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Speaker: Apathy is where the heart is

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  • Richard Irvine,

    I've been trying to get my head around those All Blacks leaving to take up huge contracts overseas - I guess the team is made up of your average early to mid twenties kiwi guys - think of your workmates or little brother and his mates. In their situation they (or me) would do the same - it's natural to want to see the world, especially if you're getting paid sh*teloads to do it.

    It must be pretty suffocating being an All Black, and we're part of the problem with unrealistic expectiations. They don't wake up every moring and think 'today I will go to the shop and buy the milk and paper in a manner befitting the black jersey and all those who've gone before me'.

    I don't think it would be hard to get the public involved again - this is New Zealand after all, we'll be back. I don't trust the Rugby Union to do it though - I can just see it "Your Official Chance To Interact With A Coca-Cola All Black In The Powerade Power Zone In Association With Ford".

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 242 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Talk to fans, and they want afternoon rugby in the winter months of June, July and August, a season that doesn't start while they are still at the beach, at least an attempt to reverse the decline in grassroots rugby and the centrepiece competition to be the Air New Zealand cup. Now putting aside the practicality of this wish list, what has been the NZRU response? To listen and try to square the circle? Not on your life. Instead I see it reported that Grahame Henry wants the All Blacks out of the Air NZ Cup. And what Grahame wants, he'll get. There is your problem right there.

    Its like a relationship break up - people still want to rant about it, but the possibility of reconciliation grows fainter with every passing week.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2212 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Unhelpful as it is, I know why I've been apathetic about rugby, and why I've started caring again. (Disclaimer: Crusader's fan)

    I can't care about rugby in February. The earlier the Super 14 season starts, the less I care. It's cricket season. I didn't start watching rugby until about the start of April. By the time the Crusaders played Auckland I was into it, but we're nearly at semis. I've no idea how the Chiefs got where they are, or what happened to the Bulls.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    It is clear now that critics Henry's resting policy for the downturn in S14 gates was plain wrong.

    I agree about afternoon games. It is really hard to take children - future fans - to matches that don't finish to close to 10pm. There should be a better mix.

    Then there is the issue of treating fans like walking wallets to be emptied. I am sick of the way it is assumed as soon as you are in the stadium threshold you surrender all rights and independence of thought to the RFU or whoever it might be. Even the music blasting away all the time adds to this nightmare, let alone the emptying of bags of anything that can be eaten or drunk during a game.

    We have paid to watch some sport. Nothing else.

    Time to stop treating fans as rich morons and maybe we will feel more like watching again.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    After years living in the US I could never get a straight answer as to whether American Football did well on TV because it had all those gaps that commercials fit well in or whether the game had changed to provide the gaps so that TV would accept it more .... usually people would just give me that "are you taking the piss" look

    So I gotta ask .... is that what's happening to rugby?

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2606 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Paul: the TV timeouts are relatively new in American football. A couple of minutes to restart after each score; a timeout at 2 minutes before the end of each half and the division of the game into quarters (with a stoppage). All of these things help TV stations who want to show the games, as you can tell your advertisers that their ads will be shown during the game.

    But then there's basketball, that has hardly any stoppages. So go figure.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    The answer to the NZRU's popularity problems does lie with the fans. I've not heard of the NZRU doing anything like a focus group or a survey or anything.

    Does anybody know of the NZRU doing any kind of market research that doesn't revolve around making more money but engaging fans?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • JCDC,

    A rugby breather...please

    I think the Super season starts too early anyway, it should have started a couple of weeks ago after cricket season had wound down. I guess this was compounded by the fact I was all rugby'd out after the World Cup. I can't watch rugby all year round.

    As for the ELV's, I think they're great. I watched my first full game last weekend and found the pace was fantastic.

    Since May 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Slevin,

    I agree about afternoon games. It is really hard to take children - future fans - to matches that don't finish to close to 10pm. There should be a better mix.

    One of the reasons why the Phoenix did so well early on - lots of Sunday afternoon games.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Absolutely correct about the Super 14 starting too early. Supposedly this is to get one up on the NRL, but it’s the NRL that benefits here, because people are actually wanting it to start when it rolls around. There’s a real arrogance about it too, meaning other sports (esp. cricket) just have to fit around it.

