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Rob9

Roar Guru

Joined September 2011

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Roar Guru
Roar Guru

What the west needs now

Covid has brought so many sectors of society to their knees over the last three or four months. Professional sport has been at the forefront of these losses with its inflated overheads driven by the ongoing quest for success.

Roar Guru
Roar Guru

Dissecting another Wallabies loss

Well, another Test and another loss for the 2013 Wallabies (sigh). Being the last match of the southern hemisphere’s Test season I feel compelled to put my thoughts down about our most recent failure to cleanse myself before we try our luck up north.

How has that been left it? It’s been alluded to in just about every one of my comments. And again, it appears as though the NZR and it’s players are on two different pages because there’s a growing chorus coming from those taking the runs and making the tackles that the level they’re playing at isn’t sustainable.

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

It is a pointless endevour carrying on any sort of discussion with you Jacko. In almost every exchange you make blatant misrepresentations that make it a joyless experience for me and make you look quite silly. This is no different here with multiple distortions and I just can’t be bothered correcting you. Sure, there are some points here that I could pick up and discuss further, but then you’d go and misrepresent their intent in your next reply. Do you ever stop and wonder why you regularly find yourself in these sorts of skirmishes on the roar? It’s a common occurrence for you- May be reflect on that.

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

‘why dont they just add a couple of teams and a PI team and have their own comp?’

They just might. And we just might. That’s the very real likelihood if a model that fits both can’t be found. But to answer your question- because it creates a 10-team league and their financial responsibility is only stretched across half of the competition. 5 teams for NZ is probably their optimum model to effectively cover their small population while 5 teams is probably Australia’s optimum model to effectively cover our small fan base (as much has been suggested by both the NZR and RA).

The financial mismanagement of RA is of no great concern to the NZR beyond them having a great rival in a compromised position. That is of course where we are right now and it’s come about predominately thanks to continuing to align ourselves to the hard to engage with Super Rugby. Covid has swept the decks and provides the opportunity to build something that better fits our needs to once and for all unlock our true potential.

‘Aus does not have 5 SR sides and has not had 5 SR sides for some time.’

You continue to come back to this point and it’s gainless. Super Rugby beyond Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa isn’t a thing right now and there’s every reason to think that it won’t be a thing again. It’s an absolute certainty that it won’t be what it was before Covid struck. It’s also a certainty that RA will ensure a 5-team approach and base it’s planning on that as such. Move on.

‘The Aratipu report said a NZ run comp. Not a TT comp where Aus runs their teams and NZ runs theirs.’

Yea ok, I’ll pay that. And it might be one of the most insightful comments you’ve ever made on the Roar (not saying a lot).

The NZR want Australia involved because despite what you choose to believe, they know a competition that has Australia’s rugby community invested is a stronger rugby competition for NZ. And you’re correct, the NZR aren’t approaching it like a Trans Tasman partnership, more a NZ based competition with Australian teams involved. The issue with this approach for the NZR is that they shouldn’t expect RA to embrace this approach- as much has already been suggested. The NZR will need to pivot quickly from this strategy if they really value Australia’s involvement- which I think they’ll do and they’d be mad if they didn’t. If you think the minor interest shown on the other side of the globe in a competition that’s basically got the floor to itself is going to put you in some sort of position of power…. you’re kidding yourself.

‘And as the report says its a 1 year comp until SAANZAR gets up and running again if C19 ever stops threatening everything.’

As alluded to above; you don’t have to be an expert at reading between the lines to conclude that Super Rugby as it was is done. The rhetoric and planning from all 3 original SANZAR partners has basically put all of the cards on the table. The Sunwolves and Jaguares are done. There’s nothing about the new alignments and infrastructure proposed that suggests what we’re moving towards in 2021 will be just a ‘gap year’ model. Use a bit of foresight.

‘Will the ABs coach be able to ask a SR side to play a person in a different position? Will he be able to get a player moved from 1 team to another to get more game time? Would the Aus teams release the NZ players for ABs camps or would they rest a player at the Abs request?’

No. No. Yes/No.

