The Wrap: Rugby’s critical problem no closer to a solution

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert


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    Wales’ 24-22 win over South Africa over the weekend highlights not only the continued decline of South Africa as a world rugby superpower but underlines the biggest problem facing the game – one that shows no sign of being solved in the foreseeable future.

    Rugby is hell-bent on choking itself to death through overuse.

    In March this year World Rugby announced a new global calendar which – after years of negotiations between national unions, club competitions and players associations – amounted to a modest re-alignment to define a mid-year window in which international rugby can be played free from club commitments.

    The outcome provides for a month’s gap following the completion of the English Premiership and the French Top 14, notionally to provide club players with a definite off-season and national coaches time to prepare their sides properly for their Southern Hemisphere international programs.

    The reaction of Premiership Rugby to this was instructive. Chief executive Mark McCafferty immediately announced he would look at extending the Premiership to take advantage of the free dates, a possibility that is currently being considered by England’s professional game board.

    There are other windows where Test rugby takes precedence – in November to allow inbound tours from the Southern Hemisphere nations and in February and March, when the Six Nations takes place. In both cases, Northern Hemisphere club rugby continues through these windows.

    The upshot is that players in the Northern Hemisphere, in particular, are faced with seasons that are interminably long and that provide very little opportunity for physical and mental respite.

    (Photo: AP)

    McCafferty insists that Premiership Rugby will work with the players union to ensure that there are more weekends off during the season, but this sop to players conveniently ignores research that demonstrates that rather than a week here and there, athletes need a complete offseason break to sufficiently restore tired and damaged bodies in order to allow them to compete again at optimal levels in future seasons.

    It also ignores the notion that players need to ‘escape the bubble’ for a sufficient period to allow them to relax with family and friends and mentally recharge before the grind of a new season begins.

    As it stands at present a short offseason doesn’t allow players to rest sufficiently, and most of them will keep training to ensure that they are in top shape when they resume in case they risk losing their spot. This madness is akin to an office worker taking annual leave but being required to submit a detailed, completed business plan on the morning they arrive back at work – essentially requiring them to keep working while on leave.

    The problem is not confined to the Northern Hemisphere. The Pumas limped to the end of another disappointing Test program, losing 28-19 last week to Ireland, the vast majority of their players living in each other’s pockets for 11 months as Jaguares or Pumas.

    Even if they are not heartily sick of the sight of each other the staleness that has become a feature of their rugby can certainly be put down to this factor.

    The Wallabies season tapered off badly, with a record 53-24 loss at the hands of Scotland. It is not being wise after the event to point to warnings I posted at the time of a meaningless Barbarians fixture in Sydney in October, when the squad – and most definitely the coach – should have been enjoying a few days at home, freshening up for their end of year tour.

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    In recent years New Zealand has struggled with player fatigue compromising their end-of-year tours but, conscious of repeating past mistakes, they fared better this season. The cost of doing so was the use of an astonishing 55 players wearing the All Blacks silver fern this year in what many would say is a cheapening of rugby’s most iconic jumper.

    To understand why this is happening isn’t difficult. By definition professional sport requires money. Money flows overwhelmingly from broadcast rights, and the broadcasters, seeking to maximise their investment from a position of strength, negotiate increased content.

    It is the size of the rugby audience concentrated in the UK and France that underpins the value of those broadcast rights, which works its way back into the game in the form of commensurately higher player salaries.

    Clubs in England and France, determined not to fall behind, eagerly accept whatever revenue flows their way, most of them electing to use that money to buy more and better players in the hope of winning their respective leagues or, at the other end of the scale, avoiding relegation. Those players increasingly come from the Southern Hemisphere nations.

    If there are clubs knocking on the door of the rights holders – BT Sport in the UK and Canal+ in France – to implore them to allow a shorter season without reducing their financial commitment, they are yet to make themselves public.

    (Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

    With a significantly smaller and more fragmented market, the Southern Hemisphere unions – formed into SANZAAR essentially as a ‘together we are stronger’ mechanism – are limited in the ways and means they have to keep their best players at home.

