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Three simple NRC tweaks that could have big impacts

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert


137 Have your say

    Last weekend’s Pasifika round was a raging success around the grounds, with everyone getting among the festivities as part of a big day of rugby.

    The Greater Sydney Rams enjoyed one of their biggest home crowds in their four seasons of existence, with two quality schoolboy games on the card before the Rams and Fijian Drua ran out onto a great-looking renovated TG Millner playing surface.

    It instantly reminded me a similar event in Sydney last season, which similarly produced a huge crowd by NRC standards, becoming one of the surprise hits of 2016. That got me thinking of some simple things that could be implemented for not much money but which will have an immediate impact.

    More event days
    Simple, logical scheduling. More incentive for people to go to an NRC game. If people are used to going and watching several grades on a day, then play curtain-raisers before the NRC games. Schools games, university games, women’s games, sevens mini-tournaments.

    Any of them would make a difference – but like last year’s Pacific Day at Concord Oval, more NRC double-headers. Obviously they’re not going to work in Canberra, Perth or Melbourne, but why not in Sydney and Brisbane?

    Ballymore. Concord. North Sydney Oval if not required for domestic cricket. Give people more reason to go to games.

    And I haven’t even mentioned NRC games as curtain-raisers for Test Matches. There has only ever been one NRC curtain-raiser, before the Brisbane Bledisloe in 2014 – but this year alone, it could’ve happened in Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, and the Barbarians game in Sydney. Why wouldn’t you?

    Consistent entry prices
    Whether it’s no cost or very low cost, I don’t really care; just make it consistent. This season we’ve seen free entry in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane; $5 on the Gold Coast and possibly for Queensland Country’s game on the Sunshine Coast too; $10 in Canberra and some NSW Country games; and upwards of $15 and $20 in Sydney. It’s crazy.

    Are we really saying a game in Sydney is three times better than one on the Gold Coast? Twice as good one in Canberra? It’s madness if we are, and of course they’re not.

    Free entry has definitely helped grow the crowds in Perth and Melbourne this season and should be seriously considered. If costs absolutely must be recouped through the gate, then surely we can cap it at a fiver nationally.

    The one exception would be the aforementioned event days or double-headers. Ten dollars for two NRC games is still exceptional value, and that would suitable, but $20 for one game? I don’t think so.

    (Image: Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

    Fox streamed games on Foxtel
    Have you ever noticed the Fox Sports More channel on your Foxtel box or on the Foxtel App? It’s their extra channel they use for extra sport that they can’t fit onto any of the other six channels between 501 and 506, particularly on weekends.

    This weekend coming my guide tells me it will have surfing, boxing and LPGA golf, and all live. I’ve seen Test and one-day cricket on there in the past, and the Sunday NRC game last weekend between Sydney and Brisbane City was on there too.

    For three seasons now I’ve been asking the question of the NRC powers that be if they will lobby Fox Sports to show the live streamed games simultaneously on Fox Sports More (or via the ‘red button’, as it known originally), and I know the question has been asked every time.

    I don’t know why it’s never happened.

    But it can be done. Fox have even done it in the past, showing early rounds of the FFA Cup that are covered by their lower-cost live stream crews both online and on Fox Sports More. Indeed in some cases where multiple FFA Cup games have been played simultaneously they have often switched to a ‘streamed’ game heading into overtime on the broadcast channel of the ‘main’ game.

    So why not for NRC games too? Fox Sports have paid for the broadcast and digital rights, but why not make it as accessible as possible for their customers? Why do we need separate accounts for TV and the Fox Sports website to watch the same competition? Why make it harder for people than it needs to be?

    And they use footage from the streamed games on Fox Sports News as it is, so clearly there’s no issue with the quality of the video. Why not get that footage in front of as many people as possible?

    It can be done, I know it can. In fact it makes no sense not to.

    Like I say, these are all simple, small tweaks, but I bet they’d make a huge difference to the competition as a whole.

    (Image: Jason O’Brien/Getty Images)

    Round 7
    1pm AEDT: Greater Sydney vs Queensland Country; TG Milliner Oval, Sydney – Streamed live.
    3pm AEDT: v NSW Country Eagles vs Perth Spirit; Scully Park, Tamworth – Live on Fox Sports 501.