On the x2 and a half ‘no’s’; the sooner that unions stop treating Super Rugby as a trial ground for test rugby and let it be it’s own powerbase- the better. This approach cannibalises interest and compromises it’s legitimacy for fan engagement. If that’s how NZ want to continue to approach their domestic rugby, then by all means go on your way. You’ll continue to be incredibly competitive effectively due to the fact that you’re one of the only places on the planet where the game has a religious-like following, but a country like Australia with it’s incredibly competitive sporting landscape, can’t be held back by these unique to NZ (where you can afford to do what you want) and backward policies.

On the x1 ‘yes’; I’d see no reason players couldn’t be released for a mid week camp (to be back with their club before the weekend) as currently happens. These types of initiatives don’t have as great an impact on a Super Rugby team’s competitiveness and it’s a quicker trip to Auckland from our east coast than it is to Perth (so a trip across the ditch for a 2/3 day camp is achievable).

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

Different ballgame if we had all of our players ‘available’ to fill 5 teams.

Jacko, what you can’t seem to grasp is that the Aratipu review suggested NZ pursue a Trans Tasman model that limits Australian involvement to between 2 and 4 teams in order to establish a somewhat even competition. RA has also expressed a desire for a TT model but have (rightfully) stated a requirement for our 5 Super Rugby AU teams to be included. So try and wrap your head around this; it’s at this point that effective partners set about finding a solution that appeases NZR’s need for a balanced competition and RA’s need to have our 5 teams involved. AGAIN, free player movement (with unchanged test eligibility) is just one possible option to appease the needs of both parties. I’m sure RA would be happy to just have their 5 teams in regardless but free player movement is just one way to meet the NZR desire for an even competition.

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

Engage a fan base, Gavin.

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

Ah Jacko, there your go undoing all of your good work. Australia does have the talent for 5 teams. Australia does not have the talent to field 5 competitive sides in a competition that involves 5 sides stacked with NZ talent. There’s not one country in the world that does. Please note the difference.

Australia demands nothing. Australia will have a minimum of 5 teams competing at a professional level- with or without NZ.

Furthermore, Australia has never demanded NZ to make their players available to play in Australia while remaining eligible for NZ. Again, that’s one potential solution to appease NZ’s apprehensions around an unbalanced competition that has never gone beyond fan spit-balling.

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

‘But why do you need our NZ players? Is it because 5 teams is too many for Aus to fill and to still compete?’

You’ve answered your own question Jacko. 5 Australian teams competing in a competition against 5 NZ teams creates an unbalanced competition to a degree. An issue mainly for the NZR apparently.

In any event; you would want free player movement with NZ talent remaining eligible for the AB’s to encourage a REAL unrestricted player market. And this would be but one option to bridge the gap that would exist between 5 NZ and 5 Australian teams.

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

He gets it!
Obviously the opinion of the coach of the Wallabies coach doesn’t hold much sway in the minds of the NZR’s decision makers, but if their players opinions do- we should be on our way towards a TT comp that meets RA’s desire for 5 teams. Those with their boots on the grass are certainly becoming more vocal about the issues of playing in a competition that’s played at the intensity of SR Aotearoa.
10 team comp. 5 teams from each. Add in a layer (eg. free player movement) to instill competitiveness across the competition. Finally a concept that does an adequate job of connecting fans with the game and making some noise on our cluttered sporting landscape. All the while providing adequate opportunities for home grown talent to play professional rugby at home (as Rennie values) and in our local news cycle.

Wallabies coach Rennie weighs in on trans-Tasman competition debate

I’m sure he attains solace in the fact that he garners support from the evangelical base, but it’s clear as day that Folau places his beliefs well above the fiscal value of his brand.

Folau courts more controversy

So true. Was on the Sunny Coast though. I hope these Storm games are putting the SC on the expansion radar. Looked great there yesterday and the last Melbourne home game (despite questionable social distancing).

Folau courts more controversy

You’ve acknowledged his decisions not to take a knee is likely on the basis of his religious beliefs, then you’ve criticised him for making that decision- sorry but that’s textbook religious vilification.

Folau courts more controversy

It’s picking up on a previous (unrelated) instant, attempting to draw loose parallels and applying pressure by pointing out his failure to conform in partaking in a symbolic gesture. It’s got nothing to do with his political position. Again, he himself is part of a racial minority.