    The national unions have to find ‘big money’ from somewhere, and so it is that they present their national teams at every opportunity as a defence mechanism against the financial might have the Northern Hemisphere clubs.

    Earlier this year New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew admitted to me that 15 Tests per year was too many, but “if we didn’t do it, we’ll go broke”.

    Unlike South Africa, New Zealand – at least this year – didn’t subject their players to an extra week extending into December. They folded their Barbarians fixture into the ‘normal’ schedule – if indeed playing 15 Test matches per year can be considered normal.

    At a future point look for the leaders of Welsh and South African rugby to remind us about how concerns for player welfare are at the forefront of their thinking and planning. But judge them instead by their actions – this weekend forging ahead regardless to squeeze in an extra match outside of the agreed international window solely to boost their cash reserves.

    (Mike Egerton/PA via AP)

    While rugby continues to pile on more ‘content’, two of the most successful sports leagues in the world operate far differently. The NFL season runs for five months, with 16 regular season matches and a maximum of 20 matches for the Super Bowl finalists.

    In the AFL players enjoy a definite four-month break from playing, helping to ensure that high playing standards are maintained when they do.

    Both are domestic sports, an advantage in that complexity around management and operation of the game is lessened – but on the other hand, isn’t rugby always keen to spruik about how its genuine international status, with 121 member countries, is a defining strength of the game?

    The AFL has been clever in how it has found a way to give its players a decent rest while maintaining an almost indecently high media profile over the offseason, due in part to the construct of a national women’s competition. Never mind that the standard currently ranges between serviceable and woeful; it is content that a compliant media and fan base is grateful for.

    Ironically rugby did and still does have a similar solution, with the international rugby sevens an entertaining offseason solution for fans desperate for any kind of rugby fix, using male and female players outside of regular professional 15-a-side clubs.

    But instead of being allowed a window and a focus of their own, sevens now runs concurrently with professional 15-a-side rugby and in doing so has become just another element clogging the rugby calendar.

    Charlotte Caslick Rugby Sevens Australia Rio 2016 Olympic Games

    (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

    In the professional era, rugby has so far proven itself incapable of understanding or adopting the mantra that ‘less is more’. But how is it that tensions can be resolved?

    Clubs will only grumble for so long about having to pay the wages of players absent on international duty, some of whom return to the club injured.

    National unions will only accept for so long the primacy of the international game being trampled upon by overly ambitious, ego-driven club owners.

    Players will only accept for so long that they must continue to perform as circus animals, with inadequate offseasons that serve to diminish their enjoyment of the game and potentially shorten their careers.

    Since McCafferty’s brazen notice of intent to increase the length of the Premiership season, talk of a potential players strike has been bandied about. But if it ever did come to that, put your money on the players achieving nothing other than learning who really holds the aces.

    The players union in New Zealand has a close and constructive relationship with the New Zealand Rugby Union and player outcomes are considered to be superior to those in the UK and Australia, where the quality and effectiveness of player advocacy has been questioned.

    This week most Super Rugby squads return to full training, minus their international players involved in the Northern Hemisphere tours. While those players are subject to a mandatory stand-down period, many will be feeling anxious that they are not with their teammates and their coaches, helping them prepare for Round 1, beginning on February 18.

    It is the way of professional rugby that, because there is too much of it in all of its guises, everything becomes compromised. Instead, it is compromise that is required – a circuit breaker that will result in the game being treated as one whole piece, not an arena for clubs and unions to compete with each other for money and control.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for that change – as necessary as it is – to come anytime soon.

    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 (196)

    • December 4th 2017 @ 6:59am
      Onside said | December 4th 2017 @ 6:59am | ! Report


      • December 5th 2017 @ 7:15pm
        terrence said | December 5th 2017 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

        Exactly right Onside, ”S”. Hear you loud and clear.

        But to expand on that ”S”, why don’t the Wallabies just have short-term contracts to Q-Cup and NSW Cup rugby league players (not NRL players, we don’t want to disrupt the premier code, most tribal supported code, with a massive eyes on screens ratings) to play for the Wallabies.

        The tier two league players would be tougher physically and mentally than the Super Rugby players as they went through the public school system (as opposed to the effeminate/overly protective private school system), are used to playing for close to 80 minutes a game, with the defense back 10 metres so they are use to big hits.

