We do see a lot of problems emerging as well as a game that could arguably be seen as thriving. Attendances at the Premiership games are growing year on year, clubs in the Division One are up around the 3,000 mark...never has the game had more allure or had a higher profile (am I right in saying that?). The 6 Nations is turning into a great competition and the Super14 is basically a benchmark for world rugby. You could be forgiven for saying that rugby's star is in the ascendancy.....or should we be saying it's reached it's zenith? The Heineken Cup row is just one more chapter in the club/country debacle. Players are burning themselves out as the clubs play game after game scrambling round for extra cash, the consequences of not getting that cash are there for all to see. Orrell, one the games fine old names, is going to the wall....Scottish rugby is axing one of it's professional teams (The one based in it's traditional heartland). Connacht almost went to the wall a couple of years back and it seems the Argentinians are stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea (they could miss a tremendous opportunity with the forthcoming Irish tour). So where are we? Let's remember this is a game, ie professional rugby, that's only just over a decade old. Is it just a game over-reaching itself leading to a temporary growing pain or is the game has found the limits of it's appeal and therefore it's financial clout if so does this make it unsustainable? It can be said that there is nothing wrong with ambition but as a footy fan I can certainly warn of the consequences of 'living the dream' boom & bust tactics. This post will naturally focus on the UK as I can only really talk about what I 'know' but basically it all boils down to "Can rugby compete with football?"...if it can then there is genuinely nothing to stop it and considering how dull the G14+Chelsea dominated domestic soccer scene is it could be the perfect time. If you consider that the clubs & the national sides did over a hundred years of groundwork before taking the plunge and going professional then it's difficult to accuse them of running before they can walk. I'd say the bedrock is there and the support is being nurtured...The Heineken Cup & Scottish situations in particular are worrying. In England at least the appeal of the game, although undeniably top heavy, is progressing...it just seems that the focus is skewed. Who really cares about the Anglo-Welsh...it's a terrible tournament yet the Heineken Cup something the game got absolutely spot on is being allowed to die 'cause of a selfish power struggle. From what I see and read I do genuinely think that, in England at least, the sabre-rattling is just a blip and shouldn't really do too much harm. A division and a half of professional clubs and decent although means uniformly high attendances all the way down to Division Two (and in some cases beyond : 2,500 at the Athletic Ground for Richmond v London Scottish). The game's profile seems to be on the up but it's not indestructible. Wranglings, boycotts & brinkmanship could force it back into the shadows though. That's the main question posed by my state of the nation address...I'd say the game's organic growth is happening. The RFU really do need to get the BBC on-board. Perhaps I'm a dinosaur, we all know Sky do a great job but there needs to be something on terrestrial tv...unless you happen to have a rugby obsessed landlord in your local there's nothing to get the Skyless folks watching domestic rugger the week after the 6 Nations finishes. That's what'll pique people's interest into going down to their local club be it Leicester Tigers or Orrell, an overly simplistic view but it's a natural progression. Further to this the continent's premier domestic rugby tournament needs to be protected, not used as a pawn in a petty squabble, the profile it adds to the game is worth it's weight in gold. The number of games players are forced into playing each season needs to be looked at, injury after injury after injury is a natural consequence of ultra long seasons with hardly any break whatsoever. The clubs do have a point about the international teams use of their players but it's the national sides that drive the game forward. Surely it can't be beyond the realms of possibility to come up with a solution the protects the national side, the club's interests and the players. If that can be done then purely from an English point of view the path will be a lot clearer. Is this just naive? What do you think? A game over-reaching it's appeal or a growing pain for a young but thriving sport? I know it's a totally Anglocentric post...us arrogant English are like that . I'd be particularly interested in the thoughts of those in other countries about where the game lies (especially Scotland). Also how does the state of Rugby Union compare with League in this country....anything you want to add feel free to chip in.