    2.30pm AEDT: Canberra Vikings vs Sydney Rays; Viking Park – Live on Fox Sports 501.
    4pm local/5pm AEDT: Brisbane City vs Melbourne Rising; Wests Rugby Club, Toowong, Brisbane – Streamed live.

    Bye: Fijian Drua.

    NRC ladder
    Canberra 20, Fiji 20, Queensland Country 19, Perth 15;
    Brisbane City 13, NSW Country 9, Greater Sydney 9, Sydney 5, Melbourne 4.

    Hot damn, four from four last week, finally! Which probably means this week is really going to stink it up.

    The real worry this weekend is that the four games look to have obvious favourites, and there’s no evident logic to pick against those four favourites.

    So I’m going with Queensland Country, Perth, Canberra, and Brisbane City, but I just want the record to reflect that I am absolutely certain there will be at least one upset somewhere.

    Regardless, enjoy your NRC rugby this weekend. I hope you can get to a game near you.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (137)

    • Roar Guru

      October 12th 2017 @ 9:08am
      John R said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      It may not work for our comp, considering the size and popularity of it.

      But personally I’d love some mid week games, ala the Mitre 10 Cup.

      It’s great being able to chuck on a game after getting home from work on a Wednesday/Thursday evening.

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Remember they were originally Thursday nights broadcast.

        There must have been some issue with that.

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 9:21am
          John R said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          Good point, the numbers mustn’t have stacked up, which is fair enough.

          Maybe a few more years down the track if gets enough scale.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 10:17am
            Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            I wonder if it was also related to the part time players and their availability.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 1:41pm
              Bakkies said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

              ‘I wonder if it was also related to the part time players and their availability.’

              People who play the game often train on a Thursday which makes it difficult to attend the match. Being a school night doesn’t help either

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 3:06pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

                Grand Finals were in September for all competitions outside Premier Grade and Premier Grade clubs before NRC.

              • Roar Pro

                October 12th 2017 @ 7:17pm
                Crazy Horse said | October 12th 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

                Our club is still training for 7s.

          • Columnist

            October 12th 2017 @ 10:27am
            Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            TWAS, I reckon that was a small factor, but the original thinking for the Thursday night game was to make a ‘rugby night’ on Fox Sports, with an NZ game into an NRC game into their rugby show (which was on Thursdays at the time).

            John, they hoped the live game might give the show a good lead-in, but it didn’t work out that way. The move to Sat-Sun games brought better viewing numbers immediately..

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 10:35am
              Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

              There you go.

              It would seem that’s what the people wanted if more people are watching.

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 10:56am
              John R said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

              Thanks for the background info Brett, all makes sense, can’t argue with their logic can ya??!

              • Columnist

                October 12th 2017 @ 11:27am
                Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

                No, not really. And the net result was more games broadcast, so it’s a good move all round..

        • October 13th 2017 @ 6:19am
          soapit said | October 13th 2017 @ 6:19am | ! Report

          probably nrl increasing their thurs night games defeated the purpose a fair bit

    • October 12th 2017 @ 9:11am
      Not so super said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      Could is the operative word
      Probably won’t matter

    • October 12th 2017 @ 9:34am
      Footy Frank said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      Hi Brett,
      The Qld Country v Brisbane City game at Noosa was free admission. It was great to see this standard of rugby in the region. I thought the crowd size was disappointing but there was very limited promotion of the game locally. Noosa Dolphins let a great opportunity slip. I would be surprised if they were invited to host again in the future.

      • Columnist

        October 12th 2017 @ 10:28am
        Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        Thanks Frank, I actually thought that might have been the case, but couldn’t verify as I submitted the column.

        I’ll happily stand corrected on that one.

      • October 12th 2017 @ 1:48pm
        Bakkies said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

        They should give it another crack. Qld Country play too many games at Bond Uni.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 2:31pm
          Adsa said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          The QRU have no idea – Qld Countries other games to reach out to the rugby supporters in the bush are Noosa and Ipswich.

    • Roar Guru

      October 12th 2017 @ 10:01am
      Machooka said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      Onya Brett… always thinking on the up side to the future of the NRC!

      And why not as it’s only been here for a little while… so ‘tweaks’ are most definitely needed, wanted, and required. Hence, ALL your suggestions have merit, and therefore I would endorse them. But your last suggestion as to ‘curtain-raisers’ is an absolute must. It’s a no-brainer!