        Here’s a team from last years Q-Cup and NSW Cup that would beat the All Blacks and win a World Cup but not affect the NRL season.

        15 Luke Sharp (Wyong Roos)
        14 Jonathan Reuben (Townsville Blackhawks)
        13 Brad Parker (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles)
        12 Billy Walters (Easts Tigers)
        11 Tom Hughes (Newcastle Knights)
        10: Brodie Croft (Easts Tigers)
        9. Mitch Rein (Penrith Panthers)
        8. Scott Sorenson (Mounties)
        7. Rhys Martin (Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs)
        6. Cheyne Whitelaw (North Sydney Bears)
        5. Sam Anderson (Redcliffe Dolphins)
        4. Jamil Hopoate (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles)
        3. Matt Lodge (Redcliffe Dolphins)
        2. Blake Leary (Townsville Blackhawks)
        1. Kurt Dillon (Newtown Jets)

        Coaches: Ben Walker / Shane Walker (Ipswich Jets)

        So the Super Rugby players have something to play for, include them on the bench and rest of the squad in the unlikely event that these players get tired playing for 38 minutes a game with a 1-metre defensive rule.

        We all know it makes sense!!! No more need to say “S” any more!

        • December 6th 2017 @ 1:30pm
          Marto said | December 6th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          Brody Croft from Churchie will be a Superstar for the Melbourne Storm..Of course THE ARU missed him as he is from Queensland.

          • December 6th 2017 @ 6:22pm
            terrence said | December 6th 2017 @ 6:22pm | ! Report


            You are spot on.

            Brodie is a darn fine player and will certainly make his presence felt in the NRL this year, concerning that the QRU/ARU didn’t see the potential or get a signature down. Maybe his path to Super Rugby was explained to him like the NSWRU/ARU explained to Angus Crichton (follow the path you’ll make your Super Rugby debut at 22, Wallabies debut at 25?).

            I know St Laurence’s left the GPS in 1920, but how did the QRU/ARU miss Cooper Cronk in the early 2000’s?

            Then again the Broncos missed Smith, Slater, Cronk and Thurston at the same time!

            Makes you wonder…

    • December 4th 2017 @ 7:13am
      Onside said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      Supply and demand. NH money attracts SH players. SH money attracts PI players.

      More players than ever are making a living from what was once an amateur game.

      The opportunity exists for more players to replace either the injured or just worn out.

      Super Rugby, 6 Nations, Currie Cup, World Cups, 7’s 10,s ,if you get paid, it’s a job.

      • December 4th 2017 @ 7:40am
        VanMac said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        I read the article…then shrugged.

        I read Onside’s response…& envisioned a nail being hit on the head.

      • December 4th 2017 @ 12:58pm
        Harry said | December 4th 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        “SH money attracts PI players.”

        Haven’t watched much of the European competitions, have you?

    • December 4th 2017 @ 7:39am
      Cynical Play said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Player management goes out the window when teams are required to play 14 or 15 tests a year on the back of domestic competitions. Fans lay all the blame of poor performance on the coach and a few players when fatigue and injury contribute significantly. Australia does not have the luxury of the depth available to NZ to manage their players at the end of a long season and their,s was very long.

      For all those that wanted the BaaBaa game, well…. You got injuries and fatigue and Alan Jones.. A loser game on all fronts.

      SR could easily be 2 or 3 games shorter.. Could easily start in March.

      • Columnist

        December 4th 2017 @ 8:51am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 4th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        Absolutely SR could start later CP.

        But imagine how that discussion would go around the negotiating table – keeping in mind SANZAAR’s current shaky standing with their broadcast partners?

