Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: It's the Super 14, baby!

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  • Jimmy Southgate,

    To be honest I agree with the G9 folks; but then i've long been more excited with the NPC than Super 14. I think it might have coincided with the launch of the new era of the NPC & the inclusion of Hawke's Bay.

    I liked the proposal that came up a while ago (probably from the same unions) that would have had a 20 teams Trans-Tasman / Pacific competition. I think it was supposed to have had 10 NZ teams, 5 or so from Australia and then potential some Pacific Island or even Japanese involvement.

    So long as Hawke's Bay got in it would get me pretty excited - I suppose I nominally support the Hurricanes, but I just don't have the same attachment to them.

    I could natter about it for ages, but I reckon any halfway decent competition has to allow for some kind of regional identification, shouldn't have bonus points, should just have a winner without playoffs (though I like Minor & Major premiers like the NRL), and should be home & away.

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Mrs Skin,

    They could always try marketing to their new-found fanbase.

    Otherwise they could have a go at fixing what's wrong. I know sweet FA about rugby, but it strikes me that the G9 have a point.

    For me it's about community. I'd be more inclined to go out and support a truly local team, regardless of whether they were playing in the first, second or third tier. There's more opportunity for loyalty there too, I think (Cantabrians aside - they do loyalty to the extreme). I always thought that part of the reason Tana Umaga was so popular here in Wellington was because he was so identifiably local. You don't get much more 'community' than Wainui.

    The other thing about the Super 14, apart from cherry-picking the local players, is that they're the same players turning up in test matches. Oh him again. Yawn. It detracts from the feeling that you're watching something special. Where's the excitement in that?

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Wait, the rugby season starts next week doesn't it? I'll get excited about it then.

    Super rugby in its current format surely should be coming close to a decent restructure. South Africa have prioritised their Currie Cup, surely it's time to ditch them and they can play European teams, and we could have a decent Pacific Rim competition with a Pacific Island team or two, a Japanese team, west coast USA, and a couple of Argentinian teams (OK, I know they're not really Pacific Rim). It could be 16 - 20 teams playing in two pools.

    Australia and NZ between them should have enough strength to muscle that competition into starting and finishing at a decent time of year. Like late March - early June.

    And, the sooner NPC provinces move into the new millenium and recognise that they are the third tier (1st= tests, 2nd= super rugby), that they should be paying their players less and earning their money through transfer fees for the players they develop, and that their entire competition should be run tuesday - thursday nights so it could run during the international window and not clash with test matches... the better.

    And hack back on whatever the All Blacks get and put some more peanuts out for the Junior ABs, Maori ABs, and the Ferns so they have a proper schedule each year.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I think that instead of attacking the NPC you should prioritise it --- refashion the Super competition into a international provincial competition like the Champions League and run it concurrently with the NPC (travel will be difficult, but if you ran it every other week it wouldn't be too bad.)

    Basically, try and keep both NPC and Super rugby going, and get rid of the franchise nonsense.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    All these ideas are well and good but what it comes down to for me personally is that I trust Graham Henry and invested an awful lot of emotion in him and the 2007 World Cup. I'm still coming to terms with it.

    For me, watching Rugby is like seeing your ex-girlfriend again, the one who you proposed to but she turned you down and that was the end of the relationship.

    Now you're at a dinner party and she's there and you're expected to be civil?

    Fuck that.

    I'm still bitter.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    trusted that should be

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    David Cormack,

    So well said.

    And that wound was reopened last week when it transpired Henry wrote a letter to the courts praising that Mr. Veitch because he was nice to him.

    Who do these people (Team All Black) think we are????

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Well the NZRU basically have two options in front of them. One is to go hell for leather with a similar franchise based international competition like now only supersize it (which is what they were trying to do before).

    The other is to either completely ditch it altogether or have it as a late in the season Heinekin Cup style comp with qualifying NPC teams competing in it for perhaps 4-7 games depending on how far you go in it.

    One of the major problems they have had beside starting the seasons too early is that their are too many different teams. Imagine if in England football they had the EPL teams but then formed regional teams to play in the Champions League, like "Northern England", "London", etc

    Aussie will be 100% FU**ED if we go back to our roots. The game will die there with way less sponsorship money and all the players will go to league, Europe or NZ and they'll go back to having NSW and Queensland playing each other 3 times a year and not much else.

    I've been playing around with all sorts of scenarios in my head and none of them are anywhere near a silver bullet. The back to basics sounds good in theory but would simply not generate anywhere near as much money as a regional comp so thats the direction I think they will head. But if they do they need to keep the season short so it's like a Champions League comp that supplements an NZ rugby comp.

