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Brett McKay

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Joined September 2008

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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, is the voice of ACT club rugby, has commentated on Under-20s Championships, Women's Uni Sevens and National Rugby Championship 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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Nah, they’re as reported by the SMH and sourced from OZTAM…

Last season attracted an average audience of 13,000 people on the free-to-air network’s digital channel, down from 40,000 in the final year of the ABC’s long-running broadcast.

According to figures given to the Herald and sourced from OzTAM, the competition’s television audience dropped year on year over its five years on Seven, apart from a small spike in 2016 – the year Northern Suburbs broke a 41-year hoodoo to claim the title.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Doesn’t the near-100 NRC graduates into Super Rugby provide the evidence to point to, Tom?

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

I do applaud his ability to stick to one message, though.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

They use it as a heritage thing currently, TWAS..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

1. I have no jealously of the Shute Shield, you’re making that up for reasons unknown, and which I couldn’t care less about anyway.
2. You posting this article (for the umpteenth time) about one game three seasons ago doesn’t change my points above one iota.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

I don’t know for sure, but I *think* it’s because the private involvement might contradict the NSWCRU consitution, and therefore requires a separate entity.

That’s my understanding over the years, but I’ll happily stand corrected.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

And look who’s arrived to spectacularly miss the point yet again… 🙄

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Sheek, TWAS has actually explained this perfectly.

And for what it’s worth, the Vikings Group also funded the Canberra Kookaburras back in the day. It was only when they took over the funding completely (which was 1996, when the ACTRU had it’s hands full hurriedly creating the Brumbies!), did the renaming to the Canberra Vikings happen.

(As an aside, I only learned late last year the Vikings did play in Sydney. My memory was that they didn’t play as the Vikings until they went to Brisbane for a few years..)

(And Tuggeranong are far from the superpower down here: last year the top three of Royals, Tuggeranong, and Gungahlin were separated by a point going into the finals, and all three led the comp at different stages. Gunghalin lost their semi to Uni-North by less than a try, and Royals beat Tuggies in the GF by 1. For info.)

re NSW Country, every-Waratahs contracted player of country extraction (incl. country Qld in some cases) was aligned with the Eagles, ditto the NSW members of the Junior Wallabies, along with ex-country 1st Graders in Sydney. Not everyone who played for them had country lines, but I believe it was more than half the squad..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

So….. most sane people realise SR and the NRC will fall over, but like a Phoenix some other pro comp will be miraculously formed by bigger clubs who battle currently, and would then expand to the point of inviting teams from NZ and the PIs.

Sane people realise this?!? 😮

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Andy, that’s exactly what was offered to the Brisbane and Sydney clubs when the NRC was constructed, though.

The Brisbane clubs couldn’t see a way that allowed their involvement to be financially feasible, and so the QRU quickly created Brisbane City and Qld Country under the Reds fold. Three titles in six seasons suggests this was a good call.

In Sydney, Gordon/Manly/Warringah/Norths formed a JV to create the North Harbour Rays (which became the Sydney Rays). That JV entity lasted five seasons with backing from Macquarie University, before the Waratahs resumed control just last year and simply named them, ‘Sydney’ (playing in the old SRU rep strip)

The Greater Sydney Rams had buy-in from Souths, West Harbour, Parramatta, Penrith and Eastwood, as well as majority private investment. That all slowly dwindled down, Eastwood took it over for a season, then they were wound up when NSW cut back to two teams.

Sydney Uni created the Sydney Stars with Balmain (of all clubs), but it only last two seasons (made the finals the second year). Uni then got involved with NSW Country.

And Country was initially a part-private, part NSW Country Rugby amalgam with token input from Easts and Randwick (who sort of found themselves let out), but with Uni then coming in with (I think) about a 20% stake. I believe that relationship still exists, thought the team is now also run by the Waratahs.

So the NSW sides were set up as you suggest they should have been, but it simply didn’t last..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Great point Jez. I’ve certainly had conversations that indicate there are very similar motives/drivers up in Brisbane, but I don’t believe they’re as supported or encouraged to ‘speak up’ as in Sydney..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

All very true Soapy, but at least by running the first few rounds locally might minimise that travel requirement, which in turn might make it easier on players. Valid concerns, though.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Yeah, no doubt it’s been driven from that level Andy, I just question how big the actual movement doing the driving is.