        • December 4th 2017 @ 10:39am
          redbull said | December 4th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

          Shortening Super Rugby is only going to exacerbate the problem, forcing more onus on the national bodies to produce more income. The NPC, Currie Cup and NRC should be the premier competitions rather than the end of season competitions for those not called for national representative. The NH clubs have got it half right. Though they will fall into the trap of focusing overly on the club competitions to the detriment of national. The result will be like football where the national competitions are very 2 and 4 years. Though with the global success of round ball, is that a bad thing? Already rugby coaches (and fans) view national matches through the lens of the RWC. Maybe NH rugby understands that people naturally gravitate to their local tribe before the wider culture

          • Columnist

            December 4th 2017 @ 11:02am
            Geoff Parkes said | December 4th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

            That’s a good point about the RWC redbull. It has been so successful and so dominates the landscape that in the eyes of many, international rugby year on year has been diminished.

            This makes it easier for the clubs to run an argument that international rugby can have its moment in the sun every four years, plus the annual 6N and Rugby Championships, but everything in between should be their domain.

          • Columnist

            December 4th 2017 @ 11:03am
            Geoff Parkes said | December 4th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

            “Maybe NH rugby understands that people naturally gravitate to their local tribe before the wider culture”

            That’s certainly the situation in France redbull.

            • December 4th 2017 @ 11:50am
              redbull said | December 4th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

              And rugby in France has money coming out it ears apparently. So who is pitching the right message to the fans? Your points about AFL should also be well noticed by rugby administrators. It is not by accident that an obscure game is the absolute dominant force in three, maybe four Australian states

    • December 4th 2017 @ 7:45am
      sheek said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report


      My immediate response is to say, “durrrrrr” & not at you, but the people creating this mess.

      Mark McCafferty is one of the many people determined to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. And when it’s dead, no matter, that will be someone else’s problem.

      The usual suspects will have made their pile.

      I have no sympathy. If players want bigger wages, play more rugby. They obviously don’t mind the bigger pay packets. But it’s not only the players.

      Have you noticed how many more suits are involved in the running of rugby, & how big their pay packets are?

      Lordy, lordy, everyone is gilding the lilly.

      We reap what we sow. Rugby deserves the mess it’s in. Especially the ARU!

      • December 4th 2017 @ 8:16am
        sheek said | December 4th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        Sorry, gilding the lily was wrong expression. I meant more like, raiding the storeroom into depletion.

        • December 4th 2017 @ 7:24pm
          elvis said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

          “Clipping the ticket” perhaps?

        • December 5th 2017 @ 7:23pm
          cinque said | December 5th 2017 @ 7:23pm | ! Report

          That makes “gilding the lily” doubly wrong then.

          The actual Shakespeare quote is
          “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily”

      • Columnist

        December 4th 2017 @ 8:25am
        Geoff Parkes said | December 4th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

        It’s an interesting point Sheek that despite players being uneasy about the length of their season, and the impact that increasing physicality is having on their bodies, nobody as yet is putting their hand up to accept lower wages in return for playing less.

        My feeling is that at some future time the player advocacy groups will find a more unified and influential voice and a pressure point will be created.

        • December 4th 2017 @ 8:31am
          sheek said | December 4th 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report


          The one thing that supposedly separates humans from animals, is choice. Animals act purely on instinct, humans can choose.

          There’s the joke about why humans always choose, or mostly choose, to be stupid. You can be part of the system, or decide to be not part of the system.

          There is almost always an opportunity to do something else. Whether that impacts on the decision makers, depends on how many people choose to go elsewhere, whether as players or fans.

          But by doing nothing, we maintain the status quo.

        • December 4th 2017 @ 8:44am
          Onside said | December 4th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

          Re player advocacy ,the ARU has shown the way , prepared to pay an elite player
          like Pocock not to play, saving him for a , once in four year knockout competition,
          in which over the course of just one or two key games , results hopefully make the
          game in Australia look better than what it really is.

          • Roar Rookie

            December 4th 2017 @ 10:30am
            Paulo said | December 4th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            Except that Pocock was actually playing rugby during his sabbatical. So not exactly ‘saving himself’.

            • December 4th 2017 @ 10:41am
              Onside said | December 4th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

              yeah I know Paulo, I don’t get it it really, but was trying to make a point .

              • Roar Rookie

                December 4th 2017 @ 6:42pm
                Paulo said | December 4th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

                Fair point too. Pocock is an odd one and has been discussed a few times on here. Would love if my work paid for me to have a career break but also let me go work for someone else doing my exact job while i had a break from my job…

                But yea, normally sabaticals actually work.