      Concord Oval… geez haven’t seen that in a sentence to do with rugby for some time!?! 😉

      • Roar Guru

        October 12th 2017 @ 10:28am
        Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        There really needs to be some tweaks to the NSW teams so they actually make some sense.

        Excluding players from teams because they play for the wrong club doesn’t make sense.

        Geographical patchwork quilts to determine what clubs the teams align with doesn’t either.

        I see a big Sydney problem being that the best future for the comp with 4 Super Rugby teams is a split of 2 teams per Super Rugby franchise.

        NSW Country going to the Brumbies and the Spirt/Force going to the Rebels for squad allocation makes sense.

        But how would Sydney work with 2 teams? Rays is a great set up, Rams as traditionally Western Sydney captures 2 of the weakest clubs in their traditional 4 and where does Randwick and Easts ultimately fit in?

        Surely Randwick and Easts becoming part of the Rays makes sense, but what are they then? Where is the split? Eastern Rays? North Eastern Rays? Coastal Rays?

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 10:50am
          jeznez said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          Sydney geographically makes most sense split 3 ways the way the original ARC split it.

          North – Norths, Gordon, Manly, Warringah

          West – Wests, Eastwood, Parramatta, Penrith

          South East – Uni, Randwick, Easts, Souths

          The two team model has to ignore who is from where a bit and just follow the football model (both codes) a Sydney and a West Sydney team.

          Feed Uni and the Western teams to one side and everyone else to the other.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 10:53am
            DaniE said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            I think that’s a logical split Jeznez. I think if the Sydney NRC sides are legitimately representative, they’ll get more buy in.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
            Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

            The problem is that leaves the Shute Shield feeding 3 times the teams as smaller comps while the local Super Rugby franchise is split 3 ways, not 2 or 1.

            Shute Shield has more quality players but it’s a double whammy it (less players from above and more needed from below).

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 11:20am
              jeznez said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

              I don’t disagree, hence why I put forward a two team
              split as well.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 12:12pm
            sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

            Jeznez – Absolutely!

            Precisely what I’ve suggested many times.

            However, if only two teams I would suggest a traditional north-south split, with both sides accessing north-west & south-west respectively.

            North-west & north harbour – Norths, Penrith, Eastwood, Gordon, Manly, Warringah.

            South-west & south harbour – Souths, Wests, Easts, Parramatta, Randwick, SU.

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm
              Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

              So if we can just get to teams roughly 80km drive apart to align, we are all set?

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 12:19pm
              sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report


              Furthermore, while a west-east split might work for soccer & footy, it doesn’t work for rugby.

              Since, as we all know, the majority of fans, money & power reside in the east & north (east) shore.

              Penrith, Parramatta & West Harbour are all barely surviving in Shute Shield. There’s three of your Western Sydney NRC clubs. Doesn’t & won’t work in a two-way split.

          • October 12th 2017 @ 1:53pm
            Bakkies said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

            That’s the original ARC setup Jez. Obviously south east was known as the Sydney Fleet.

            It’s a disgrace that Parramatta and Penrith are unrepresented currently by a NRC side

            The Spirit should have nothing to do with Victorian Rugby. It isn’t their responsibility to be a feeder for that basketcase.

            NSW Country to the Brumbies makes sense as the ACT was originally a part of the NSWCRU before forming their own union. It depends on how much involvement the NSWCRU has in the side as they are an affiliate of the NSWRU.

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm
              Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

              Your axe to grind against the VRU are hilarious.

              The Spirit would get half the Rebels NRC players and a direct pathway for their own players in an alliance.

              Why would they want that…

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:14pm
                Bakkies said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

                Why would they want to form another alliance with another organisation they don’t trust?

                I suppose it might help the Rebels get another $6 million.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 3:40pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

                Because it would provide them with Super Rugby players for their NRC team and be nothing like the Alliance Agreement anyway…

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:23pm
                andrewM said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

                I’d suggest TWAS that the Rising need WA rugby more than the Spirit need Victorian Rugby. Pray tell what form of Alliance are you thinking of?

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 3:39pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                Exactly what I said…

                Not sure exactly what Rising need out of WA Rugby.

                In 2018 they will likely have 25% of Australian Super Rugby players playing for them based off the current situation.