    We need to face facts though. When the NZRU signs broadcasting deals it is based on (off the top of my head) 60% being for AB games, 30% for Super rugby and 10% for the NPC. Going old skool may make NZ rugby fans feel nice for a while but the money will dry up significantly especially for non ABs.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    <i>We need to face facts though. When the NZRU signs broadcasting deals it is based on (off the top of my head) 60% being for AB games, 30% for Super rugby and 10% for the NPC. Going old skool may make NZ rugby fans feel nice for a while but the money will dry up significantly especially for non ABs.</i>

    But that's because the NPC is Tier 2 rugby; if it goes back to being Tier 1, presumably it'll get more like Tier 1 money?

    (Not totally, but. And I think that the gov't should be willing to subsidise the non-AB game as heavily as they do the ABs.)

    Also Aussie rugby may be stuffed no matter what, squeezed between League, AFL and football.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But that's because the NPC is Tier 2 rugby; if it goes back to being Tier 1, presumably it'll get more like Tier 1 money?

    It's 3rd tier rugby. Super rugby is the second tier.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Aussie rugby in the past was based around two average teams pulling together to try to beat NZ sides picked from several strong sides and the results generally spoke for themselves. It was a bit like the Kiwis v the Kangaroos. Now the playing field is a lot more level with 4 professional Aussie sides and they can even afford to poach a few top class league players from time to time. All that would disappear in the blink of an eye if they are locked out of a NZ comp.

    The thing with the broadcasting deal is that at least the Super 14 has some appeal to South African viewers (because they are in it), Australian viewers 9because they are in it) and European viewers because they are watching the very best 14 teams that the South Hemisphere can offer.

    If you cut back to a NZ domestic comp the number of people abroad who want to watch it would dry up massively. Aussies aren't going to watch Otago v Northland and the South Africans will pay it as much attention as we do to the curry cup. I mean how many curry cup teams can we even name let alone know the result of a single game from last year?

    The money our professionals get paid would dry up massively and the NZRU would be forced to play more and more test matches and exhibition style matches to attempt to maintain current pay packets.

    I suspect they will go for a 12 team NZ, Aussie, Pacific and Japanese based comp (possibly no PI team) with some conference style to keep interest up. Only problem is do they make it go for 20 weeks or 10?

    I think their only real option to keep the quality high is to keep them as franchises but in terms of interest and current complaints from G9 sides that is going to cause an enormous shit storm and be a PR disaster.

    Basically they are royally f$%ked whatever they come up with as it will either make people feel nice but earn less money or earn more money and further alienate people.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Kennedy,

    No Super rugby = no professional rugby in NZ, the NPC would only semi pro at best, To earn a living top players will head off shore, so it would be either:

    a semi pro all blacks (i.e. not even remotely the best players) or none or very few all blacks playing in the the NPC.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 224 posts Report Reply

  • Naly D,

    I think the media, NZRU, SANZAR and unions have been approaching the 'problems' facing rugby incorrectly. I like to think [and have been telling a few people lately] that there's three tiers of problems.
    A. Problems with the game
    These are things like;
    * The fact that there is no fan buy-in with rugby anymore. Following my post on Ken Block, a friend had a go at me for giving him focus, saying that 'he's a crap rally driver'. I agreed. I then pointed out to him that I'd simply pointed out that he's a good ambassador for the sport, because he gets fans who like him. They'll eventually realise that he's shit, but then they'll move on to other drivers. [I backed this up with the argument that this friend originally liked the Shell V8 Supercar team, then Steven Richards and Castrol Perkins, then when Richards swapped to Ford he started following Garry Rogers] This used to happen with union. Remember Bull Allen? Christian Cullen? Jeff Wilson? Joeli Vidiri? Etc etc. The days where rugby players had personality are long gone - Ali Williams has shown glimpses of it, but not enough. [Don't get me started on my 'V8 Supercars are dependent on sponsors and they can say controversial things, or that they're gonna beat the pants off a dude/team, so why can't rugby players' argument]

    * A lack of provincial engagement. The Highlanders picked up on this, but the Canes, Blues, Crusaders and Chiefs haven't really. The reason I think the Canes used to get such a good crowd was because people from Palmy etc had no problem travelling down for big matches. They also had their own match every year. But when that was removed Palmy residents kinda turned around and said 'well stuff you then'.

    Then there's the by-products of rugby which are mainly local issues, like

    * The fact that the Blues play their games two hours after peak traffic time on Fridays. This means that workers, if they want to get changed etc, have to sit in traffic, go home, get changed and leave straight away. Oh and the lack of parking around Eden Park could have something to do with it too. Then you've got the issue of travel for Highlanders fans too.

    Then there're the 'why the fuck are you still arguing about it' issues.

    * Rucking. The game has evolved since rucking was commonplace. You think it will solve cheating at the ruck? No way.
    Also, how're you going to feel when Carter/Weepu/Bowden/Donald is caught at the bottom of their first ruck of the season and get their backs cut open like a whale involved in 'scientific research'?

