will be up for negotiation shortly.

            • Roar Guru

              September 4th 2017 @ 12:22pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

              Hello J

              I think you can be fairly certain that any increase in revenue rights due to new players on the market (Amazon et al), will mean they will splash even bigger money on the European broadcasting rights, hence they are already more valuable and it is a much bigger market.

              The AB’s is a very strong brand, no doubt. But I think you are overestimating its value outside NZ. Very very few potential customers in Europe would gravitate towards Amazon because they have exclusive rights for AB’s Tests.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 12:48pm
                jemainok said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

                Nuetral that isn’t the point at all. This isn’t about what is happening in the North. It is about what is happening in New Zealand. Amazon is one of the richest companies in the world, and when they want something they pay ridiculous amounts of money above the market value to get it. Amazon has already made there intentions known so now a dog fight is looming between Sky NZ and Amazon, were the financial winner is NZRU. I couldn’t careless about what broadcast deal they have in the NH, I do see what broadcasting is allowing them to do in purchasing players. I do care however about the financial stability of the NZRU and time will tell but imo this could be a game changer, With the Amazon subscription of about $8NZ pm it would give casual fans a lot easier access to NZ Rugby if they wished. But it would seem Amazon just wants the All Black brand how much there willing to pay for it remains to be seen.

              • Roar Guru

                September 4th 2017 @ 1:12pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

                Amazon is one of the richest companies in the world, and when they want something they pay ridiculous amounts of money above the market value to get it

                They will not pay above the market value, you can be sure about that. What they eventually pay is the market value.
                Amazon did not become one the biggest companies in the world by giving handouts. This is strictly business.

                I couldn’t careless about what broadcast deal they have in the NH

                Well, you should. Because no matter how much NZR can pay their players if these players can get five or ten times more in Europe, that is the real game-changer (and that is not speculation, that we see right in front of our eyes as we speak)

                The same potential bid war dog fight you might see in NZ will happen every else also. And NZR does work in isolation, what happens in the rest of world affects them very much.

                The good news about a potential Amazon deal is that more Kiwis will able to watch rugby, but outside of that there very few relative changes on the table.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 2:30pm
                Jerry said | September 4th 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                Yeah, but seeing as the current price is essentially Sky being able to dictate how much they’re willing to pay, having another party in the mix is very good news for NZ Rugby.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 2:33pm
                Taylorman said | September 4th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

                Well if this game is creating hundreds of millionaire kiwi rugby players thats gotta be good. Sure we can moan about it but if our ‘sacrifice’ is to take mega bucks of countries 30 times the size cant produce then all the better.

                I think that gravy train will run out eventually but its a permanent gold mine if it doesnt.

                We’ll still compete in the SH because the similar calibre players will also be picked up across the other sides.

                Win win. All at the expense of our European buddies. Im all for that.?

              • Roar Guru

                September 4th 2017 @ 2:50pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

                That is positive T-man.
                Before you have expressed the opinion that all Kiwi’s should stay in NZ and aspire the AB’s. I am glad you finally got out of your cave and see a little daylight now.

              • Columnist

                September 4th 2017 @ 3:04pm
                Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

                Hi jemainok

                Yes of course individuals like Retallick are more important to NZ rugby than someone like Beale, if we’re just talking about the rugby. I’m just using Beale in context to illustrate the point that – whatever happens with Amazon and other players – NZ rugby is unlikely to succeed long term as an isolated outpost in the southern hemisphere. It needs Australia to be healthy and competitive.

                NV’s point is a good one. Whatever financial boost the NZRU gets from Amazon, we can logically expect the next rounds of NH rights – for each of their 3 main competitions, plus the 6N, plus November internationals – to be proportionately higher.