              • October 13th 2017 @ 8:33am
                Bakkies said | October 13th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

                ‘Exactly what I said…’

                No it wasn’t

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 5:02pm
            sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:02pm | ! Report


            In actual fact, the ARC never had the split you suggest. They should have but they totally stuffed it up.

            Thanks to John Singleton’s lobbying, the Central Coast Rays, comprising exclusively players from Manly, Warringah, Norths & Gordon, to play at Gosford.

            To fill the missing hole on the north shore, the ARU got the Sydney Fleet, comprising players from Randwick, Easts, SU & Souths, to play half their matches at North Sydney.

            A monumental stuff-up. 10 years on & ARU have only learnt some of their mistakes while they continue to make some of the same mistakes over again.

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 10:54am
          Machooka said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

          Don’t necessarily disagree with this TWAS… and as Brett is aware, because we’ve had previous debate about this, I don’t really care where the players are from regards clubs etc, but I do care about the geo representative footprint, present or past, for the Sydney teams in the NRC. And, for mine, at the moment it’s confusing. A dog’s breakfast comes to mind.

          I’m Sydney born and breed. I’m also Nth Shore/ Beaches born and breed. But I now live, and have for some time, in the Inner West of Sydney. So when the NRC was launched I hitched my wagon to the Rams. It made perfect sense as their home ground, Concord Oval, was just down the road. Now my Rams aren’t the Rams of old… and TG Milner is their home ground. Also, my jersey looks kinda like an Eastwood jersey. Wtf?

          So I think there is some serious ‘tweaking’ to do with the two Sydney teams. Will it be happen? Well..

          Further, I’ve been through this ‘change’ before with my Nth Sydney Bears back in the day… and look what happened there!?!

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 11:17am
            John R said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

            Balmain area?

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 11:26am
            jeznez said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

            One of the problems is the Shute Shield clubs being asked to own and run the NRC teams.

            Eastwood originally abstained from any involvement in the Rams but are now the primary or sole entity running them? Anyone with a better grasp of this than me able to shed some light?

            It is a backwards model, imagine if Uni own the Stars, who in turn own the Tahs, who in turn run the ARU?!? Just wouldn’t make sense and would ensure Uni were strong but lead to less ideal outcomes up the chain.

            • Columnist

              October 12th 2017 @ 11:30am
              Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

              It’s an imperfect model, for sure, Jez. The Rays are being run as a decent JV between the four northern clubs, NSW Country is part JV, part private investers, and then we have the Rams situation which is now 100% Eastwood.

              In my mind, the sooner the NSWRU get involved with the running of the teams, the better.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 11:35am
                DaniE said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

                Thanks for the clarification on Eastwood/Rams, Brett

              • Columnist

                October 12th 2017 @ 12:00pm
                Geoff Parkes said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

                Hi Brett

                In light of our previous discussion on this, I think you’ve nailed the solution. This should be a NSWRU matter – obviously in agreement with the clubs – but it needs ownership and direction from the state union.

                In a perfect world this would ensure common understanding and alignment from the ground up, through the clubs, NRC teams, through the NSWRU, to the ARU.

                If this happens, everyone will benefit and I’m sure engagement with the NRC will go to another level.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 12:40pm
                Machooka said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                ‘… and then we have the Rams situation which is now 100% Eastwood.’

                Well, knock me down with a feather… not!

                Thanks Brett for confirming a long held sneaky suspicion of mine.

                How do these things happen without the NSWRU knowledge/ involvement/ governance?

                Or should I not ask… or go there with that!?!

              • October 12th 2017 @ 1:59pm
                Bakkies said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

                ‘How do these things happen without the NSWRU knowledge/ involvement/ governance?’

                I think the original tenders for the competition has expired so they had to re-submit a new tender to continue in the comp. Haven’t the Rams got some Manly players too?

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 11:31am
              DaniE said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

              Eastwood’s comment on their NRC involvement. Looks like they’re in partnership with the Rams:

            • October 12th 2017 @ 11:40am
              AndyS said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

              It isn’t backward, as it would make no more sense than the Waratahs owning the Stars, and then also owning SU. It is a shame Sydney can’t get a settled structure, but IMO the ideal would be each of the clubs in a region part owning and feeding players to their NRC team, which then pays them to train full time. That would mean professional players in Premier Rugby, paid for from a separate revenue stream as grassroots, each NRC team acting as a regional player development program, and all independent of SR.

