The huge gap between New Zealand and Australian rugby has been borne out in the last five weeks.
It is not so much if they will win, it is by how much they will win. The odd victory going an Australian team’s way may be because the New Zealand team just cannot find the motivation on the day. We need investment. We need to bring back and stop losing our talent to overseas clubs in order to raise the level of intensity of club and Super Rugby. We need to invest in grassroots.
How do we do that? Private equity? There are real cons to PE investment. They will want their pound of flesh. Everything will be put behind a paywall. One we are just starting to break down with Channel 9 and Stan (albeit a small cost for the latter to access so much more rugby content than I have ever seen in one space). I feel this is all at risk right now.
We really need to consider and try going to the rugby public first. $100 a year or $150 for different tiers and privileges (tickets and so on) including voting rights on key issues that matter to the Australian rugby community. Even life memberships for $1000 or so. When becoming a member, x-per cent goes to your local club, y-per cent goes to your state union and z-per cent goes to the Rugby AU.
Lotteries can be run for a certain number of top seats for games making it accessible not just to the well-healed portion of our rugby population that have never experienced nosebleed seats (appreciate there is a trade-off to get revenue here but we need some access). Wallaby merchandise giveaways could be ran through member lotteries. Wallaby TV could be created and access could be given to members following their teams and the Wallabies through their season journeys.
We could use crowdfunding or even use technology like blockchain giving the members rewards points based on profits. Members can redeem these points for merchandise with their membership number on the arm for tickets and such or transfer them.
I know we have the Wallaby First memberships but how many know of it and how many buy them? A cap, a pen, a scarf and access to buy tickets early…really? Feels like kids stuff. We need to fundraise, we need budgets and targets, use of funds explained and we need investment in our clubs, states and the national union to be combined.
We need proper membership cards that can offer discounts at stores or gyms. We need to feel and be a part of Rugby AU and Wallaby success. Run Wallaby Run. Win or lose. I just want to feel like I am helping Australian rugby. I feel helpless right now.