The one thing you can pull from the past is that there’s every reason to think that he’s not kneeling due to his (again, harmless) religious beliefs. Which really makes it incredibly mystifying (and inappropriate) that this is a point of conjecture.

Even if it was political, there a numerous legitimate reasons for not taking part-taking in a form of protest that has been adopted by a movement that includes factions that have utilised poor choices of activism and/or failed to incorporate other important conversations into the discussion.

Who says you must join the masses in symbolic gestures to acknowledge a systematic discrepancy (one that his own race has suffered from) that requires change. Furthermore, if there’s one thing we know about Israel Folau; whether it’s a good or bad thing (probably both)- it’s that he has very little regard for the value of his ‘brand’.

Folau courts more controversy

As above; what your comments are is vilifying an individual on the grounds of their (harmless) religious beliefs.

Folau courts more controversy

Everybody ‘chooses’ their sexual orientation? It’s not about forcing ‘life choices’ onto anyone- it’s about individual ‘wiring’ and accepting differences (and probably just minding your own business).

Folau courts more controversy

Ok, may be a more precise method of framing the issue with the image Folau shared is; people should try and address/rectify their addictions and just about everything else that appeared on that list. A persons sexual orientation is who they are.

Folau courts more controversy

Instead of answering your loaded question, I suggest you cut straight to the meaning of the comment that you’ve replied to and reflect on the differences between a group defined by their sexual orientation and a group defined by their addiction (which by no means is necessarily a ‘choice’). May be then go a step further and reflect on how each group has been treated by society throughout history.

Folau courts more controversy

Israel hasn’t shared a post, uttered a word or made a derogatory representation in regards to any group of people in this instance. All of which warrant criticism. All he has done (or hasn’t done) is chosen not to join what’s become a populous symbolic gesture on a sporting field- quite probably on religious grounds. You can drag this across to Israel’s previous form all you like- but what you’re doing here is vilifying someone based on their religion.

Folau courts more controversy

Struggling to understand the purpose of this comment? Look through your list from the image he shared on insta and ask yourself these two questions; from the groups of people identified- how many find themselves in that category thanks to personal ‘choice’? Of those that aren’t (which effectively cuts it down to one- LGBTQI), how many of those groups have been subject to the treatment that the LGBTQI community has throughout history?

Folau courts more controversy

Criticising on presumptions. Dangerous territory. And he should partake because it’s an easy symbolic gesture? Again, the irony that he too is a racial minority… What’s the response if a this is a Islander player without Israel’s (again, actually) controversial past?

Folau courts more controversy

While it’s a worthy goal to address the disproportionate representations in the statistics that the BLM movement targets; trying to control how individuals respond is not a desirable way of achieving improvement. Drawing parallels with this and Israel’s (actually) controversial comments/posts in the LGBTQI space is belittling to both causes. He did the wrong thing there and here (as a racial minority himself) he’s simply chosen not follow a popular route of activism which is a non-event.

Folau courts more controversy

No Nick, positive and effective cultures produce better players. A good culture will certainly get those ‘off field’ ducks in a line to position the team to achieve on field success- but it doesn’t always translate for whatever reason. Re; Coleman and the Force- Matt Hodgson was the captain during Coleman’s time in the West. Do you really think Hodgson would have led a poor culture?

‘I have, thanks to a correction from TWAS! In fact the overall figures from 2015 onwards against NZ opposition are: won – 21 lost – 93.
The win rate doubled from 13% to 27% after the Force were dropped.’

I’ll draw you back to the first line of my original comment. You’ll hear no argument from me that more teams = a wider spread of talent which = a drop in the average standard of play. Also again; it doesn’t mean that it’s beyond the realms of possibility that Australia can’t have a team or two mixing it with the competition heavyweights and even take the choccies. We’ve proven as much.

‘Semi Pro’ (NRC??) does not work here. Rugby is a minor player on our landscape. What minor sports can support professional and semi professional tiers in their structure? And what semi professional leagues are used as a vehicle to capture widespread interest to grow the game? When the ARU (ex RA) established the ARC’s take two- the NRC; they were upfront on this fact and established it purely as a development tool (with mixed results) that had next to no dependency on fan engagement (because they knew it could achieve minimal influence in this space).

