Has rugby union over-reached itself?

Discussion in 'The Clubhouse Bar' started by RoyalBlueStuey, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. 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.
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  3. eoino

    eoino Guest

    There are over 60 million people living in the UK. So, domestic soccer can stay on the top spot amongst Sport fans aswell as Rugby Union and Rugby League because you have enough people to support many sports. Ireland has a population 6 million people, the number one sport is GAA. Rugby and soccer would come second place and so numbers are fewer, in Australia there are 20 million people, again enough to support AR and Rugby as the two biggest sports..

    I dont see the game dying, because its really starting to pick up heavily amongst the Hispanic culture and in parts of Africa, it just takes longer to adapt than soccer and so will obviously take many more years to gain as much popularity, but soccer will eventualy die in world sports like every major sport in history and another will take its place.. whether its Rugby or Syncronized Swimming.. who knows!
  4. Ripper

    Ripper Guest

    The Advantage Rugby has, like Soccer is that it is easy to learn/play and is cheap - a game of touch rugby you just need a patch of dirt and a ball, so that will make it more accessiable to places like Africa, as well as Schools in places like Canada and the US (Cheaper than Gridion - don't need to buy 50 suits of padding and helmets).

    As well as that, it is an exciting spectator sport to watch, and I can only see it getting bigger, look at the leaps and bounds the Sevens circut has done in promoting the game, and with teams like Italy and Argentina finally looking like they are ready to take that next step which we have predicted was about to happen for god knows how many years, and the next tier getting stronger (Portugal making the World Cup), the game can only get more exposure and bigger.
  5. So do you reckon giving the world cup to New Zealand and not Japan was a good consolidation move or a bit conservative & short-sighted?
  6. shtove

    shtove Guest

    A basic disadvantage rugby has is that you have to be fit to play it. In soccer, even the fat wheezy boys with notes from matron can stand in goal. All of them, at the same time.

    TV money is the big conundrum for rugby. My gut feeling is that England's decision to go with Sky in the early '90s was not good - the RFU could have taken less money by going with the BBC when soccer had just been whipped away from the state broadcaster. The advantage would have been in having Auntie adopt the sport as its #1 and promote it non-stop to millions of people who'd never taken an interest.

    Graham Henry's mastery over when his ABs play is an obvious gripe for the super 14 producers. In the Celtic league Irish internationals regularly go AWOL, and without increasing club/provincial interest the league will remain a pimple on a boil on the arse of rugby. And then there's the big one - the HEC. Let's see what happens in July.

    Probably the best prospect for rugby is to keep the emphasis on the international scene. There are so many wealthy nations out there that could field teams with a serious chance of contending at the highest level. International soccer has tapped itself out, but there are plenty more rugby barrells lying about Europe, covered in dust.

    I'd love to see Germany v Russia in the RWC final one day, playing a sport that just stops short of warfare. And who will they both beat in the semis? Poland, of course.
  7. Rugby_Cymru

    Rugby_Cymru Guest

    You're having a laugh, aren't you?
    I've played against many a 40 year old man who was borderline heart attack, when i was youger in the lower leagues.

    There are plenty of these slobs to be found in rugby as well...only not as many in the backs as the forwards.
  8. shtove

    shtove Guest

    Ah well, in that case I could play you off the pitch.

    Have you ever puked up after soccer training?
  9. Rugby_Cymru

    Rugby_Cymru Guest

    No, i don't play soccer.

    Ahh to be young, skip around the oldies as if they weren't there.
    It's almost unfair really.
  10. Prestwick

    Prestwick Guest

    I've puked up after a hard jog.

