The Roar
The Roar

Working Class Rugger

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Joined June 2009

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Little disappointing no one has seen fit to right a piece about the Drua winning the NRC final on Saturday in what was a fantastic game played in really wet conditions by both sides. Really the shining light for the game in this country at present.

Why Australia should spearhead a Pacific future for rugby

Sorry, what?

Why Australia should spearhead a Pacific future for rugby

Don’t quote me on this but I recall Brett McKay mentioned that viewership has surprised Foxtel in terms of the numbers. It should also be noted that outside of Sydney and Melbourne (though for completely different reasons) crowds have been quite good this season. Certainly above last season from everything I can tell.

Why Australia should spearhead a Pacific future for rugby

The loss of the Rams was unfortunate but the writing was on that particular wall when their licence was acquired by Eastwood. Which as someone who supported them since the NRC inception when it was announced that they were to be cut I was hardly surprised.

Anyway, I’m going to put forth some thoughts regarding the NRC and your piece so here goes. First of all the NRC sort of contains the PI involvement you call for. Hell, this seasons final will be played this Saturday in Lautoka after the Fijian Drua earned the right to host by being the top ranked team came the end of the season and overcoming a tough Vikings side in the pouring ran in Fiji last weekend.

We should encourage more PI involvement in the NRC in my opinion. WR has made overtures about entering a second PI based squad. As Fiji has proven they add so much to the competition.

Regarding Aus based teams. I actually think RA and NSWRU have missed an opportunity by delaying the WSR Western Sydney team. For a couple of reasons. 1) A professional team playing regularly in the region would be amazing and 2) This would provide another professional quality side for the NRC. This would then allow NSW to go to one Union run team lifting the standard again.

I do like the idea of national domestic competitions serving as the primary vessels and the concept of a Champions Cup like competition between them. Something involving the NRC, M10, Top League and emerging competitions like Major League Rugby in the US and Canada and the mooted Liga Sul Americana de Rugby in South America. Would be amazing in my opinion. But highly unlikely in practicality. For many reasons.

What I have an issue with is the international structure you’ve put forth and the use of Baabaa teams for the Americas and PIs. Neither would be workable or fair. The combined PI concept was tried and failed for a number of reasons one being the PI nations have all their own individual identities and pride in those. Stripping that away and trying to cram them into one neat form does them no justice. Same for the Americas.

What I would like to see is the Rugby Championship expanded to 8 nations across two divisions with promotion and relegation on offer. So you would have the current four in the 1st division with the top 2 teams from each edition of the Pacific Nations Cup and Americas Rugby Championship (excluding the Argentina XV for obvious reasons) featuring in the 2nd division competing for the opportunity to move up.

This would obviously require Japan to compete in the PNC which isn’t a bad idea. But using this years edition as an example you’d see Fiji and Tonga feature in the 2019 edition (if it were to start next year) and the US (who’ve won two titles on the trot) and Uruguay rounding out those four.

Why Australia should spearhead a Pacific future for rugby

My experience is that it isn’t. This was some time back now but I remember running drills at one of the Shute Shield clubs where we were instructed to run directly at the opposing player. I was always taught to look to shift toward the space between defenders and look for the offload (which was a big part of my game) but when I brought that up I was told “that’s not how its done”.

This was well over a decade ago but it has stuck with me. The Fijian do what I was taught with a high degree of excellence but it doesn’t fit this highly structured model we seem to believe is best.

The NRC has shown us how to improve the Wallabies. Will we listen?

I’m not suggesting your trying to influence anyone’s thinking. Just expressing my opinion. I think among the 6 non-NSW sides the competition was far more even than it ever has. Which is why I think it is at least at the same standard as last season. The relative poor showing from NSW Country (who were at least competitive at times) and the poor showing from Sydney (who only had moments) is what held this season back. If all 8 were firing I think I’d say another improved season.

I should add regarding the inclusion of another PI based squad I think that should occur come the next TV rights deal. Look to stabilise the current numbers and then add at least a one possibly two PI squads.

The four we always suspected are through, but who makes the NRC final?

Well hopefully everything goes to plan and the broadcast comes off without a hitch as I believe that if they earn the right to host they should be allowed to host. Imagine the potential turn out for such a game.

The four we always suspected are through, but who makes the NRC final?

Bar the NSW sides I don’t think this season was any lesser than last season with generally very competitive games all round. If NSW could have sorted their house out (boy, this is really a broken record by this stage) then I think we’d be talking about another step forward for the competition.

Though, I think we’ve been spoilt over the past few seasons seeing quite significant growth in the overall standard of play in general and not seeing as big a jump this season has perhaps skewed things a little.

However, having said all that the competition is at the point where it needs to take the next step forward. RA and the Unions need to really start to push this competition and install standards across the board that must be met.

Obvious things that you highlighted in your recent piece are social media and the general promotion of the games.

I like the grassroots orientation of the competition and would like to see it maintained overall. But I do think standards like attendances should be set for the competition. I honestly think 5k for all but the Country squads should be the goal. The Country squads should be looking to draw 3k to games.

Game day experience should be looked at as well. And (another broken record moment) promote the damn thing. I actually think there’s significant opportunity in the concept of community around sports in the contemporary landscape. And I’m not just talking about those already part of the club.

The four we always suspected are through, but who makes the NRC final?

It was hinted that it wasn’t so much a broadcast issue as a not playing on a Sunday issue. Which if they had finished 2nd would have been the the day they would have had to have hosted. Could be wrong?