    Afternoon games is a given too (good point Dan re the Phoenix), but when the NZRU is getting most of its money from overseas SKY subscribers that’s a tricky one. No excuse for the shortage of afternoon games in the NPC or whatever it’s called these days though.

    So these two reasons are behind the gradual disillusionment in the game, but it’s really taken off over the last year, and that’s down to the disaster of last year. Not so much what happened but the way it’s been rammed down our throats.

    Last year’s Super 14 was clearly a shambles. No-one was consulted (I like Haydn’s idea of a focus group, but I assume he’s taking the piss) about it. We were told This Is How It Will Be. So that’s a big part of the year gone, and meant we had an All Black side in free-fall by the time the RWC came along.

    The back-room reappointment of Henry was breathtaking really, I still haven’t got my head around that one. Is there anyone out there who is seriously looking forward to seeing any gloating smugness from that panel should we demolish England in June?

    And then, just when we were starting to get over it, out came the “review”, crammed full of corporate bingo


    Oh, and having a CEO who was never elected doesn’t help either.

    And damn you for posting that Haydn, I was having quite a good, rugby-free day up until I read that :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Irvine,

    Afternoon games kick arse. I've never enjoyed rugby more than watching Waikato play in the NPC in the afternoons - NPC final 1992, taking the shield off Auckland in 93 after eight years... glorious. Night games were a novelty then, they way they should be now.

    We really need to take the game back off the Rugby Union. I don't envy them, though, reality is our economy and dollar just isn't big enough to compete with the Europeans. God only knows what Rugby will look like in 20 years.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 242 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Night rugby is about the only thing you can blame on the Northern Hemisphere money situation though RI.

    The rest is all self-inflicted.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Julian Melville,

    And speaking of the music... who picks the music at Super 14 games? What on earth are they thinking? It's always puzzled me greatly.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 199 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    @Legbreak: Dude I was was dead serious about focus groups. I think it's the best way to get feedback from the public. It's why movies have test audiences.

    And sorry for bringing up the rugby again.

    @Richard: I heard the other night (through Dropkick Megan) that as the NZRU is basically an exporter of a product, the economy hasn't been so great for them. Perhaps an economic downturn will be good for rugby.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Isn't the music just The Exponents greatest hits? Although I'll admit never understanding why they play that terrible "Oh Ah, wanna be my girl" song.

    They should play old school funk, that'd be awesome.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Yup; the music gets me too, and I used to actually quite like Blur.

    HG; this is an organisation that does not elect its CEO and gets an old family friend of the President to perform an Independent Review. And now you’re expecting a focus group?

    Tew will go ice-skating in hell before that happens.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Irvine,

    [http://sportreview.net.nz/2007/07/12/rugby-without-music-no-way-jose/|The music kicks arse]]

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 242 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Irvine,

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 242 posts Report Reply

  • Belt,

    There have been quite a few opinion pieces recently about the decline in interest for rugby. I've even written some. But I'm not sure that the authors (including me) were quite right. From what I can tell rugby fans' attitudes are changing but their (our) enthusiasm is not dropping.

    I am in that demographic. Too much of it, and then the obligatory period of mourning after the World Cup.

    This year I'm not even playing the virtual game.

    I'm sure I'll be back, but yes, the decline in rugby in myself, my friends and my family is real.

    Too much of it. Too little time for it.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Smart,

    On Wednesday I was at St Pats Silverstream. I walked by a wall of pictures of young men proudly wearing their "stream regalia. I laughed with another older man. We agreed that this is what the game is about.

    I hear Andy Haden and others referring to the game as a product.

    The sporting public pander to young men who are skilled and talented at sport and set them on pedestals for which they are in many cases ill prepared. Soccer in Europe is indicative of the problem. How long before this is a rugby story. [ http://www.stuff.co.nz/4505465a18075.html]

    When you compare the salary packets of these superstars. Are they worth it? Perhaps it is the value system that is wrong?

    The game is still loved and always will be the fickle nature of fashion is that it will go through periods of being fashionable and periods when it is not. Does it matter?