              There would then be a separation, with players graduating into whatever SR team needed them. SR would assume the role of paying them, and afterward they would return to their NRC team and play with their old mates, including the new bloke being paid by the salary cap money freed up when he moved up.

              That said, the ownership of the NRC teams by the clubs is probably a nice to have. You could get more or less the same result, so long as the non-SR players are still close enough to the NRC base year ’round so they can be involved in the player development program.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 1:57pm
              Bakkies said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

              ‘It is a backwards model, imagine if Uni own the Stars, who in turn own the Tahs, who in turn run the ARU?!? ‘

              Couldn’t have said it better myself. I think Warren Livingstone was kicking in money in to the Stars.

              Randwick and Easts basically got involved in NSW Country as they couldn’t afford to tender a side themselves.

        • October 12th 2017 @ 11:27am
          AndyS said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

          I think looking at splitting SR teams downward dooms the NRC to irrelevance. The SR players in a team should be those that it developed and who have links in the community (like in NZ), not just half a team of randoms that change every year as the SR list alters.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 11:44am
            Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

            But that’s not how it happens in NZ.

            It’s completely independent and players follow offers.

            It’s entirely possible a player could be developed by Southland, player Super Rugby for the Chiefs and Mitre 10 Cup for Auckland.

            • October 12th 2017 @ 12:07pm
              AndyS said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

              As players choice, and in such a scenario the norm would probably be a move to Auckland for development and then the SR contract. What you are proposing would be regardless of his development, he plays for the Chiefs and therefore gets instructed that he has to play for either Waikato or Counties.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

                So links with the community aren’t necessary when the player chooses?

              • October 12th 2017 @ 3:39pm
                AndyS said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:39pm | ! Report

                I suspect most choose the team they already have links with, which is why M10 Championship teams still get SR players showing out for them. Better for engagement they get the option, than every player being told to ignore it and being directed where to go. At worst, leaving it to the player would be no different, at best it would be far better. Personally, I would be looking at ways to encourage players to return to their roots, not institute a system that ignores them.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 3:52pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

                Championship teams still get Super Rugby players because they are paid – and there is only so much to go around at the 7 Premiership teams, they still play teams from each Championship and Premiership and there is seasonal promotion.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 9:37pm
                AndyS said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:37pm | ! Report

                I don’t think that’s true. As a random way to select some players, I just looked out the players listed in Pretty much all have only played for one M10 team, it pre-dated getting a SR contract, they continue to return to it even if it isn’t local to their SR team, and the teams certainly not all being Premiership…

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 12:04pm
            John R said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

            Michael Alaalatoa can’t have too strong a tie to Manawatu, considering he plays Super Rugby for the Crusaders and is from Sydney.

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 11:43am
          PeterK said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:43am | ! Report

          easy solution 2 nsw teams NSW Country and Sydney City like in Qld

          Alignment is easy, every shute shield supporter can support Sydney City.

          Players can come from any shute shield club.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 1:46pm
            sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

            Why do so many people still think NSW Country & Qld Country can work in a comp striving to be next big thing on the domestic market?

            For all it’s many other sins, at least the ARC didn’t fall for this one.

            We’ve trawled the reasons ad nauseam why they don’t work. NSW Country & Old Country work best as development teams for regional players to be recognised by talent scouts from pro & semi-pro teams.

            In any case, the best country players seeking pro contracts have already moved to the big lights.

            Their days (NSWC & QC) in the big league are sadly past.

            You’re better off basing NSWC in Newcastle & calling it Newcastle-Hunter, & QC in Townsville & calling it North Queensland.

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 12:07pm
          sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          TWAS – You don’t say!

          Now where have I heard these arguments before…..?

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 12:09pm
            Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

            From everybody who has said it all works fine everywhere but NSW since the start?

        • October 12th 2017 @ 2:51pm
          sittingbison said | October 12th 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

          Spirit going to Rebels does NOT make sense.

          • Roar Guru

            October 12th 2017 @ 3:09pm
            Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

            Well it would be the Rebels players going to the Spirit actually…

            • October 12th 2017 @ 4:23pm
              sittingbison said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

              Laughable….unless it’s the Force guts coming back

      • Columnist

        October 12th 2017 @ 10:32am
        Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        From memory Chookman, there was around 13,000 into Suncorp by the end of the NRC game in 2014, and it was played a good while before kick-off in the Test that night.