The four we always suspected are through, but who makes the NRC final?

The Drua could be joined by another PI based team in the near future with WR looking to fund another entrant in the NRC.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/international/107840178/Samoa-Tonga-could-be-next-as-Fiji-clinch-Australian-rugby-minor-premiership

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

Most of the guys who went over to NZ were more or less SR level players so would be able to demand more than so taking that into account I think $15-20k for a NRC season would be pretty fair for a club player.

I guess it would be dependent on how much more the rights grew by if at all. But if they were to double to $3m a season with the extra $1.5m you could contract an extra 75 blokes at $20k with that money.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

What level of contract do you think would be fair?

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

Mid December to mid January would only be a month.

Anyway, it’s probably just me and my anal retentive nature are even numbers. Seven as a number of games just doesn’t feel right. I’d be happy if they went with 8 games. Starting and finishing each season with a derby/rivalry rounds.

The NSW derby and the Qld derby are obvious. But you could do the two Country’s and City’s. Rising and Force would be another.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

Would be nice if those rating grew to such an extent that Fox were willing to pay more for the rights next time round.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

I’ve played for a Shute Shield club and have tuned into the broadcast of the competition since I was 12 (so 20 years now) and I can say without a moments hesitation that the NRC is and should be the pro/semi-pro competition in this country. There’s more to Rugby than NSW after all.

Anyway, back the the scheduling. The SR final was on Aug 4 this year. What I want to see is the NRC ideally moved back to after the NRL/AFL finals weekend on the final weekend of Sept.

That would deliver a two month window. Have the front line players take 6 weeks while the rest of the squad assembles 4 weeks out from launch. Run games in a similar fashion to that of the Mitre 10 to make sure it finishes not later than mid Dec.

Players break for another month and reconvene in mid Jan for a late Feb kickoff.

There would be two rest windows for players. Up to 10 weeks in total. Not terribly different than they have now with the exception that while they would usually running drills on the training paddock they’ll be sharpening them and their fitness by playing which as a player was always my preferred option.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

I don’t actually have an issue with the conference system providing that it’s intelligently and with a modicum of reason. I actually thought the 3 x 5 format that introduced the system to SR worked fine. With the exception of the whole guaranteed finals thing.

It feel to pieces when they opted to go nuts and trying to shoehorn teams and split the SA conference up into two.

But on the conference issue. It doesn’t need to be a formalised thing. Just an example of how teams could be drawn.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

Didn’t they play that game at Simmonds Stadium? Capacity 36k. The quoted figure isn’t impossible as it would very empty with 1500 people.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

Could split the 8 into two pools. Play the teams in your pool twice for 6 games and each team in the other pool once for 4 games totaling 10 games.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

Some teams will play each twice while others only once similar to how 16 goes into 26 in the NRL and 18 goes into 22 in the AFL.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

After the initial cost of setting up everything in the first year of their broadcast being $750k I understand that the group behind the Shute Shield broadcast do the 25 games they cover at broadcast quality for roughly half that now. And with new technology being developed the overall costs involved are coming down. So in theory it could be done.

But I tend to be of the thinking that if you are going to do it that you’ve got to go the whole way. And look to create a platform featuring SR plus all other possible competitions worth broadcasting from across the SANZAAR nations including Japan. Could even look to partner with the likes of MLR as they international rights holder etc.

Otherwise there really is no point.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

Agree with everything you’ve said here Brett. I would also like to see the number of rounds expanded from 7 to 10 and potentially the kick off date moved further back so that at the very least the majority of the season doesn’t overlap with the NRL or AFL.

Another great NRC season, but we know it could be better

The WR Executive have essentially green lit the competition for next year. The upcoming vote is more of less a formality. RA won’t be interfering with the competition after that. They can announce it whenever they wish.

World Series Rugby: Please just do it, Twiggy

I’d like to see the hit replaced with a fold at the scrum. This would have fairly significant impact upon the time it would take you set and complete the process. It would also greatly increase the overall safety of the event. A pre-bind while standing and then both front rows fold into the engagement.

It would still be powered as it is now with an active push component but removing the hit element which is far and away the biggest issue come the time taken at scrums would be greatly reduced.

I’d also like to see the aimless punt down field when you have with penalty advantage addressed. Advantage is there to encourage you to press ahead with an element of risk knowing you have the penalty coming if you fail. Too many teams just lob it down field. I’d like it to be determined that if you don’t truly attempt to use it then you lose it.

The 30 minute halves are interesting. If they went the way of stopping the clock for scrums etc. it might be worth a look in.

As for locations of teams. I think Western Sydney is an obvious one. But I also think one in Queensland should be looked at. Mainly because I am of the increasing belief that the NRC should be the coming together of all Aus. teams (and Fiji) to compete in a true national championship. Let WSR set up teams in NSW and QLD and even work on agreements granting them access to talent. Let both SR and WSR run their respective seasons and then combined the Aus. teams in the NRC.

They would be the teams minus their Wallabies for the most part but they would still be professional teams offering opportunities to compete and be paid for talented footballers. Plus, you know. More Rugby.

World Series Rugby: Please just do it, Twiggy

Both put up far better performances over the weekend. Settle down. They need to address some major issues but let’s wait to see if the improvement continues.

The NRC bridge must be kept open. That was the whole point…

Tom Hill

The NRC bridge must be kept open. That was the whole point…