Is Rugby doomed to be a second tier sport in Oz

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by Jethro, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. Jethro

    Jethro Guest

    There seems to be some strange belief in New Zealand and Europe that Australia is ripe for the expansion of the game. Currently Rugby is the fourth football code in this country with AFL miles ahead of the other codes, wendy ball doing all the right things to overtake League (only strong in NSW and QLD), and Rugby coming in last. This based on Nielson polling of crowds and player numbers, do a google it's not pleasant reading.

    Domestic rugby in Australia is at the club level with the ABC covering the premier competition dependant on state. Super 14 is restricted to pay television provider Fox with no free to air coverage. Internationals are on channel 7 and Fox but only really make an impact with tests involving either New Zealand or the Lions according to televison rating data. Actually anyone who tuned into the tests pre T3 could be excused for thinking they were mid week games, that's how poor attendance was.

    The ARU at least tried to do something with the national ARC but once again didn't listen to the grass roots with regions that have zero involvement in the "major", term used loosely, domestic competitions not being awarded franchises. As it turned out just as well as John O'Neil canned the whole thing on the grounds that it didn't generate rivers of gold in year one, could also be because he had zero involvement in setting it up.

    Which brings us to of course to the fifth S15 franchise O'Neil is insanely believing will be successful down in AFL stronghold Melbourne. Four other bids got the arse from the ARU, which was once again seen as doing nothing for the stronger rugby regions, the Central Coast didn't bother this time round and is pushing hard for an NRL franchise instead note the fall off in player numbers for rugby on the coast. The Melbourne Storm are flying the NRL flag down in Melbourne to a reported, News Ltd, lose of over $2 million per year, how exactly does O'Neil believe rugby will fare any better? Don't get me started on the lack of quality players, the weakening of the competition, or the looming iceberg of the conference system.

    Currently a number of Australia Franchises are enjoying ex-pat kiwis and saffas turning up to see their home teams play, put a conference system in place that takes out the foreign teams for the major part of the competition and I can predict with confidence a huge fall off in crowd numbers with the Force in particular in big trouble. Sorry I have no interest in watching the Flowers play either the Brumbies or any other Aussie franchise.

    WHere is O'Neil and the ARU's plan to revitalise the game in this country? With falling player numbers, television figures at an all time low, how long before major sponsors start looking at other sports not hampered by pay television deals. How exactly is the new Melbourne franchise going to get sponsorship with the cream of the AFL clubs already entranced and pointing to big crowd numbers? For the regions and districts where is our slice of the pie in terms of major domestic sporting events, and how long before support simply disappears as the ARU continues to pander to the big cities.

    The warning signs should be flashing for the ARU with both the NRL and AFL looking to expand in the coming year or so with new franchises in the regions. The NRL are fielding some serious proposals from the Central Coast, stadium already built with the Mariners flourishing there, the Gold Coast, and another Brisbane based team. Not up on the AFL proposals at the moment, looks like they have finally worked out a Western Sydney AFL franchise simply isn't going to work, would be as insane as putting a rugby franchise down in Melbourne (looking at you NRL), but believe a couple of Queensland regional consortiums have proposals on the table.

    While the NRL and the AFL pour money into the grass roots teams and support the regions, the ARU appear to be re-arranging the deckchairs once again. And what's that looming over the horizon, an expanded "A" league did I hear someone say, yes wendy ball has picked itself up off the carpet and is the new growth sport in this country with a 12 team league now on the table.

    Without free to air coverage the once successful NBL has simply imploded in recent years, RIP The Sydney Kings (three times champions), is rugby headed in the same direction?
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  3. gingergenius

    gingergenius Guest

    I have a lot of respect for australians, largely because of sport. So why are you throwing that back in my face by getting into football? For a country that is used to being among the best in the world at everything, why chose a sport like football where there are about 15 teams who are very very good?

    Can't Australians take a leaf from the Americans' book and tell the Football World: yeah we'll have you, so long as we can call you gay and only allow girls to play.

    How could anyone be so stupid to let football become bigger than well established (and bloody good) codes like union, rl and aussie rules??!! At least we have the excuse that football was around first...