                All that said, whatever the potential upside of new media companies prompting a bidding war for rights, there have also been plenty of recent indicators suggesting that rights values will level off. Plus there are things for rugby bodies to consider like, what type of access viewers will have and what it will cost them.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 3:08pm
                Taylorman said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                Nothing to do with a cave Swede that views always been there for our players, but theyre not on here to voice it. As fans it sux but so lond as someone is well compensated by those who have more money than sense then who am I to complain.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 3:14pm
                Jacko said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

                Neutral I think you are the one in the cave…You seem to think the ABs brand only has value in NZ. You say it is not valued OS yet the major Sponsor is a USA company and now Amazon is looking pretty serious. Why dont you accept that the ABs are the best in the world at what they do and that they are sort after ALL around the world. Its like saying the EPL is a waste of time in Aus because the comp is in England…People PAY to watch the best and i believe AMAZON is looking at its US as a market not just Europe

              • Roar Guru

                September 4th 2017 @ 3:31pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                The AB brand is a game changer in NZ, not so much outside NZ.
                Just because AIG throws some spare change on NZR, does not make it big in global perspective.
                You will soon see that Amazon (and similar companies) are moving all around the world to obtain sporting rights. Actually, they have already started outside NZ.
                What Amazon is trying to do in NZ is for the local NZ market, not for the rest of the world.

              • September 5th 2017 @ 8:21am
                Andy said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

                Neutral the all blacks are one of if not the most recognised sporting brands in the world

              • Roar Guru

                September 5th 2017 @ 9:00am
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report


                Can you – or anyone – share some proof that backs your claim?

              • September 4th 2017 @ 9:34pm
                Carozza'sNose said | September 4th 2017 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

                The fact an American company wants to sponsor any team outside America simply means they’re planning on selling their product in that territory. They only pay relative to that market size (+ a little more per international appearance). There would also be an increase related to a teams international ranking.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 4:05pm
                jemainok said | September 4th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

                Hey Geoff,

                How will New Zealand rugby not succeed? What is this based on? Is that your opinion or have you done a study? The NZRU has done a marvellous job and I for one are not going to doubt them now, They have made the AB’s a globally recognisable brand. They have imo far better working conditions than the Northern Hemisphere, with Player welfare at the heart of what they do, they give players a great percentage of their earnings, and continue to support and fund grass roots to ensure the next generation. They actually lose far less of there FIRST CHOICE players than other countries. So I ain’t going to fear the money in the North, Control the controllable and the NZRU have done a great job so far at this. Time will tell who is right.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 4:20pm
                Perthstayer said | September 4th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

                J – Amazon now offers pay-per-view TV.

                Estimates are they’ll spend $3bn this year on content. They tie in sponsorship deals to help secure cheaper content.

                With these guys often one tentacle only exists to make another stronger.

              • Columnist

                September 4th 2017 @ 5:17pm
                Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report


                ‘Succeed’ is probably the wrong word to use. The culture of rugby in NZ is so entrenched that it’s impossible to imagine NZ never being a major player. And you’re right, the NZRU is made up of smart people who have done a great job keeping the majority of AB’s in NZ rugby, and they have plenty up their sleeve to ensure it stays that way.

                The other side of the coin is that it’s quite feasible that pro rugby will follow the path of pro football, where all the the top global talent will concentrate in one or two leagues, located where the biggest markets are. That’s what money does.

                If that happens (and don’t forget that rugby is only 22 years into professionalism) it won’t mean the end of NZ rugby, not by a long shot. But it would almost certainly mean a significantly different domestic landscape, with the AB’s all playing overseas.

                Will that happen? Who knows, but I wouldn’t be betting my house against it. What I do believe is that the stronger Australian rugby is, and the stronger SANZAAR is, the better it is for NZ in terms of holding out against the tide.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 8:21pm
                Rugby Tragic said | September 4th 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

                It is reported that the 2 sponsorship’s of Adidas ($10 mill x 5) and AIG ($15 mill x 5) is worth $125 million over 5 years (in NZ Rugby World by memory). In addition, Tudor has come on board for an undisclosed sum. This is more than loose change.

                These 3 international sponsors are a godsend to the NZRU and added to that, I believe that all the Provincial Unions are in the black. The NZRU of course have the SAANZAR payouts.