        So it could work, you’ve just got to provide the incentive for people to go early. There are requirements for the field to be available for warm-ups, technical checks, etc – but a 4.30/5pm NRC kickoff before the 8pm Test is very doable..

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 10:56am
          Machooka said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          Totally agree Brett… it’s a perfect spot to showcase the NRC in front of large gate that may not have otherwise been bothered to see a live NRC game before!

    • October 12th 2017 @ 10:24am
      Richard said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report


      These are good suggestions but remember what is was like three ago. Steady consistent accumulation of small is all this competition needs to keep doing. There is clearly a ‘real’ product developing here and ARU needs to keep adding kindling to fire so that it can really take off.

      • Columnist

        October 12th 2017 @ 10:33am
        Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Oh, spot on Richard, and we’ve only really had every game consistently covered in the last two seasons.

        “Adding kindling to the fire” is a really good way of putting it, I agree completely..

    • October 12th 2017 @ 10:46am
      Scott S said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

      AS far as the NRC is concerned why not give me something to cheer for. Living in Sydney do I cheer for Greater Sydney, Sydney or NSW Country? Why not, for example, North Sydney and South Sydney. Not to understand that all football following is tribal is to lose touch with the fans.

      • Columnist

        October 12th 2017 @ 10:59am
        Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        Scott, I have serious question for you, because this is a common complaint from Sydney rugby people that I don’t really understand and can’t put my finger on.

        Why can’t you just pick a team?

        Why do you need it laid out on a platter for you?

        • October 12th 2017 @ 11:59am
          Hugh_96 said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

          Hi Brett, I agree with Scott but not sure I can give you a valid reason, it’s just subjective, maybe it’s the ‘vibe’. We go down to pretty much all the Manly Marlins home games, last year went to all the Rays games at Rat Park but this year none, one of the reasons being a fair number of Manly and Warrinagh players were playing for the other Sydney teams, so didn’t have the same connection as last year. Maybe it’s that ‘insular peninsula’ thing, I don’t know but it is what it is.
          Also the $20 entry a bit steep.

          • Columnist

            October 12th 2017 @ 12:22pm
            Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

            See, this just underlines why I don’t this Hugh. Manly and Warringah have players who have joined them from other clubs. Ex-Manly and Warringah players are at other clubs.

            This doesn’t seem to be a huge problem at club level, and it’s literally no problem at all when it happens at Super Rugby level. So why is it a deal-breaker at NRC level?

            (You have my absolute agreement about $20 entry though!)

            • October 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm
              Hugh_96 said | October 12th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

              Brett, I don’t know. I think I see Super Rugby as different and there will always be player movement between seasons, which is fine and to be expected. My son has already asked who do I think the Tahs will be getting.
              Rightly or wrongly we probably see the NRC as a follow on from the Shute Shield. Sure Manly will get new players but we follow them for the season. When the Shute Shield finishes if we want some more rugby the NRC can provide that with the Rays (preferably) representing the best of the 4 clubs. Also with the games played at Rat Park it has a similar Shute Shield feel.
              Maybe it will change over the long term.

              • Columnist

                October 12th 2017 @ 4:53pm
                Geoff Parkes said | October 12th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

                I think there’s something in this Hugh.

                Everybody sees SR as a fully fledged professional/franchise competition. Fans align with their state team but understand that players transfer to and from franchises if it suits them or their franchise. The normal to and from of any pro sport competition.

                The NRC is not really professional. The money that is there for players is really bits and pieces. It’s played on club grounds, not stadiums. It gets piecemeal TV and media coverage, not the coverage of a professional, national sport. For this and other reasons I think that most people see it as an extension of club rugby, a pathway to SR.

                If that is the mindset, then for club members to engage with the NRC, there needs to be a clear, unambiguous link from their club, to their NRC team. If it turns out that some players get transferred to other teams because that’s where their opportunity is, then so be it, the key engagement will still be because of the club alignment.

                I get what Brett is saying, to just pick a team and follow it, but I think you’re right, there is far more chance of the NRC engaging the ‘average club member’ if it the club actually says ‘this is our team and this is who we are, and this is where our players will (mostly) get their opportunity.

                This would be enhanced if there was a requirement for all NRC sides to comprise say 75% located within their geographic area, with a draft or free rein for the other 25%, something like that.