    Dad found it funny because he was riding a bike at the time.
  11. Rugby_Cymru

    Rugby_Cymru Guest


    Then i'm certainly glad i'm not playing against you.
  12. The way I understand it, the beginning of the professional era of rugby brought a very sudden influx of cash into the game which people went crazy spending. As such, you had clubs with three or four teams ( I believe, I'm going on stories I've heard here) where the players were basically paid full-time. People then started to realize that this was getting expensive and the whole thing crashed. So in the beginning we had the problem of too much money, but now we have too many games. I'm absolutely certain that the future of the sport is going to lie in making high-profile professional competitions like the Heineken Cup flourish while discarding useless tournaments like the EDF energy Cup and also reducing the number of international tests played as well as reducing the length of the season in many cases.
  13. ospreys1987

    ospreys1987 Guest

    I wouldnt say that the EDF Cup has been discarded since the finalists were the finalists of the Heineken Cup and Guiness Premiership Playoffs Leicester and the Magners League champions the Ospreys
  14. Melhor Time

    Melhor Time Guest

    Has rugby peaked?

    Absolutely not. This is just the begining.

    In Brazil, rugby is booming thanks to the growing status of the World Cup, professionalism in Europe and the international status of familar countries, namely Italy and Argentina. I write for a Brazilian website which is read by plenty of people. This would not have been possible 10 years ago.

    I bought an official Italian rugby top a few months ago. The place i got it only sold Italian merchandise. There was no All Black material, no English material or no material from anywhere else. Now that Portugal have made the World Cup we are talking about a further boost for the status of the sport.

    Just imagine what could eventuate if the IRB do the right things instead of continue to mess things, like World Cup hosts, up. I can imagine bigger and better things with a World Cup in Japan. I cannot say the same about a World Cup in New Zealand.

    So, some may feel rugby isn´t getting in bigger in their own countries.... Well it definetly isn´t in Ireland, Argentina, France or Italy. Nor is it in Russia, Japan, USA, Uruguay or Portugal In Scotland it certainly is and it probably is in Tonga too. But the central question is what is happening on the global scale? In my opinion the sport is booming and showing no signs of stagnating despite potential negatives in Scotland, England and some other traditional powers.
  15. ospreys1987

    ospreys1987 Guest

    I totally agree, you have got a very strong point and put it across very well. The only problem I can see with the professional aspect of rugby union is that certain countries exploit the fact they make money from it. A prime example would be the English whining like lil girls about share fees with regards to the Heineken Cup, if anything is gonna bring a downfall to professional rugby union it will be countries greed, atleast so far to my recognition its just England
  16. Hold on. That is quite frankly a load of ********.

    Nice to see people conveniently forgetting it was in fact the French clubs who were the first to threaten a boycott. Obviously more difficult to bash the English from this angle, but that doesn't make it any less true.

    Secondly, as has already been discussed elsewhere, the Heineken Cup contract ended this year. Clubs were basically making drastic opening statements in order to broker as best a deal as possible. The competition looks very likely to be renewed.

    Thirdly, English and French clubs have actually campaigned for clubs from the 'smaller' rugby nations involved like Italy to receive a bigger cut of the Heineken Cup revenue. Hardly the words of greedy nations only in it for themselves. They haven't acted like Saints over the whole affair, but aren't the evil money-grubbing ******** you envisage.

    How about reading around a bit before coming out with one-eyed rubbish like that?

    Great point Melhor, nice to see the game beginning to blossom in some unexpected places.
  17. ospreys1987

    ospreys1987 Guest

    Yeah but the French weren't threatening a boycott due to money though, it was to do with the either the amount of games they have to play or the placement of the cup in their season (I cant remember which). Fair play I didn't know about them trying to get the 'smaller' nations clubs more income but this still doesn't change the fact that the English were threatening a boycott due to them wanting more money from Premier Rugby (I think thats the company)
  18. Prestwick

    Prestwick Guest

    Yes they wanted to boycott over the number of games and over the fact that the English clubs are the only teams in the HEC not to have any representation on the board which presides over the two major European competition.

    It remains a fact that actually, it was the French who started this whole mess, the English clubs wern't going to do a boycott all on their own, and any comments to the contary are just utter rubbish.

    Now, you may call that "whinging" good sir, but I would call the storm in a teacup over Celtic Warriors or the wailing over the spilt milk that was the bad refereeing in the last five seconds of Wales vs Italy "whinging" as well.

    Examine the facts, make an objective and balanced statement, then we can do business. Until then I will do a Charles de Gaulle and say "non" to your awfully pants anaylsis of the situation. Good day sir!
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