Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: The Master Plan: No one can stop us now!

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  • Edward Siddle,

    Paul mentioning the english football championship playoffs made me think of one of my own hobbyhorses in relation to Hadyn's suggestion of straight semis/finals for the npc. i'd much rather see some kind of 3 week system with either 4 or 5 sides but either way teams who finish 1 and 2 getting an extra life, so it goes 1v2 and 3v4. this is something i'd like to see in the english champ playoffs for much the same reason that paul hates them too: also an ipswich town fan. might give us a better shot. all might have meant that the hurricanes might've gotten through to a few more finals given how we always seem to end up playing the south island scummers in the semis....

    it is interesting to extend giovanni's list of npc winners back a bit further, because it adds in three more interesting names:
    1980 - manawatu
    1979 - counties
    1978 - wellington
    1977 - canterbury
    1976 - bay of plenty

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    As somebody isn't into rugby, maybe I could suggest an alternative approach.

    There are several hundred thousand people in NZ who *are* really into the sport, enough to buy tickets to quite a few games. Plus all the people (including tourists and expats) who will turn out for NZ/England or whatever.

    That equates to maybe $100 million in gate money (plus sponsorship), which should be enough when the cost of the stadiums (which I think the taxpayer has mostly already forked out for as a sunk cost?) is taken off to finance the game quite adequately.

    So perhaps the rugby authorities should just cut their coats according to the cloth and accept that they'll never be able to pay the players Beckham type money?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    The rugby season is too long, we need to cut out the boring bits. The round robin phase of the Air NZ Cup is boring, inconsequential rubbish - get rid of it.

    Propose making the competition a straight knock-out like the FA cup. Our 26 unions makes for a 5 round competition, play each tie home & away and we have a short 10 week season. Top 6 teams from each year get a pass into the second round of the next year.

    Every game would matter, all the provinces would have a chance and rugby would be the winner on the day.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    That equates to maybe $100 million in gate money (plus sponsorship), which should be enough when the cost of the stadiums is taken off to finance the game quite adequately.

    I would guess that's a gross over-estimation. And even if that was the right figure, you are looking at 10-12 stadiums around the country, all of which need upkeep and employees (though they do get some volunteers). Then there are player salaries (say 10x $1.5M), coach salaries, etc etc.

    Beyond that if every team received $10M each (I really do think that estimate is far too high) then they might be alright.

    So perhaps the rugby authorities should just cut their coats according to the cloth and accept that they'll never be able to pay the players Beckham type money?

    I think that's what we are mainly suggesting, while at the same time suggesting things they can do to increase the revenue.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Pretty sure all ANZC teams run at a loss. It’s just that the S14 franchise bases can underwrite it with their profits from that competition.


    And there’s your problems.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Ethan Tucker,

    Hi all - an enjoyable discussion, this one. I'm only a casual rugby fan, someone who enjoys watching a game with mates but is turned off by the relentless deluge of matches. Particularly in the aforementioned Feb/Mar cricket zone, because I'm more a fan of that sport.

    I've only been to a couple of All Blacks tests in my life due to the expense involved (both v Eng: Twickenham in Dec 97 and Wellington Jun 03), and have never been to an NPC or S14 match.

    I think my casual interest in the game could have grown through the years if rugby had moderated its money grab and limited the number of matches played - the S14 being a prime culprit. I'd much rather watch an NPC match involving real teams with historic rivalries every week or two than a contrived intercontinental league. Similarly, the Tri-Nations needs to be scaled back because even solid fans are getting a bit sick of the flogging-an-ailing-horse modus operandi. Sure, it's nice 'n convenient to play Australia regularly, and the rivalry with SAf is interesting, but just look at the numbers of tests played against those two nations (130 and 75) as opposed to other interesting rivals: England 31, France 46, Scotland & Wales in the 20s, Argentina only 13. Familiarity breeds contempt.

    And sure, I agree with those who call for more afternoon matches and a shift away from night matches. It's a winter sport! Call me soft if you want, but I'm not wearing six layers of clothes to go for a night out (bearing in mind that I used to live in Wellington, in which a night trip to the Stadium could be balmy but would more likely involve Antarctic breezes shooting up your trouser legs), and I certainly don't want every Fri or Sat evening out with my mates to revolve around a TV screen with a rugby match on. V is the S of L, and all that (where V=variety, etc.)