                It is known that the NZRU is ‘looking for more’ international sponsors which I think is a wise move but this alone would suggest that the All Black pulling power is more than the NZ market. Amazon I do not think would be thinking only of the NZ market. Just doesn’t make sense.

                The retention of key players has been largely successful to date but I’d expect that NZ Rugby will lose more younger fringe players (such as Charles Piutau and Steven Luatua) in or coming into their prime over time as the competition for places in NZ shows no signs of easing.

                One would believe that Ben Smith and Izzy Dagg turned down more money that they are earning in NZ to stay in this country.

                NZRU has as I understand it, has packed well the remuneration for those they want to keep and it is not totally dollars and sense.

              • Roar Guru

                September 4th 2017 @ 9:18pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

                Hello RT

                I don’t think anyone is seriously suggesting that NZR will go broke. They are doing a very good job at the moment.
                And the Adidas and AIG deals are good business for the NZR.

                But the Sanzaar “payout” is by far the biggest single income source for the NZR. About 50 percent of NZR yearly income is from Sanzaar deals. And most (much more than 50 percent) of Sanzaar’s incomes come from South African and European broadcasting rights.

                The problem as I see it is that we are living in rugby world that seems to be changing a bit now (which should be no surprise really, rugby is young pro sport who still are finding its feet). The major things that are of direct concern for NZR are rugby’s decline in Australia, South Africa is feeling out the north, and the game is growing fast commercially in Europe.

                Right now NZR just manages to keep the AB’s starters in NZ, but as you said, there is worrying tendency that the AB reserves have started to move to Europe earlier in their careers than before. I think it was you that told me that if one compared the money Luatua was offered in NZ to the money he tabled in Europe was “night and day”.

                If the gap between Europe and NZ gets bigger, chances are NZR might struggle to retain their star AB’s players also. No doubt the black jersey has a huge pull on NZ rugby players, but there is a red line. The salaries in NZ needs to be in the same ballpark, not in another universe. And right now – even with a sort of functional Sanzaar – the gap gets bigger every year.

                About Amazon, what can you see they can do with the NZR outside NZ? What is it NZR have that Amazon is prepared to pay top dollars for (in an international perspective)?

                The top product NZR have is the AB’s Test matches. They play about seven Test matches at home every year (mind NZR does not own the right to their away games). These seven Test matches are played at very poor time slots for the rest of the world (bar Asia), and even if some Kiwis don’t wanna know about it, rugby is not a sport with a broad global appeal.
                So I ask again, what is in it for Amazon outside the NZ market?

              • September 4th 2017 @ 9:58pm
                Council said | September 4th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

                You really do come across as condescending and know it all when it comes the NZ rugby.

                I think that if you really want to understand NZ rugby, you should visit for a month, there is alot of rugby talk that you simply won’t get being based overseas.

                Also the ABs are widely recognised around the world, I believe that France is the biggest purchaser of AB jumpers outside of NZ.

                And when people I’ve met overseas ask where I’m from, and I mention NZ, they ask me about rugby and the ABs.

                Please stop preaching to us about that which you know so little.

              • Roar Guru

                September 4th 2017 @ 10:22pm
                The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report


                It is much better if you actually try to bring something fresh to the discussion and not just focus on some lazy personal digs. And since you don’t bring anything to the table, it is pretty easy to ignore your suggestions and views.

              • September 5th 2017 @ 8:56am
                BrainsTrust said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:56am | ! Report

                Australia has more than double the expat New Zealanders than the rest of the world combined.
                The 20 thousand NZ’s in the States are not a market, 50 thousand in UK.
                In Australia there are 650 thousand, yet how well watched is rugby here.
                The biggest potential market in the US would be for the Ireland rugby team, with up to 30 million Irish Americans if it was marketed properly.You could see at the Ireland all Blacks test match they were all dressed in Irish gear.
                Does anyone really remotely believe they sell more All BLack Jerseys in France over Australia, where there are more Kiwis and All Black jerseys than Australians ones at Bledisloe cup matches here. Go into any sports store here and they have All Black jerseys.
                The All Black brand is big in NZ, followed by Australia, and while it might be well known in other rugby areas no one is going to be paying a seperate subscription to watch the All Blacks outside of NZ and Australia unless its dirt cheap.
                SKY NZ has 50% of NZ households and is profitable, but take out rugby and they will be wiped out so there will be a bidding war.
                The English rugby team is the biggest financially by a mile at the moment they earn like 180 million pounds a year out of their national team.