    On a serious note, in the UK, football, rugby union and league exist alongside each other fairly well - they play union in south wales, the south west and private schools; league in the north and football everywhere. But if you look at Union in Australia, you have an example in Britain of how a sport can remain a concrete national institution in spite of poor media coverage, drab funding and so on - Rugby League. I can't speak for other newspapers but I read the Guardian, a paper of Northern origins, and get maybe one article on a Saturday covering Super League, as opposed to most of the paper on football and 1 or 2 pages on union. Many people I talk to (in the South) know nothing about it, and dismiss it as an inferior Northern alternative to Union. The romantic days of Offiah, Edwards and Davies are long gone. Yet it still remains strong, and has successfully expanded into Perpignan, has a strong franchise in London and has still to work on its franchise in Bridgend. Super League is a highly competitive league and this season has 6 very accomplished sides, not including Wigan and Bradford who are traditional powerhouses as well.

    The fact that Australia manage to be quite as good at Union as they are given its relative popularity is amazing. But it will always be a key sport, just like League is for us. I agree with what you say about sticking to the grass root Union areas because that is exactly what League has done here and I don't think the Super 14 as a competition has a long term future (without alteration of the format). But it wouln't be so bad in the future if there was a national Aussie league consisting of teams from towns across NSW and Canberra and any other Union heartland. At least then, expansion could take place from a position of strength rather than a postion of weakness (which is happening atm).
  4. feicarsinn

    feicarsinn Guest

    As stupid as it sounds, you don't need a large player base to become genuinely competitive in RU. Sure look over here it's the 4th sport and it's stronger than ever. As long as the pool of players available is coached and nurtured correctly there should be no problem fielding top class teams. Add to this Australia rich history in Union, which breeds expectation and spurs players on, they should be fielding competitive teams well into the future.
  5. Jethro

    Jethro Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (feicarsinn @ Aug 28 2009, 09:56 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    The problem is that the grass roots is drying up outside the major teams in the premier club competition. A number of factors involved, economic, lack of options for players wanting to move up the food chain (that insane grabbing of League players didn't help), and zero public coverage on free to air outlets. It's a dog eat dog world when it comes to advertising over here with four major football codes after a limited pool of cash. If I have money to spend on a sporting team I'm certainly going to want exposure, something rugby no longer has for the average punter.

    In a nutshell the sport is seen as being elitist and with no weekly free to air coverage isn't reaching markets outside it's contracting power bases. For the record League is also in trouble in Sydney, with way too many city based teams while the regions are screaming out for opportunities.

    I'm basing my analysis around talking to people and the situation here on the coast where rugby is in rapid decline due to the ARU seemingly snubbing the locals. We have a pretty big stadium in Gosford, home of the "A" league Mariners who get great support, and the push is on for the Central Coast Bears. We didn't even bother with a proposal for the fifth Aussie franchise in the expanded S14 because the advertising etc had disappeared.

    How many ways can you try to explain things to the ARU? They need to promote into the heartland regions outside Sydney and Brisbane or those regions will start moving to the other football codes.

    Should actually post up in the wendy ball forum about the "A" league which is already heating up nicely this year.
  6. Woldog

    Woldog Guest

    The grass roots isn't dying out though, the Greater Public Schools system is doing it's usual job and creating the Wallabies of tomorrow, I played Rugby all through my schooling, you either played Rugby or Soccer and every other sport was second tier, what do you think the whole school turned out to watch on a Saturday morning? The First XV play Rugby or the First XI play Soccer? Rugby of course, no one in a GPS school gives a damn about soccer unless they play it, it wouldn't matter if all the clubs in Australia suddenly died leaving only Super 14 teams, because they could do what they do now and recruit them straight out of a GPS or strong rugby school, Just because you did a google search doesn't make you an expert on Rugby union in Australia at grassroots or any level.
  7. smartcooky

    smartcooky Guest

    You may have another problem too with your free-to-air coverage. I heard a rumour some time ago (perhaps some Aussie members can confirm or deny) that some of the bigger AFL clubs have large stakes in some of the broadcasters, and they use their influence to buy up Rugby broadcast rights, then they don't show the rugby at all, so that it gets no coverage, and since they have the rights, no-one else can show it either. Any truth to that?