    There's more, in my opinion, but I can't be arsed writing them. I've been meaning to blog this for a while. But I'm lazy.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 307 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Fewer players (whether from the top overseas or coming up through the ranks) versus NZRU forming a product attractive to sponsers is the heart of the issue I think. More player then more interchangability between Super 14 and NPC, less need to reliance on the same faces/bodies and then recovery time, more games in more places at all levels.

    Given that seems unlikely, fewer Super xx games and reinvesting attention in NPC, Maori, Ferns, ABs.

    And ELVs? Let's check the motivation here: Ti make the game more attractive to sponsers or coming from players concerns?

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    You make some good points Naly but

    The fact that the Blues play their games two hours after peak traffic time on Fridays. This means that workers, if they want to get changed etc, have to sit in traffic, go home, get changed and leave straight away. Oh and the lack of parking around Eden Park could have something to do with it too. Then you've got the issue of travel for Highlanders fans too.

    these things have never changed but both teams used to get near double the support.

    Tom:

    No Super rugby = no professional rugby in NZ, the NPC would only semi pro at best, To earn a living top players will head off shore, so it would be either:

    a semi pro all blacks (i.e. not even remotely the best players) or none or very few all blacks playing in the the NPC.

    Partly true but not completely for the following reasons
    1) we already lost 15 AB players from last year to the Northern hemisphere under the comp we have right now so it's not like that will be a new issue.

    2) the Northern Hemisphere unions are looking at capping the number of foreign players as it is making it hard for them to field decent international sides as they have piss all depth (and talent for that matter).

    3) Our players won't be going to Australia as they would have no comp.

    4) Our players won't go to South Africa because they are too tribal to accept our players.

    We would definately lose more than now, and more of the top players but then we change our eligibility rules for the ABs so they all still play several games a year in an AB jersey. Then we could like,... be, ummmm, regarded as NORMAL and actually professional. Also, remember that most of the money the NZRU earns comes from the ABs, NOT the Super 14 and NPC. I'd say going for broke with an NPC comp would mean a 20-30% (max) paycut for every professional rugby player in NZ. But there's no way it would be semi professional for the first division players. They would still be earning 60,000+ each (for the worst players) and if they feel they need another job during the week then they're a tad greedy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Naly D,

    these things have never changed

    No, but petrol prices have.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 307 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    Super Rugby get rid of it.

    Super Rugby is a waste of space it is flawed in that it offers token recognition to the junior partners of the franchises (how many tasman based all blacks ever played an NPC game?

    The first issue is the Arrogance of the NZRU saying let's chuck another couple of teams in there we will just start earlier. So you summer sports get stuffed.

    What is needed is something similar to how the football (Soccer) is organised in structure and adopt a premier competition based on the premier league. Multiple divisions played over two rounds.

    The highest placed teams enter into a champions league format competition that includes clubs from around the southern hemisphere.

    The two round structure would mean that you wouldn't end up with the ridiculous situation that the Air NZ cup presented that has seen Waikato play in Wellington once in the last since the format change (and they were awful)

    Automatic promotion relegation for the bottom and top 2 teams in each division
    Introduce a cup that is competed by all of the provincial teams in New Zealand.
    Introduce a salary cap
    Introduce a transfer fee to all clubs (i.e. stop teams like Canterbury and Wellington buying in a the talent, does anyone else remember Ben Herring absolutely dominating the Wellington loosies before they brought him) The fee would also apply to international clubs and would put money back in the coffers of club rugby.

    Sometimes ex-players don't make te best administrators.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Automatic promotion relegation for the bottom and top 2 teams in each division

    I fail to see how promotion/relegation is going to work in a professional/amateur split competition.

    1st division is professional, 2nd division is amateur. There is a large rift between the abilities of the two divisions and this will continue to grow. What chance would a 2nd division team have of beating a 1st division team?

    And, I say this as an amateur sports administrator, how can you run a province which jumps between amateur and professional competitions? One year you need to sign a bunch of players to contracts and find lots of money to pay them, the next year the contracts are player agreements for no money. One year you need to employ more staff to cope in the 1st division, next year you're down to a couple of staff and amateurs running the rest.

    No sponsor is going to sign up for a team when they know that most likely it'll be a one year deal because the team will slip down to the lower profile 2nd division after a year.

    It's all very well to compare to other professional competitions overseas, but those are professional tiers, not professional/amateur tiers.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    And, I say this as an amateur sports administrator, how can you run a province which jumps between amateur and professional competitions? One year you need to sign a bunch of players to contracts and find lots of money to pay them, the next year the contracts are player agreements for no money. One year you need to employ more staff to cope in the 1st division, next year you're down to a couple of staff and amateurs running the rest.