              • September 5th 2017 @ 4:50pm
                cuw said | September 5th 2017 @ 4:50pm | ! Report

                @ Rugby Tragic said

                ” It is reported that the 2 sponsorship’s of Adidas ($10 mill x 5) and AIG ($15 mill x 5) is worth $125 million over 5 years (in NZ Rugby World by memory). In addition, Tudor has come on board for an undisclosed sum. This is more than loose change. ”

                tnkx for this one , coz i always wondered exactly how much does NZ get from the sponsors.

                when it comes to rugger , NZ peeps do not want to accept they are just a small fish in the big pond of games and sports. hence the chest beating and all that , but the fact is despite being the undisputed champ of rugby union, NZ team gets peanuts from sponsors.

                for eg. how many know that NEW BALANCE pay US$ 40 mio per year to LIVERPOOL as the main kit sponsor ??

                also this season onwards WESTERN UNION will be their “sleeve sponsor” for USD 6.5mio per year.

                Liverpool’s main sponsor is Standard |Chartered Bank for another US$ 40 mio per year.

                add to that their sponsorship deal for training kits with online betting company BET VICTOR , the figure that is undisclosed.

                basically Liverpool get around US$ 100 mio per year in sponsorship.

                and this is no where in the monies the bigger clubs in England like Manchester United , Manchester City , Chelsea , …. get 🙂

                it will be interesting to see how much other teams get as sponsorship money.

                for eg. Indian cricket team gets US$ 35 mio per year from phone maker OPPO. their kist was sponsored by NIKE for US$ 12.5 mio per year.

                i think for the abilities of NZ rugger team , and given their dominance in the game , they get a very bad sponsorship deal.

                i also think this amount reflects the game being a small fish in the big pond. irrespective of what peeps like to think All Blacks are known only by those who follow the game – which is a minority in the whole world.

                at the end of the day footy remains the world’s game. cricket comes next becoz of the population in India .

              • September 5th 2017 @ 6:03pm
                cuw said | September 5th 2017 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

                on the subject of TV rights:

                news is in that Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) has awarded STAR INDIA the worldwide broadcasting rights for IPL cricket for 2018 – 2022.

                contract value is US$ 2.550 BILLION ( US$ 510 Million per year)

        • September 4th 2017 @ 2:06pm
          Ex force fan said | September 4th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

          Sad if your most valuable player could not even get his contract renewed. Then you pay him top $ just to “keep him in Australia”. Dumb especially if you could get 4 players that is younger, hungrier and almost just as good for the same price

        • September 4th 2017 @ 11:49pm
          QED said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:49pm | ! Report

          When fit and available, Pocock is our best player

      • September 4th 2017 @ 11:51am
        Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        Fionn due to foreign player restrictions in each comp it won’t happen. JIFF quotas are getting tighter in France and clubs are preferring to sign South Africans and Pacific Islanders due to the Kolpak agreements.

        • September 4th 2017 @ 11:56am
          Ed said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

          Could the introduction of Brexit have a possible impact on the number of players in the UK, Bakkies?

          • September 4th 2017 @ 12:03pm
            Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

            Don’t know yet. We are still 18 months from the trigger being played on the EU, a lot of negotiations still going on. The Irish players don’t even what is going on in regards to the border with NI too.

            What we do know is that Kolpak agreements in the UK will end (to the life of me I don’t know SA are still included in that agreement). We have already seen SA cricketers Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw throw in their national central contracts with the Proteas to get long term Kolpak county deals. These will probably be the last of them.

