I was lucky enough the other day to have a quiet afternoon off and I switched on to Stan and found a remastered version of the old classic and fantastic movie Field of Dreams.
It’s Kevin Costner at his best before the embarrassments of Waterworld or The Postman.
It’s a simple story. A guy starts hearing voices and seeing visions in his corn field of a baseball field.
The voice tells him: “If you build it, they will come”.
For those who have watched it, you know the ending, for those who haven’t given it a go, it’s a great story with an uplifting ending.
It made me think of the state of Australian rugby.
We have something missing. The movie is about missed chances for the players and the ability to experience what they have missed.
The question you ask is how does this fit into Australian rugby?
Simply, there is a missing piece. Something that will bring the players back. Something that will allow them to enjoy the game they love in the right place.
The irony is we had it and let it go due to politics. With the discussion of private equity we now have the chance to plow the cornfield and build something that will bring the players back and then the fans will follow.
It’s called the NPC. There is eight teams to start, backed by private equity, controlled by Rugby Australia. There are no state interests and no club interests.
1. Brisbane City
2. Queensland Country
3. Western Sydney (an Islander-based team that moves west)
4. Sydney City
5. NSW Country (based out of Newcastle but travels north)
Eight teams. Thirty players. The salaries of Super Rugby players are shared 50/50 with the Super Rugby teams. There are three marquees (ex-Wallabies), and developmental players at the Super Rugby base salary.
Play in the smaller stadiums and reach out to regional Australia.
With decent coaches and support staff, it is probably $5 million a season per team.
That is $200 million over five years. It protects the integrity of the Super teams and the integrity and independence of Rugby Australia.
It provides the middle ground for up-and-comers and a way to come home for the experienced journeymen and internationals.
I have done a lot more detailed analysis, but you get the point.
It most importantly fills a gap and provides a product to sell to private equity, with limited investment, and potentially high return at a low risk.
And I go back to the movie. Good old Kevin mowed his field. Everyone thought he was crazy. He sowed the seeds for the grass, measured everything to a dime and the players came.
I won’t reveal the end of the movie but it’s the outcome we are all hoping for.