              • Columnist

                October 12th 2017 @ 7:59pm
                Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

                Thanks Hugh, for outlining this. I should clarify, I’m not having a go at anyone who says they want or need more connection, or reason the connect, I just struggle with the evident difference in the standards comps are being held to..

              • October 12th 2017 @ 11:14pm
                rebel said | October 12th 2017 @ 11:14pm | ! Report

                Brett I think most Sydney people should be able to choose a side as the teams are pretty much geographical. The only side that has never really fit in is my Rebels, they have always felt tacked on somewhere. I do go for the Rams but it is getting tougher to maintain a connection with them. TG Milner is not exactly around the corner.
                I find I am more just following Souths players moreso than a team.
                I think a North, City and West split would be better with each team taking a match to the country. This would really only require Souths aligning with Country but dropping the false Country moniker.
                I agree this is not an NRC problem, it is a Sydney one. However getting the SS clubs to buy into these teams has created the mess, unlike in Qld where the QRU run the show.
                Anyway, this is just the cosmetic stuff as the main drivers for the NRC is working in bridging the gap to SR.

        • Roar Guru

          October 12th 2017 @ 5:13pm
          sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

          Because Brett,

          It’s reasonable that fans feel a need to connect with a team. Not something manufactured just thrust upon them.

          Maybe Canberrans are quite happy to have the Vikings thrust upon them – take it or leave it.

          Perhaps Sydneysiders are more discerning, or fussier.

          North Harbour Rays works quite well for its region, but Greater Sydney Rams has become a nonsense.

          As for NSW Country, that’s a joke, being neither a genuine country team nor representative of the east & south of Sydney.

          NRC won’t work until every team, repeat every team, relates to its constituency.

          • Columnist

            October 12th 2017 @ 8:01pm
            Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:01pm | ! Report

            I reckon you can leave the condescending comments who’s more or less discerning out of it, Sheek, if I’m honest, especially given your oft-stated stance here.

            • Roar Guru

              October 12th 2017 @ 8:14pm
              sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

              So Brett,

              Q1 – Tell me how the Vikings monopoly is good for Canberra?

              Q2 – You don’t think NRC needs to get their teams & fanbases connected properly to succeed?

              Artificial BBL teams might work in cricket, but rugby might need something more sustainable.

              Anyway, for me, the Australian national comp, isn’t these NRC teams.

              It’s New South Wales, Queensland, ACT, Victoria, Western Australia, etc. As you know…..

              • Columnist

                October 12th 2017 @ 9:30pm
                Brett McKay said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

                Pass, Sheek. Nothing I say is going to alter your my-way-or-the-highway position, so I’m not going to bother.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 9:39pm
                sheek said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:39pm | ! Report


              • October 12th 2017 @ 9:42pm
                Fionn said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

                Vikings monopoly isn’t ideal for Canberra.

                But nevertheless it’s great to have a Canberra team to support when Super Rugby isn’t on.

              • October 12th 2017 @ 9:49pm
                Bakkies said | October 12th 2017 @ 9:49pm | ! Report

                Particularly the red and white which the Vikings insist the team wears. This is despite being in a national comp where people outside of the Canberra region can’t relate to the Tuggeranong club and a ACT team wearing those colours.

                The former head coach didn’t even play for them back in the day and listed his club as Wests.

              • Roar Guru

                October 12th 2017 @ 10:16pm
                Train Without A Station said | October 12th 2017 @ 10:16pm | ! Report


                A day ago you refused to acknowledge the fact that Port Adelaide got 45% of the Adelaide AFL crowds because you’re mate told you everybody follows other SANFL teams and dislikes them.

          • October 15th 2017 @ 12:51am
            Bakkies said | October 15th 2017 @ 12:51am | ! Report

            Sheek what needs to happen with NSW Country and Qld Country is to move forward the youth development programs. Have Country representative teams at the junior Gold Cup levels so the boys that aren’t going to boarding school in Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney get exposure to selectors and selective development squad specialist coaching. Then possibly have country schools rep teams at the Australian Schoolboys Championships. They then feed in to the likes of the Cockatoos, Eagles and Qld Country.

            SA do this with their representative tournaments to identify and capture the talent that are still going to school in regional areas.

            I notice that Elders Real Estate have given 30k to NSW Country Juniors but that’s only a drop in the ocean.