        • Roar Guru

          December 4th 2017 @ 12:20pm
          Rugby Fan said | December 4th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          Geoff wrote: “nobody as yet is putting their hand up to accept lower wages in return for playing less”.

          Billy Vunipola and Alex Corbisiero both said they would take lower wages for a better schedule. Corbisiero tried to arrange a direct contract with the RFU, to help manage his club and country workload. Now retired, he explained recently on his podcast that it wasn’t possible, as it threatened to undermine the agreement between RFU and Premiership.

          Vunipola is still playing but, like Corbisiero, has suffered injuries which threaten his professional longevity. It’s an indication of the pressures on players that, even knowing his injuries, Gatland still wanted Vunipola to strap himself up for a gruelling Lions tour. We know that some players are so keen to play Test rugby that they will push their bodies too far. Credit to Vunipola for having the strength of character to say no. Jonny Wilkinson did the same in 2013.

          On the other had, another former prop, David Flatman, admitted he would not only have been loathe to take less money for a lighter schedule, he might even have agreed to take more for more matches, although he knows how daft that would have been. I suspect Flatman’s attitude is more prevalent among professional players.

          Former international and RFU man Rob Andrew was speaking out recently (he has a book out). He’s concerned that the game is generating far more revenue than before but many parts of the professional game – national unions and clubs alike – are still losing money. In some cases, at a greater rate than ever.

          The main reason is salaries. While no-one begrudges players earning as much as they can in a short career, it’s not sustainable to steer all new revenue to wage inflation. The only real solution seems to be capping squad salaries and sizes alongside an agreement on a less-demanding season structure. No idea how you achieve that goal without falling foul of labour laws and weakening the position of some significant parties.

          So long as our sport is living hand-to-mouth, despite growing revenues, no-one will want to risk changing the structure of current cash cow matches and tournaments. That’s why the Six Nations tournament doesn’t want to move in the calendar, or add any more teams; it’s why a British & Irish Lions tour is both essential and almost impossible to schedule sensibly; it’s why Tier one nations are less keen to play Tier two nations despite wanting to play as many Test matches as possible; it’s why profits from a World Cup get used first to compensate top teams for missing out on revenue from the usual Test schedule; it’s why we can’t get any agreement on sharing tour revenues.

          • Columnist

            December 4th 2017 @ 1:12pm
            Geoff Parkes said | December 4th 2017 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

            Thanks for all of that Rugby Fan.

            If other professional sports are any guide then i suspect it will be almost impossible to ensure that most of the extra revenue that the game generates will go anywhere other than into player salaries.

            That’s interesting about Corbisiero and Vunipola. On the other hand I’ve had a number of players – including Nick Evans at Harlequins – tell me the opposite. I think what this means is that there is little prospect of this happening at an individual player level, but if it was to be a collective view, formulated and advocated through an effective players association, then it might indeed be possible to formulate some form of compromise.

      • December 4th 2017 @ 8:33am
        Onside said | December 4th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Billy Connolly : ‘ Australian coaches can be barnacles on the backside of progress,
        and the ARU go in after the game has been won or lost and bayonet the wounded ‘

      • December 4th 2017 @ 9:30am
        Wisepranker said | December 4th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Sheek .. you say Mark McCafferty is one of the many people determined to kill the goose that laid the golden egg … but Mark as head of Premiership Rugby represents the owners of the English clubs all cases none of these owners are making a profit. Whether they seek to achieve a profit at some stage is debatable but it is difficult to begrudge them trying to make less of a loss each year. He sees the solution to losing less money is to play more rugby .. I will agree that he does not necessarily have players interests in mind but to paint him and the owners as greedy is unfair… without them English club rugby would have crashed and burned a long time ago.

        • December 4th 2017 @ 4:10pm
          sheek said | December 4th 2017 @ 4:10pm | ! Report


          Okay, I accept I may be guilty of tarring all owners with same brush.

          Maybe the answer is the one players won’t like hearing, that is, they are overpaid, no matter the sport.