    Lastly, one thing that occurred to me: in scanning this thread I don't think I saw the Ranfurly Shield mentioned. Now there's a bit of history that's worth reminding people about: a chance for the minnows to put one over on the moneybags teams. That's the sort of competition that breeds legends and keeps the spirit of the game alive.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 118 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Propose making the competition a straight knock-out like the FA cup. Our 26 unions makes for a 5 round competition, play each tie home & away and we have a short 10 week season. Top 6 teams from each year get a pass into the second round of the next year.

    Every game would matter, all the provinces would have a chance and rugby would be the winner on the day.

    The FA Cup can only work like that because the teams all play in another competition at the same time, so if a team gets knocked out they still have a whole nother set of games to play.

    What rugby province is going to contract coaches, players (either amateur or professional), a whole infrastructure, stadium etc, couple of months of preseason training, when they might only play two games in a whole season.

    It could only work if the teams were all playing in some parallel competition which wasn't a knockout, and we don't have that here.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    While it is a bit late....

    I watched Wellington play Manawatu last night, which on the whole was a pretty good game. I am a Wellington supporter though, so maybe my memory is tainted by the final result. But while watching I did think that one of the problems with rugby at the moment is that the refereeing seems arbitary at best. I could blame Steve Walsh (and a large part of me wants to) but I think any game you watch with any referee will seem the same. It is never clear when a ruck is formed, when the tackeld player is holding on etc. So any time the whistle goes it seems like the ref has just picked a number out of the hat.

    If there was some way of making this clearer to everyone things may improve. I quite like the idea of the refs being miked, NFL-style, so that when they do blow the whistle they can then explain to the crowd what has happened. Even then the decision will still be random, but at least we'll all know.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 192 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    What's the problem exactly? The local Cup's just a place to hide the lesser professionals once the Super's over and the ABs are on tour.

    People don't like it? Duh. It's a meaningless "don't go to Europe yet, please" scheme that likes to pretend it's still the same premier rugby division of old, when it's not, and they simply can't afford to make it any more than that now it's all vaguely professional.


    I'd argue they could take the Cup off Murdock (that lot can always show more foreign tests or some crap) and fit it to what it really is; a bunch of no-hopers and nearly-there's kicking a ball around on the afternoons before the real matches. Fit for local TV, taking the kids along, and national coverage of the finals.

    Make it a small two-round (home and away) comp with separate semis and final, Saturday arvo only, no booze, overlapping late super and early tests. Finish early and let the lesser lights go winter in Europe when it's over like they did when we where pretending to be amateur. Auto relegation for a couple of the semi=pro teams down to regional comps below it to keep everyone interested. Tada.

    Since Nov 2006 • 608 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I hate the English system for the fact that if you aren't a supporter of the three big teams all you can hope for is to not be relegated or to the team that gives one of the big teams an upset. "Go team! Don't Lose!" What a fun thing.

    I'm not sure that's true -- Tottenham won the League Cup this year, and Portsmouth won the FA Cup. The most League titles won by any club is 17; the most NFL titles won is 12, and the most World Series' won is 26. The most FA Cups won by any team is 11. And the English footballing competitions are much older than either of the American competitions. Almost every English club has spent time in the lower divisions. However, if you look at the Scottish system, Rangers and Celtic utterly monopolise a very similar set up.

    There isn't a simple correlation, and there certainly isn't a simple causation.

    The other way that the US system makes it more likely different teams will win is that they have a daft post-season, which means that teams can utterly dominate the main league and then suffer an upset defeat to lose the trophy. I don't think that's a particularly good way to run a competition -- leagues and cups are different, and shouldn't be hybridised. The American system just makes it more of a lottery, after already using one of the more exhaustive ranking devices.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    And the English footballing competitions are much older than either of the American competitions.

    If you'll excuse the use of wikipedia:

    The Southern League, covering the southern two-thirds of England and Wales, was founded in 1894 and is one of the oldest leagues still in existence

    Whereas the MLB (baseball) was founded in 1869. So 26 titles (by the Yankees) over 139 years is pretty ok with me. And even if you only look at World Series wins that started officially in 1903, 9 years after "one of the oldest leagues" in British football.