            The changes to the IRB’s eligibility laws will also be in at around the same time. Contracts signed before 2020 are exempt. Eg signing a three year deal with the SRU to play for Edinburgh and Glasgow and be regarded as a local player and eligible for test Rugby under the current eligibility laws. The five year law will change how contracts will be structured. The ARU will be affected as Tupou and Speight have been contracted under the project player scheme to qualify for the Wallabies while playing Super Rugby.

            • September 4th 2017 @ 3:21pm
              Ed said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

              Thanks Bakkies. I had read articles about how Brexit could affect the English Premier League but less on rugby.

              I agree on your point below that the NRC is Australia’s future yet the Shut Shield will do its best to bring it down.
              How do we bridge the gap to Super Rugby? I dunno but can those Sydney first grade club spruikers say it is the equivalent of the ITM or Currie Cup?

              • September 4th 2017 @ 3:39pm
                Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                Keep working on the NRC. The people in club land who don’t have their head in the sand would have noticed that the NRC players who are going back to club Rugby have improved ten fold after being in a more professional environment.

                It would be harder for the clubs to get rid of the NRC with the tied in tv deal with Foxsports and the IRB funding the Fijian participation in the competition.

              • Columnist

                September 4th 2017 @ 4:06pm
                Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

                That’s really a key issue Bakkies. The Sydney clubs fighting the NRC because it’s the ARU’s competition and/or because they see themselves as the rightful domestic professional tier is a nonsense.

                Until that matter is resolved and Australian rugby becomes more unified there will continue to be a handbrake applied to the Wallabies and the SR franchises.

            • September 5th 2017 @ 5:13pm
              cuw said | September 5th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

              ” What we do know is that Kolpak agreements in the UK will end (to the life of me I don’t know SA are still included in that agreement). ”

              this is becoz Kolpack case was about person from a country that has a trading agreement with EU. saffas are one of 70 odd countries that have signed a trading agreement with EU.

              Kolpack was actually a handball player in Germany as far as i recall. he was from Czechoslovakia , a country that had signed a trading agreement with Eu , which made him a “national” 🙂

              footy in EU region is basically depending on the Bosman rule. theoretically when UK goes out they will not be able to use this rule ( as it a EU court rule for the land within the union.). Bosman case is about movement within Eu as one place without borders.

        • Roar Guru

          September 4th 2017 @ 12:17pm
          The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          That is partly true in France Bakkies (but not in England). But the lure of SH player has on club owners is that they don’t get called up for international duty. And since all European rugby leagues run the business as usual during November Tests and 6N, that means any NH international players are only available for selection about 60-70 percent of the season. To that, you can add that an English – or French – top international players command a higher salary also. So in many regards, it is better to sign SH players for them.

          • September 4th 2017 @ 1:00pm
            Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

            The clubs/provinces are still limited to the amount of foreign players they can pick in a match day squad so they are resorting to picking younger local players. Most of the younger players that the likes of Leinster bring through are during those windows, Ireland camps are on and of course schedule player management periods.

            ‘But the lure of SH player has on club owners is that they don’t get called up for international duty.’

            That depends on the contract. Ruan Pienaar was given full release by Ulster to play for the Boks. He is now at Montpellier but it won’t be an issue there for him due to his age profile. Francois Steyn is a different story though.

            • Roar Guru

              September 4th 2017 @ 1:18pm
              The Neutral View From Sweden said | September 4th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              Yes, the clubs/provinces can’t field only foreign players. But there are still enough spots – money – so that at least the 150 best SH players could potentially play in Europe.
              Already now I guess about 500-600 SH players play professional rugby in Europe.

              As things stand now, extremely few SH players in Europe are selected for international duty.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 1:43pm
                MitchO said | September 4th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

                It is not just about salaries for many guys. Most players are not going to make enough money in a 5 to 10 year rugby career to set themselves up for life and a lot of them know it. One injury away from not being able to get a labouring job even and maybe never liking paperwork coz at school they were too busy being a sports star.