We’re not New Zealand. Our respective rugby markets and sporting landscapes are unrecogniseable from one and other. People need to recognise that there is no reason more influential for New Zealand’s success on the rugby field than the simple fact that it is one of the very few places on the planet where the game is at a religious-like status. We need systems that work for us, not trying to replicate what happens to fit for them in their unique environment. A multi-tier system isn’t a need. We need something at the top that’s going to penetrate through the clutter and make some noise.

I agree, producing teams that can rotate through more sustained success puts the game here in a more advantageous position. But if it’s a choice between cutting teams to manufacture success or ensuring a reasonable professional footprint that generates ample opportunities for young talent and adequate engagement with our local market- I take the former every day of the week. And thankfully, it appears as though with the game at rock bottom, RA have identified that a narrow approach to the professional game to appease external partners has landed us in the mess we’re in and have reprioritised accordingly.

In any event, there are strategies available (some requiring negotiations) to push ahead with the non-negotiable of 5 teams while strengthening what they can offer to a Trans-Tasman competition. I wrote an article on this very topic last week.

Too big to fail: Why Rugby Australia must not make the same mistake again

No Nick, positive and effective cultures produce better players. A good culture will certainly get those ‘off field’ ducks in a line to position the team to achieve on field success- but it doesn’t always translate for whatever reason. Re; Coleman and the Force- Matt Hodgson was the captain during Coleman’s time in the West. Do you really think Hodgson would have led a poor culture?

‘I have, thanks to a correction from TWAS! In fact the overall figures from 2015 onwards against NZ opposition are: won – 21 lost – 93.
The win rate doubled from 13% to 27% after the Force were dropped.’

I’ll draw you back to the first line of my original comment. You’ll hear no argument from me that more teams = a wider spread of talent which = a drop in the average standard of play. Also again; it doesn’t mean that it’s beyond the realms of possibility that Australia can’t have a team or two mixing it with the competition heavyweights and even take the choccies. We’ve proven as much.

‘Semi Pro’ (NRC??) does not work here. Rugby is a minor player on our landscape. What minor sports can support professional and semi professional tiers in their structure? And what semi professional leagues are used as a vehicle to capture widespread interest to grow the game? When the ARU (ex RA) established the ARC’s take two- the NRC; they were upfront on this fact and established it purely as a development tool (with mixed results) that had next to no dependency on fan engagement (because they knew it could achieve minimal influence in this space).

We’re not New Zealand. Our respective rugby markets and sporting landscapes are unrecogniseable from one and other. People need to recognise that there is no reason more influential for New Zealand’s success on the rugby field than the simple fact that it is one of the very few places on the planet where the game is at a religious-like status. We need systems that work for us, not trying to replicate what happens to fit for them in their unique environment. A multi-tier system isn’t a need. We need something at the top that’s going to penetrate through the clutter and make some noise.

I agree, producing teams that can rotate through more sustained success puts the game here in a more advantageous position. But if it’s a choice between cutting teams to manufacture success or ensuring a reasonable professional footprint that generates ample opportunities for young talent and adequate engagement with our local market- I take the former every day of the week. And thankfully, it appears as though with the game at rock bottom, RA have identified that a narrow approach to the professional game to appease external partners has landed us in the mess we’re in and have reprioritised accordingly.

In any event, there are strategies available (some requiring negotiations) to push ahead with the non-negotiable of 5 teams while strengthening what they can offer to a Trans-Tasman competition. I wrote an article on this very topic last week.

Too big to fail: Why Rugby Australia must not make the same mistake again

Hi Nick, thanks for your reply. Appreciate the lengths you’re going to to engage.

‘The real pretense is far more, in pretending that splitting the available talent into five teams would produce any winning cultures. It hasn’t, so the premise is dangerously irresponsible.’

Take a look out our RWC results since the ARU (as they were) started expanding; the year after the Force were admitted, we bowed out in the Quarters. Then through the ‘5 team era’ which aligned with 2 RWC’s, we finished 3rd and 2nd respectively. Then 2 year out from the most recent RWC we drop back to 4 and we’re back out in the Quarters. When it comes to the pinnacle of the sport, in the pressure cooker environment of tournament rugby where the culture of a team is put through the ultimate test- 5 teams feeding the Wallabies hasn’t seemed to have had a significant impact.