    My understanding of the sponsorship structure is that only top teams have secured multiyear deals with their sponsors. The teams that are at the bottom of the competition have revolving sponsors (including B.O.P's string of failed finance companies) As far as the wages go most of the top players wages are met by the NZRU

    Teams such as B.O.P. Hawkes Bay and Northland are not composed of solely professional players. As I recall some of the players who weren't on super 14 contracts put in the best performances of last years NPC.

    That is the essence of what is wrong with super 14 it is all about money. It is about selling more merchandise, shitty marketing (I am talking to you Hurricanes)

    I think what I am really getting at is that the current model doesn't work and needs to be overhauled or scrapped

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    I think our administrators would probably do well to have a look at competitions such as the Scottish Football Leagues, or even the English Football Leagues (sans Premier). This would let them see how promotion/relegation can work where there are vast differences in funding between teams at the different levels.

    I suspect that either the some teams would be able to maintain a certain level of decent players and bounce up and down repeatedly, some would go up & immediately spend to heavily and if they were relegated again would be in serious trouble, and others would slowly build after promotion and manage to hold onto their spot.

    In this sort of situation you would hope that some kind of salary cap would help thwart the second possibility - as the last thing you would want was a union that got itself in the crapper financially and couldn't be rescued.

    Does anyone know what the revenue split (from tv and live crowds) is in the UK when you compare the domestic competition to the European comp? I think a structure such as that would be the ideal in terms of a great competition.

    So it could be that you have domestic multi-league competitions in each of the 3 SANZAR countries perhaps played home & away starting in April and running to the end of year tours, with a Champions League type competition running concurrently and a window in June for Internationals. If Australia can't maintain their own domestic competition perhaps their 'conference' or whatever you want to call it could be the one that included the Pacific Island & Japanese teams?

    I think realistically at some stage a decision is going to have to be made that its just too hard fitting in South Africa into a fully fledged competition, but we do want them in some kind of competition & we don't want them going to Europe.

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    My understanding of the sponsorship structure is that only top teams have secured multiyear deals with their sponsors. The teams that are at the bottom of the competition have revolving sponsors (including B.O.P's string of failed finance companies) As far as the wages go most of the top players wages are met by the NZRU

    Not many of the top players play for Bay of Plenty.

    And no sponsor is going to front for a team that has a chance to disappear down to the 2nd division and therefore off TV.

    And with no sponsors at the second division, no team is ever going to be able to afford the players needed to get up to the first division.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    Teams such as B.O.P. Hawkes Bay and Northland are not composed of solely professional players.

    Thats very true, many of the Hawke's Bay team were only semi-professional. Michael Johnson was a builder, and only stopped when he got a call up to the Hurricanes last year. Now that he didn't get picked up this year, he's probably back building.

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    And no sponsor is going to front for a team that has a chance to disappear down to the 2nd division and therefore off TV.

    Well, likely no international sponsor - but local ones might stick around. For years Hawke's Bay were sponsored by a local company.

    Your concern is valid though, so perhaps it should be possible for some of those lower ranked teams to be owned by individuals / corporations rather than local unions? That may be the only way that promotion / relegation really works in the football world - rich benefactor buys club to stroke their own ego.

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    My father loves to rant about what is wrong with rugby. We had massive yarn about it while at the Singapore Gran Prix last year (oops name dropped, anywho)

    His thoughts were divvy the Ab's up around the country, I know that logistically this wouldn't work, but you could stop current all blacks moving to provinces with high concentrations of players.

    I also had the bizarre idea of opening up All black selection to international based players. (one condition is that you must at least 3 npc games and 2 club rugby games per session) once again logistical nightmare and potentially weakening domestic rugby.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Francis Wevers,

    I have also become bored with Super rugby. After loyally buying three stadium tickets every year since the Westpac Stadium opened this year I gave it away - too much money for too little value. The games weren't fun to go to anymore; the crowds were pathetically small and disengaged from the game happening on the paddock and there were too many breaks in play which interupted the flow - maybe rugby has been taking a cue from American football or gridiron.

    When I compare the Hurricanes or Lions crowd with a Phoemnix crowd - there's no comparison. The Phoenix crowd is engaged with the game and has the wonderful Fever to keep the emotions running throughout the game. Football flows - rugby fits and starts.

    It's not really the ELVs though - its the mess around the scrum and the constant involvement of the referees.

    But I think what's really at the core is that rugby has taken its eye off the ball. They are running the sport for the commercial interests, for tv, for the top players, for the administrators - and have stopped running it for the ordinary supporters.

    Ticket prices are ridiculous; it's not family friendly - and then its not even fun to watch.

    I don't know what the solution is but I sure know what the problem is and it won't get me back anytime soon.

    It's like a favourite toy that we've grown out of - we remember its glories but its tired and the paint is worn so it no longer has that capacity to excite.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5 posts Report Reply

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