                Life style can still play a big role. I know a guy with an Oxford Blue who played for Kobe Steel in Japan. Very good player but would not have made the England team. Has a real uni degree and still works in international business in the steel sector. His rugby ability helped forge a life long career just like in the fully amateur days.

                Most players, even the good ones, are better off focussing on life experiences and contacts.

              • Columnist

                September 4th 2017 @ 3:08pm
                Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                That’s certainly true Mitch. A generation ago players went north for the lifestyle experience.

                Now, even if they go for the money, the lifestyle experience is still a big pull factor for most players – even the big name ones.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 3:40pm
                Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

                ‘Already now I guess about 500-600 SH players play professional rugby in Europe.’

                That also covers the Fédérale leagues in France, National League 1, Romania, Spanish, etc competitions.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 3:43pm
                Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                ‘the lifestyle experience is still a big pull factor for most players – even the big name ones.’

                Of course like the majority of their mates who only get to Europe on working holiday visas from 18 to 30 want to travel and experience difference things overseas before settling down. For some time now young people are choosing to get work abroad in their chosen profession while on a working holiday rather than do bar work and couch surf.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 4:25pm
                Perthstayer said | September 4th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

                Geoff – Better beer, better weather, better cars, better looking women, better salaries, better food, better clothes, better holidays, who can blame them?

              • September 4th 2017 @ 4:42pm
                MitchO said | September 4th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

                Surely you jest Perthstayer. Being squad member number 35 at the Brumbies hanging out in sunny Canberra is a far superior lifestyle than getting paid to live in the South of France with a free exercise programme thrown in to work off those carbs and all that butter. ACT everytime for me. As a bonus there is no surf and no beaches.

      • September 4th 2017 @ 11:56am
        Bakkies said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

        ‘If the only way we can get players back is by matching their northern hemisphere salaries then that is obviously is not a solution.’

        The solution is obvious. Regular player development whether the Sydney clubs like it or not they have to admit that the NRC is best for Australian Rugby’s future. The under 20s have to have targets too. JWC placing and the amount of players going on to EPS or full contracts each year. Other unions with smaller player pools are already doing it. Eg Ireland and Wales.

    • September 4th 2017 @ 7:00am
      Cynical Play said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Beale is integral to any current WB success. He’s shown that. Wether ar 12 or 15, though I suspect Cheika has him firmly at 12 now. And rightly so.

      He’s that good.

      • Roar Rookie

        September 4th 2017 @ 8:18am
        Don said | September 4th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

        I think Beale is firmly locked in as our 12 as long as Cheika is coach. He wants the 2nd playmaker option to involve Folau more.

        Personally, I think he is better at 15 now he has spent time there in England and learning how to take the high ball in traffic.

        I hope I am wrong but I’m expecting NZ and SA to directly target Foley more and have Beale wondering whether to come in or stay out on his man. SBW also played an absolute shocker. Crotty and ALB would pose a lot more questions of the defence.

        I’m not sold on the new and improved KB yet.
        Maybe by the end of the RC he can change my mind.
        I hope so.

        • September 4th 2017 @ 11:07am
          MitchO said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

          Beale is in our best 23. The question is how best to use him. I have in my best 15 and prefer the idea of playing him at 15 with Hunt and Kereiv job sharing at 12.

          If we do not do it this way then if Hunt and Beale can’t play 12 we are back to square one with the next two best prospects being Kerevi and Hodge not having enough experience. I may be being a bit harsh on Duncan P who will get another super season at 12 next year – I just don’t watch many Qld games.

          Better to build depth.

          • September 4th 2017 @ 11:34am
            Cynical Play said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

            Folau (wing)
            DHP (wing)


            defense…check (with abit of work from Kerevi)
            back three who can catch, return, attack, inject, …check

            • September 4th 2017 @ 11:55am
              Fionn said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

              We can’t have a Beale-Kerevi midfield. Turnstile city.