    The NFL is much younger (1920). But if you consider the professional era (as I was with football and rugby), that number drops to 5 (Cowboys, Steelers and 49ers).

    a daft post-season, which means that teams can utterly dominate the main league and then suffer an upset defeat to lose the trophy

    Isn't that exactly how they decide the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Champions Cup?

    Seems a little odd considering that statistically football (soccer) is apparently the sport where a "bad" team is the most likely to upset a "good" team.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Isn't that exactly how they decide the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Champions Cup?

    Yeah, the knockout competitions are decided that way. But leagues aren't, because once you've played every other team in the competition home-and-away you've tried every permutation, and you can just count up the points. There's no need for a knockout phase, except a desire for spectacle. I think that if you've won the league, you've won the league.

    The American post-season gives you farcical results, like the Patriots winning all but one of their games, and then losing by a touchdown to a clearly worse team, but because that game was the Superbowl, losing the competition. I can't see how that's a fair way to run an event.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    There's no need for a knockout phase, except a desire for spectacle. I think that if you've won the league, you've won the league.

    That's precisely the system we used to have in the NPC which they did away with to have semis and a final because it was often known a week or two before the end of the season who was going to win it. It was badly designed and not suited for a modern sports competition.

    I can't think of a single sports competition that doesn't enter a knock-out phase in some way at the finals.

    And if a team wins all their games all year but then loses the big one, that loss probably says as much about them as every win.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I can't think of a single sports competition that doesn't enter a knock-out phase in some way at the finals.

    Aside from all the national soccer leagues in Europe, you mean?

    And if a team wins all their games all year but then loses the big one, that loss probably says as much about them as every win.

    Oh, that's just rubbish. A league is a campaign that rewards consistency. An American style regular season followed by playoffs competition rewards peaking at the right time. They're simply two different formats. A team can win the former even while losing the last game or two to inferior competition, and is none the lesser for it. Of course in the latter format you don't get points for just winning the regular season, since that's not the ultimate prize. So I think the Patriots lost deservedly, in the same way that Inter won deservedly in Serie A in spite of their end of the season collapse.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    They're simply two different formats. A team can win the former even while losing the last game or two to inferior competition, and is none the lesser for it.

    Exactly, it's not like the teams don't know that, should they make the play-offs, they will be eliminated if they lose. You play to win the game, as the saying goes. There should be no, well "we can afford a late-season slump and still win" attitude.

    (to go off track) having watched most of the season and then the Superbowl, there was no way the Patriots were the better team in that game. the Giants dominated the whole park and had gone undefeated over the last half of the season. They also had arguably a harder season (Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins) compared with the Patriots (Jets, Bills, and Dolphins).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    So 26 titles (by the Yankees) over 139 years is pretty ok with me.

    Oh dear. Hadyn, I think it's best if you don't come over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. ;)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Hadyn, I think it's best if you don't come over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. ;)

    Not Yankee fans? Not baseball fans?

    sigh, I'll make do with re-heated turkey roll.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Jo S,

    I'm a Spurs fan and I still love following the EPL, even if we always seem to finish somewhere in the range of 4th to 12th.
    People laugh at the League Cup and my delight over silverware, but are their teams going to Europe? No!!

    <grin>

    With regards to the Ranfurly Sheild, I really don't think it is given enough emphasis at the moment. (Emphasis? Support? something).
    Loved going to the Sheild parades in Hamilton as a teenager, and the sheer pride that a sheild win would generate.
    Of course my partner, in his thwarted rage at the demotion of Northland is hanging out for them to challenge for the sheild towards the end of the season, so they can take it down a division with them and not let the big teams challenge for it ever again ...

    is it autumn yet? • Since May 2007 • 80 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Loved going to the Sheild parades in Hamilton as a teenager, and the sheer pride that a sheild win would generate.

    When I emigrated to NZ Waikato had the shield. We went to a chemist in Hamilton to buy some insect repellant and there it was, in all its splendour, sitting alongside sunscreens and assorted lotions. It taught me a couple of important lessons about New Zealand, right there. It also made me realise that the Italian soccer championship, being called scudetto or little shield, must have been something of that kind in origin
    and that having an object to embody it would be way cool.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Not Yankee fans? Not baseball fans?

    We are, emphatically, baseball fans. I LOVE baseball. There is nothing more fun to me than the seventh inning stretch. (Particularly as 'root root root for the home team' is much more amusing if you're a New Zealander...)