We have to remember, that for all the talk about what the SRU/Club Rugby TV deal with Ch.7 has done to revitalise the game, the details often overlooked but slowly emerging show that:

– the deal the SRU (the body representing the SS clubs, remember) signed the clubs up for had to be bailed out by RA/NSWRU in 2015 and 2016, and again 2019. They signed a deal that had the paying $300K a year for the airtime and production costs, and couldn’t pay it three out of five years.
– That deal had another five years to run.
– The ratings haven’t been great at all. The figure reported was an average of 13,000 viewers per game last season on 7TWO – which is I believe pretty much the same as what NRC games were getting on Fox Sports.
– RA buying out the remaining rights has resulted in a nice little profit for the CRTV guys, while as part of the deal, the SRU will get a nice little cash injection over the next few seasons that wasn’t on the table previously.

The health of the club game in Sydney has been way overstated. Way overstated.

Meanwhile, in the other cities, they operate within their means, doing what they can to grow the game through local live streams, etc…

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

G’day Jez, I’ve had to hold off and take my time to reply, there’s a bit in your post!

(But that’s great, like I say, the discussions are important)

Up front, I actually agree with you that the perfect scenario is what we have now: let the local club comps be the best they can be locally, and work on beefing up local coverage.

Then play the NRC as we know it.

If the status quo isn’t possible for whatever reason, then in my mind there’s a few ways to go.

* A national Cup comp followed by the NRC has way more appeal than a national club comp, as I’ve outlined here.

* If the NRC must change, then I actually think a Super A comp is the next best model – especially given the SR sides will only have 6/7 homes games a year from 2021 with the new 14-team comp.

So that would leave the 4 SR sides + the Western Force + Fijian Drua. Full H&A + finals = 12-week comp that would give the states extra content during the International season.

The biggest advantage in both scenarios means that Premier Rugby in Sydney and Brisbane isn’t affected, Canberra and Melbourne aren’t ignored or given token recognition in the name of a faux national comp.

Re your NRC questions, they’re valid concerns – but I can understand why players might the move early, and why SR sides would encourage it.

(And in Will’s case, he told me he didn’t see the point in travelling up to Sydney a couple of days a week if he was back at the farm in Berry, and then heading to Canberra for a another couple of days a week. So he made the move early!)

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Agree with all this, Sheek, and all the reasoning.

Much easier implementation and with much less impact on existing club comps.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

No, you couldn’t do that Cad, you’d have to hold the Premier clubs back until later rounds for those very obvious reasons you cite.

West Wyalong might play Young first, and if they get through that, it might be Orange Emus next, or the like. They wouldn’t face Sydney Uni (for eg) until several rounds in, by which case they’d be confident and ready for anyone!

Regional qualifiers and/or early rounds would be the key to playing levels, but also to minimise travel costs..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Andy, as Anthony B outlined in his great article last week, I kind of feel like the clubs are a bit caught in the middle of all this.

There are absolutely those who want to replace the NRC and be much bigger than they ever can be. But I’m also quite sure there others who are actually pretty happy with their patch and doing their bit to help players go onto bigger and better things as individuals..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Bang on, Chookman.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

All valid points Max, and certainly a drawback of a fixed national club comp.

A Cup competition (I would imagine) would be more standalone, maybe even midweek (that’s my speculation). An opportunity for the club to showcase itself at its home ground as an event..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

I absolutely take your point, Max.

And to clarify, my assumption about the Cup comp follows how Wayne Smith reported it over the weekend, that the Cup comp would run nationally during the existing club season, with the NRC following as it currently does.

No overlap, therefore..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Great post, Muglair. And spot on about the powerbrokers doing the undermining..

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

The Western Force won the NRC in 2019 with a squad comprising contracted Force players and the best club players in Perth.

The NSW teams finished 5th and 8th.

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Well, that’s the $64 question, SMI.

But essentially, it’s for the same self-interested reasons the ARC was killed off a decade ago (though that did involve a cost blowout).

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

Was that the Craven Week, EFF?

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring

And that’s largely what the national club comp concept was about, Ad-O.

The risk would absolutely be that like in the European football – and even rugby – the haves and have-nots would quickly emerge, and players would naturally gravitate toward clubs more likely to qualify for the next stage. The gap between the stronger clubs would only widen further.

And then I’ll raise what I call the Jack Dempsey scenario – who does he play for (or any fringe Wallaby play for) if his club, Gordon (or whichever club the fringe player is registered/aligned with) doesn’t qualify for the next stage up?

(Because if the solution is that you just slot them into a qualified club to get them game time, then you compromise your club registration process and you run the risk of losing the player to the stronger club..)

A national cup competition is an idea worth exploring