              Let’s not overrate Beale’s defensive performance, he was electric in attack and solid in defence, but he still made some poor defensive reads and misses. If he is going to be played at 12 – especially with Foley at 10 (who, upon rewatching also had some awkward moments in defence) then we need our strongest defending 13, which is TK. TK is just our best 13 full stop.

              So either Foley-Beale-Kuridrani or, my preference would Kerevi-TK midfield with beale at fullback or the wing.

              • September 4th 2017 @ 6:49pm
                Dan in Devon said | September 4th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

                Pretty much the theme of his time at Wasps. Brilliant in attack but leaky in defence which was why he was moved from 12 to 15. Hunt is by far the best solution at 12. In the matches I saw of him, he was a very good organiser/communicator at 12 as well as being effective in attack and defence. Hunt would be my solution going into the 2019 RWC – and he offers a solution to the Wallabies exit kicking problems.

            • September 4th 2017 @ 1:18pm
              glider said | September 4th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

              ………and as professional players who are contracted for large sum’s of money – they must show up and perform every time they run on.

            • September 4th 2017 @ 11:45pm
              QED said | September 4th 2017 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

              Genia, Foley, Kerevi, Kurindrani Folau/Niavalu (Wings) Beale (FB) –
              Powell, Hodge, Hunt

              Kepu,TPN,Alaalatoa, Coleman, Arnold, Timani, Fardy, Pocock (Capt) –
              Latu, Toby Smith, lukan Tui, Higginbotham, McMahon

    • September 4th 2017 @ 7:02am
      Bill said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report


    • September 4th 2017 @ 7:08am
      Daveski said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Really enjoyed this read Geoff in lieu of a Wrap. It can be a challenge to find too much positive stuff about Kurtley here or on GAGR. On the field he’s certainly shown his worth the last two tests and I think even his detractors would accept his defence has improved.

      You’ve generally highlighted big name players ( except Sitaleki who is more a big-frame player and I’ll have to declare I never rated) but it’s the Luke Jones, Liam Gills, Jessie Mogg’s who are as much a worry. 2-3 good Super seasons, a couple of tests matches but if they aren’t near the top of the Wallabies pay scale and maybe not a favourite of the current coach then it’s all too tempting to head to Aix, Lyon, Swansea etc.

      Ultimately I support the stance of only picking domestically contracted players and Wallabies selection being a major incentive to stay is great in theory but it will be interesting to see it evolve in practice the next 5-10years.

      • Columnist

        September 4th 2017 @ 7:43am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

        Yes Daveski, it’s not just the big name players but a whole heap of players at the level you identify who aren’t around to stiffen up the Super Rugby franchises, and create competition for places, which feeds into the lack of success at that level.

        What’s really encouraging about this years’ NRC is the higher number of Wallabies turning out. Anything which helps raise the standard, and helps bridge the gap for young players from club rugby, through the NRC into Super Rugby, must be a good thing.

        • September 4th 2017 @ 10:36am
          Daveski said | September 4th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Agree the NRC does have a bit more of an older player look this year ( perhaps not Melb so much ) which is probably a good thing. When you get some standout performances from the likes of young players such as Mack Mason and Jack Maddocks that we saw on the weekend then you’re inclined to feel those performances have a bit more substance to them.

          One thing the ARU will need to start factoring in is depth in position even if that means more is done to keep certain players than might be otherwise. For example we really should not be currently letting any fly halves, loose heads or hookers get away overseas without a fight.

    • September 4th 2017 @ 7:10am
      Onside said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      ‘the real villain is the almighty dollar, with players lured away from Australia’.

      sure, but on the other hand…..

      Australia has also done very well in the ‘almighty dollar’ scenario, considering
      luring players with P I heritage TO Australia ,and the pivotal influence they have
      had on its TEST and Super Rugby .

      • Columnist

        September 4th 2017 @ 8:01am
        Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 8:01am | ! Report

        That’s certainly true Onside, but only to a degree. Would you agree the vast majority of PI heritage players in Australian rugby are second generation or from families migrating for reasons other than rugby?

        Although a cynical view might be that Australian rugby has poached relatively few players only because they can’t match the offers from the NRL and French rugby clubs?