    Only if the All Blacks start to consistently lose to the Northern Hemisphere. I am sure our love of the game will keep it going.

    It is interesting that Haden is best remembered as a player for trying to milk a penalty against Wales. It is this approach to the great game and the vale we place on the stars that is having a detrimental effect in my opinion.

    Since Nov 2006 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    It is clear now that critics Henry's resting policy for the downturn in S14 gates was plain wrong.

    Not necessarily. At the time everybody was citing that as reasons for not going. There was plenty of anecdotal evidence of people showing up, saying "where's dan carter dear?" and then people dropping off. There were also many of us saying that these policies are bollocks and won't help win the WRC long before it all unfolded that way.

    The reason why people are staying away this year is to do with the hangover of depression and anger from last year (make no mistake, it is very, very real), and the early kickoff date certainly did not help.

    Funny though, you start the year too early and nobody will go because the weather is too nice and now we have the raining hosing down sideways and people staying away because the weather is too bad.

    Where's that stadium with a roof on it with quite possibly no Highlanders team to play in it?

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    One other thing. The NZRU and SRFU DO NOT release crowd figures for games. It's this secret squirrel crap that drives me nuts (no pun intended). In Aussie though they release figures for all games because its so cut throat that they want to track all that stuff to compare Super 14, NRL, A-League and AFL.

    If you are lucky a journalist will have asked around at a game in NZ and will include the figure in a match report and sometimes a team will have it floating around somewhere in their official website but their is no policy and has never been one to release figures.

    This is basically unprecedented in any professional team sport IN THE WORLD!

    I know all this because I have searched high and low for attendance figures for hours on end (sad bastard) compiling whatever I can find. If anybody knows where to find them then help a brotha out!

    I can find you the attendance figures for ever NRL game going back 30 years but do you reckon I can find a figure for the Highlanders game v the Sharks a couple of weeks ago?

    And that's why I can only be approximate when I say that in 2007 the average crowd in NZ was 18,800 (19 crowds known and 12 not known) and the average this year so far is about 15,600 (21 known and 7 not known). Although several of the crowds are simply rough figures like the "16,000" that went to watch the Crusaders v Sharks match or "7,500" at a recent Highlanders game.

    Interesting to compare with South Africa though where they have some hardcase crowd numbers. The Stormers are averaging over 40,000!!!, while the Lions are averaging 7,500.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    "Familiarity breeds contempt"

    That has something to do with why I'm not the rugby fan that I used to be. To put it simply there's simply far too much rugby about these days.

    When the Super 12 first started I used to be a regular attendee at games and probably made it to 90 percent of home games from 97-99. In those days I even endeavoured to get to AB games if I could.

    But now I can't be bothered as I'm rugbied out. When the season runs from February to November it's just not special any more. Tests used to be an event, now they're a commodity. That's why I've switched off.

    In fact my rugby activity is now reduced to betting against the AB's at World Cup time - a strangely profitable activity.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Prior to the Super 12 there would have been 9 weeks of NPC plus 2 weeks of playoffs and about 5 home tests. There was also that Super 6 and Super 10 competition running some of the time though I can't remember it well but for all intents and purposes we had about 16 weekends with shamateur rugby on. Probably why club rugby was so much cooler as well.

    Now we get 15 weeks of Super 14, 6 home tests and then about 12 weeks of ANZ Cup. So about the equavalent of 33 weeks of professional rugby on our shores. Throw in the Sevens weekend as well, and Pay TV showing Currie Cup, Heinekin Cup etc, and all the while club rugby is still trucking along in the background and we get exactly that watered down feel for the game. The interest is still there as stated in the original post but the passion has been eroded big time.

    We should use the NFL as an example. 16 regular season games over 17 weeks, and 4 weeks of playoffs. That's it. Shows over. Most popular sport in the US for bums on seats per match.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Then we look at football (soccer).

    The premier league, the champions league, the uefa cup, the scottish league, the bundesliga, the spanish league, the italian league, the european cup and probably a bunch I don't know about.

    How does that work? Is it just the huge number of fans?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

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