Sorry Nick, but your next paragraph is nothing but a guessing game. If Coleman played with a winning team he’d be on the level with Brodie Retallick… really? Not buying it sorry.

‘While I acknowledge the exceptional quality of the ABs in the period you mention, those players were split five ways in SR, and there is no way that Australia were so poor that they could only expect to win one match in 46 between 2015-2020, which is what actually happened.’

No, it’s not what happened. Check your facts.

Unless you have a structure that cuts through our cluttered landscape, makes more than a minor blip on our radar, captures interest, builds fans and therefore your player pool; you can have 2 or 3 teams playing the house down in Super Rugby but you’ve stifled your engagement and you’ll feel the pain in years to come- as we are from our failure to launch to the next level when our competition (NRL/AFL) really started to pull away from us.

Earlier tonight I was engaged in a schools coaching zoom conference with Dave Rennie who’s 8 days into his lockdown in Sydney. A considerable amount of the Q&A centered on issues currently facing Australian rugby and on this line he said, ‘You turn on the television and you wouldn’t even know rugby is played in this country’. In 16 words he has effectively summarised the struggle that the game faces here.

How do you build fans and (as a result) a player pool out of something that’s as good as invisible? You present a niche offering and don’t expect more than niche results on the international stage.

Too big to fail: Why Rugby Australia must not make the same mistake again

Thanks Nicko! Not sure how succinct… I don’t mind a waffle…. Appreciate it!

Too big to fail: Why Rugby Australia must not make the same mistake again

The first part of your analysis checks out. If we have 5 teams (that are almost exclusively picked from our local talent) competing in an international competition that involves the same number of teams from NZ; across the board, our 5 will be weaker than would be the case if we had 4 or 3.

‘Across the board’ is important- because we know that it doesn’t mean we won’t have at least a team tor two that are very competitive. As has been pointed out, we won the thing twice with 5. We also know that 3 teams doesn’t always equal 3 competitive sides. For much of the beginning of this century, the Reds were anchored towards the bottom of the competition.

The next bit of the analysis is a stretch. Trying to suggest 5 (or 4) teams has impacted Wallaby performance is a shallow and one dimensional pretense. Firstly, do we really think that the cattle were hiding across those 5 teams that had the potential to become world beaters if they were funneled into 3? Unfortunately we just haven’t been producing the caliber of player required to embed ourselves at the very pointy end of world rugby. Ironically this period has coincided with the NRL getting its house in order through recalibrating their national league (post Super League) that draws in huge engagement and interest from the masses resulting in the signing of billion $ broadcast deals. Meanwhile, rugby made the required smooth transition into professionalism but it then failed to evolve adequately and keep up with the competing forces on our landscape. The pain we’re feeling now (and for the last decade) at most levels of rugby is the result.

It’s also worth mentioning that this period has also coincided with the growing threat of losing local players to Northern Hemisphere leagues.

Very recently there is a glimmer of hope with some good numbers of promising young talent starting to come through the ranks. The Schoolboy and U20 results have been exciting. May be we could put this down to being symptomatic of the period of time that we had a wider professional rugby scene?

The other thing such an analysis ignores when quoting win ratios to support this rational is our opponents. Through the period of time in question, the All Blacks have been blessed with a once in a generation team. Even for their lofty standards, the era of McCaw, Carter, Nonu, Smith et al will always be a standout. The 08-15 AB’s were stacked with players that will go down amongst the all time best in their respective positions. They were the first to achieve back to back RWC wins as a result. Unfortunately for us, there is no team more exposed to the strength of NZ rugby than the Wallabies. It’s like State of Origin during the similar period of time. Do you think NSW could have done much to stop QLD dominance when they were up against a spine of future immortals?

So it becomes about what you place value behind. Do we want fewer teams that have a better chance of being somewhat competitive or do want to ensure we have effective coverage of our key markets with some level of professional rugby cutting through our cluttered sports news cycle while providing a wide enough pathway that has a better chance of capturing young talent.

Too big to fail: Why Rugby Australia must not make the same mistake again