        • September 4th 2017 @ 8:25am
          Taylorman said | September 4th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          Yes thats probably true to an extent though the ever increasing presence of Pacific Island communities within Australia now makes it a real option.

          Oz seem to be going through what NZ went through in the 70s with heavy numbers re-establishing from the Pac. islands then later through family reunification.

          Now you are getting the numbers where those communities will provide their ownplayers. Ive no idea what the growth of these communities is like but Im guessing its significant, and like NZ, will continue to produce rugby or League talent, both sports being by far the first sport/s of choice. From what I can see you dont see them anywhere near as prevalent in Oz rules, Football, Cricket.

          Even the Wallabies are starting to reflect a 50/50 PI, non PI base, and if the sport continues to be unfavourable for new generations of non PI players, expect that percentage to shift slowly, but surely, especially on the more physical or athletic positions…props, midfield and back three.

        • September 4th 2017 @ 9:45am
          Onside said | September 4th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Agree Geoff, but for whatever reason, they’re an asset.

          But hey, *”PI Aussies” also get poached to Europe,

          (*which of course was your point in the first place)

      • September 4th 2017 @ 6:14pm
        Matt M said | September 4th 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

        I don’t think the real villain is the almighty dollar, its the inability of ARU to setup a grassroots rugby conveyor belt like New Zealand has.

        Players will always be leaving overseas for various reasons. What Australia needs is a steady stream of replacements coming through the system, again like NZ has.

        Obviously Beale and Genia are both good players, but realistically how many more years of service do you think Australian rugby will get out of them? I think the money would have been better spending developing the next generation/s.

        • September 4th 2017 @ 6:37pm
          ads2600 said | September 4th 2017 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

          Agree 100%. Thought I was the only one who thought this way?.

        • Columnist

          September 4th 2017 @ 6:53pm
          Geoff Parkes said | September 4th 2017 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

          It’s really both though isn’t it Matt?
          Clearly player development is critical,as you say, but there’s also not much point in churning them out if they can’t be retained.

          But until that ‘conveyor belt’ is established, the more experienced players that can be enticed home the better. It’s very important that the Wallabies and Australian SR sides start winning. Out of all of the things fans want, I think that’s the one they want the most.

          • September 4th 2017 @ 7:35pm
            Matt M said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

            Surely the European market isn’t too far off reaching a saturation point for SH players? I doubt French or English fans wants to see their team devoid of local players? And at some point the local unions will realize it effects the national team too. Imagine if all the Aviva teams had foreign flyhalfs, can’t see the RFU allowing that.

            While I can see the short term benefit of enticing players like Beale and Genia back, it doesn’t address the long term issue of player development.

            In my opinion player development, or lack of, is the primary reason for the current state of rugby in Australia.

            • September 5th 2017 @ 4:20am
              Ridzenieks said | September 5th 2017 @ 4:20am | ! Report

              What might be the stat on total professional rugby players in Europe? Clearly some confusion when second tier clubs and semi-professional players are in the grey area. But, against that, it seems on casual observation that there might be the same percentages of SH players at all levels.

            • Columnist

              September 5th 2017 @ 6:07am
              Geoff Parkes said | September 5th 2017 @ 6:07am | ! Report

              That’s happening now Matt, there are restrictions. For example, Leinster has Sexton and Carbery at flyhalf, even if they decided they wanted Beauden Barrett it would need to be approved first by the Irish union and well, obviously that wouldn’t happen.

              But the point is, even if the number of SH players reaches saturation point, the type of player targeted changes. So to stick to the flyhalf example, instead of NH sides picking up Tom Taylor, Jimmy Gopperth, Tyler Bleyendaal, Daniel Bowden, Simon Hickey – all NZ Super Rugby flyhalves – they will instead throw money at the top tier, ie Barrett, Cruden and Sopoaga.

              And Cruden, as we’ve now seen, has gone.

    • September 4th 2017 @ 7:19am
      Gewurtz said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Is it April 1st again?

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