          I’m a dinosaur for saying this, but perhaps when pro sportsmen in Australia were only semi-pro, & still needed to supplement their income by working alongside their fans Monday to Friday was the best scenario.

          In context, of course.

          WSC happened in 1977 because the administrators were unwilling to compensate the players for the extra tests & tours they were required to commit to.

          A bit of commonsense & empathy would have won the day for the establishment.

          Back in firstly 1895, then 1908, when league broke from union, & I would dare say briefly in 1995, when union went professional, a majority of players didn’t necessarily want to become full-time professionals, but they wanted to be recompensed for tests & tours & protected against injury.

          Indeed, the wording in 1995 from southern hemisphere rugby power brokers was, “the game is no longer amateur”. Semantics can be important here. They could have said, “the game is now professional”, but they didn’t.

          That’s an important distinction in wording. Anyway, the dam was burst. No matter if the powers-that-be wanted to progress slowly, just about everyone dove headlong into professionalism.

          I don’t begrudge players trying to earn a living from sport. But unfortunately, everyone is too greedy & sport is suffering as a consequence.

          The oversupply of sport has killed expectation, of looking forward with enthusiasm to the next edition. Sport is now wall to wall exposure, 24/7. It’s lost its novelty.

          You would eventually get tired of making love to Miss World or Miss Universe if you had to do so say five times every single day for however long.

          At first, for 3 months, 6 months, maybe a couple of years, you’d think, “how good is this”, but eventually even something meant to be highly pleasurable would wear you down because it’s no longer spontaneous, but a chore.

          I often like to quote the de Beers diamonds marketing strategy of artifice scarcity, “less is more”.

          There is an oversupply of diamonds in the world, if released, would send the price of diamonds plummeting. But the release of diamonds is carefully manipulated, so that all the major players benefit from there being less diamonds on the open market, not more.

          Heck, I’m tired…..

      • December 4th 2017 @ 10:42am
        Enrique TOPO Rodriguez said | December 4th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        yep yep yep Sheek!

        • December 4th 2017 @ 4:11pm
          sheek said | December 4th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report


          Muchos gratias amigo!

      • December 4th 2017 @ 2:53pm
        Bakkies said | December 4th 2017 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

        People need to stand up to McCafferty he ruined the Heineken Cup by forcing two broadcasters on the British and Irish market and has failed to fill up the sponsorship book that he had promised to do.

      • December 10th 2017 @ 3:11pm
        double agent said | December 10th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

        Well said sheek.

    • Roar Pro

      December 4th 2017 @ 7:47am
      swamprat said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      Rugby chases a small pot of money. It’s probably unsustainable pressure on player welfare that will force a rethink eventually. Hard to know how that will end though.

    • December 4th 2017 @ 7:48am
      tc said | December 4th 2017 @ 7:48am | ! Report

      You can’t compare international rugby union to AFL and NFL, one is made up of many nations which have their own agendas, while the other two are purely domestic.
      By the way, the NFL is in big trouble in the states, what with the declining wealth of the American middle classs, concussion problems in the game, and now the potesting players, a lot of the stadiums are now half empty, and the tv ratings are plummeting year on year. So, just because a big domestic competition has a large following within one country, doesn’t mean it is immune to falling over. When you think about it, the AFL would be even more vulnerable then the NFL.
      Because rugby union has a good following internationally, then it should by rights have a better coushion against the problems that might face competions like the NFL and AFL.

      • December 4th 2017 @ 9:09am
        BigAl said | December 4th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        Your take on NFL is hugely exagerated !
        You need to read up on the subject

        If you wish you can start here…

        • December 4th 2017 @ 11:19am
          KingCowboy said | December 4th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

          I think tc gets his news information off Trump’s twitter feed!

          • Roar Rookie

            December 4th 2017 @ 12:39pm
            piru said | December 4th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

            To be fair, the Cowboys had poor attendance at one game

            To put it in perspective, their average is around 90,000

            • December 6th 2017 @ 7:56am
              Justin Kearney said | December 6th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

              NFL tv ratings have dropped from 17.9 million a game in 2010 to 16.5 million in 2016 and are running at 15 million a game this season. Thats probably a cause of concern for a purely domestic sport.