    My husband, though, has an irrational dislike of the Yankees. (And the Knicks. And the Cowboys. And the Jazz. And the Cubs. And... yeah.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    My husband, though, has an irrational dislike of the Yankees.

    That's cool then, I'm a Mets and Jets fan. And no dislike of sports teams is ever irrational, there is always some kind of warped logic behind it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    __I can't think of a single sports competition that doesn't enter a knock-out phase in some way at the finals.__

    Aside from all the national soccer leagues in Europe, you mean?

    I don't know anything about soccer on the 'mainland', and very little about it in the UK, but if you say so.

    __And if a team wins all their games all year but then loses the big one, that loss probably says as much about them as every win.__

    Oh, that's just rubbish.

    No I don't think so. Leagues work on averages - best performed team across a whole season. Which is a fair way to assess a team. It's perfectly possible to say a team had a great year, but didn't win the final or whatever.

    But in terms of sports having great marketability, and building throughout a season towards a climax, you can't beat a knockout. Various grand finals throughout the world attract interest from a much bigger range of people than people that would normally watch those two teams play. More intense, more media interest, and more often than not, knockout games produce better games because players are 100% committed to winning, not the 99% that they are committed during the main season. You'll get more drama, heroism, players taking the field injured excitement etc.

    Take for example the All Blacks. Great team all world cup year several times, favourites to win, fall over at the 2nd/3rd to last hurdle.

    If that happens once, then its just 'sports'. Happens three or four times, it starts to say something about a team and its culture and mental toughness. Both critics, and many fans of the All Blacks would agree with that. You wouldn't learn that if they just played in a league - it's something that you discover from a knockout.

    Doesn't make them a bad team, does start to indicate how they cope when the pressure is really on and it's win or go home.

    Take for example the Stanley Cup Western Conference finals between San Jose Sharks and Dallas stars. Dallas won the first three games straight, but San Jose came back to win games four and five, and if they won game six, they would have had a deciding game 7 at home. At the end of regular time in game 6 the two teams are locked up 1-1. They went into four overtimes periods (that's a full additional game and a bit) before Dallas scored the game-winning goal. Both goaltenders stood on their heads to keep their teams in the game, the Dallas goaltender let in one goal and made 61 saves. The San Jose goaltender was just as good.

    You won't see that sort of game any other way. I watched the whole thing, it was like a coaching manual on how one player can cling on to earn victory for their team.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Jo S,

    I’m a Spurs fan too, but I think it’s a while (early 90s?) since we finished 4th in the league

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Wain,

    Woah, late post all right here, only ran across the entire thing tonight clearly but whoever it was who above said:

    "leagues and cups are different, and shouldn't be hybridised"

    is right on the money. At least the Air NZ Cup is correctly named, it's a Cup, not a league.

    Perhaps the NZRU is allergic to the whole idea of something that has the word 'league' anywhere near it, but for me it's home and away the whole way.

    Sure, have a knockout Cup, that's cool (European rugby has the Heineken Cup, if there were a way to have a trans-Tasman or broader, trans-Pacific Cup perhaps, that could be cool - but maybe the Ranfurly Shield is the real Cup, only it's not a real Cup is it... hmm) however Haydn (how did you avoid an 'e' in your name BTW? And it's Manawatu also, not Manuwatu. Sorry, professionally anal there) your master plan falls down badly with a 9-round robin.

    Personally I've been enjoying this year's provincial championship. Even that turgid Shield clash got exciting in the last 10 on the weekend, because suddenly Southland realised they could win. And that Auckland weren't all that.

    But it has to be home and away if it's the main event. And direct promotion/relegation.

    And, it can't be that predictable when Wellington have won in living memory. Several times. And may win again this year! Roll on the Shield challenge...

    Finally, the EPL (to use ESPN speak) isn't dull. Yes, a salary cap would be a good idea, no, it won't happen. Not a new idea but: FA Cup winners should get direct Champions League entry, that would help re-incentivise that competition. Just 3 spots available from the EPL.

    PS How good are Manawatu this year? Not bad. Impressive. Just have to say...

    Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Haydn (how did you avoid an 'e' in your name BTW? And it's Manawatu also, not Manuwatu. Sorry, professionally anal there)

    It's Welsh, but it's spelled Hadyn :)

    And I probably misspelled Manawatu because I like to say it like Vanuatu.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

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