    The other thing to consider is the quality if the product. Rugby Union is not at all entertaining to watch at the moment, with all the interminable aimless kicking, and the breakdown area being such a shamozzle, and Rules that require and advanced Law degree to understand.

    In the meantime, League has spent the last several years driving their game towards an emphasis on entertainment. You didn't need to be a League fan to recognise that the Wests-Tigers v Eels match last weekend was an OUTSTANDING game of of rugby... never mind the code.
  8. Woldog

    Woldog Guest

    No rugby union other than the Wallabies and the RWC is shown on free to air in Australia (Well in Queensland anyway.....)

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
    You just had to be a league fan to watch it :p
  9. Nickdnz

    Nickdnz Guest

    I do have to admit, as a Union fan, I do have a certain amount of loyalty to Rugby Union, that I tend to dismiss League, however League is making all the right moves over the last few years. As smartcooky pointed out, League has been made a spectators sport, where as Rugby Union has become too complicated that watchintg it can get very boring. It wouldn't be hard to change Union back to the exciting sport it was 10-15 years ago, but everytime the rules change we seem to get further away from being an exciting sport.
  10. Woldog

    Woldog Guest

    The only reason League is where it's at today is because League went professional about 20 years before Union did, so alot of players crossed over to League so they could get paid for it.
  11. William18

    William18 Guest

    Yes, I think rugby is doomed. I was in Australia during the 2007 World Cup and it was getting absolutely no coverage. Coming from NZ, I was shocked. You can say that the sport gets **** coverage but if it was popular enough someone would pick up the rights. To most Australians rugby just doesn't feature on their program. All the other major sports have a niche area. AFL has queensland, league has the east coast and soccer seems to be mainly ethnic minorities. Rugby is just the sport which a few of the rest support. S14 games even get out rated by U20 league games, that's how unpopluar the sport is.

    I'm sure the Wallabies will always be good at rugby, safely in the top 5 countries in the world. That wouldn't be enough for me. I wouldn't want the All Blacks to win every game they played if that meant that hardly anyone played the game or talked about it. I just don't see what can be done to make rugby more popular, it doesn't really have the places to go to in Australia. All the other sports have ways of spreading the game. I don't see how the Melbourne rugby team is going to be at all successful. League has got in their first and established a massive base for itself.

    I would disagree with Jethro about the A-League. I don't see a great future for it. Both new clubs this year have been getting terrible crowds, well less then 10,000. I can never see the A-League getting up to the level of the NRL or the AFL.
  12. QLD

    QLD Guest


    AFL has 3 states, they generate enough money their to pour in cash into QLD and NSW hoping everyone supports it. Problem is now they have overdone it and think Gold Coast and West Sydney will work. Sydney Swans are so bad they got 58k for their game last week in Sydney, a population of 4million. No one cares about the game up here but since AFL demands all the tv stations to give AFL more coverage than other sports.

    A-league is a joke, all three QLD teams got 6-7k for their last crowds and its hardly any better anywhere else.

    League vs union debate ****** me off it aint going to solve anything.
  13. QLD

    QLD Guest

    Anyway I love watching the GPS 1st XV teams play or watching premier grade, trust me those competitions are not going to die.
  14. Jethro

    Jethro Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Dale @ Aug 28 2009, 03:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Dale Sydney crowds are confirmed fair weather supporters, a crowd of 58k would be excellent considering the 2009 season. Uhmm the Tahs would love to get that to just one game btw. There's way too many other options in Sydney if a team isn't performing. Try sell outs when the Swans are title contenders.

    Western Sydney is just crazy thinking for AFL, no idea on Gold Coast support for the code.

    AFL dominates in Victoria, South Australia (2 teams), and Western Australia (2 teams). Queensland and NSW tend more to league, but given a big AFL clash down in Melbourne they can draw a bigger crowd then the entire round of NRL.

    Soccer is on the rise in Australia and it is no longer simply an ethnic thing. Plans are to expand the A League to 12 teams, though Soccer Australia are taking that option slow, we all saw what happened to the NRL when it expanded way too rapidly. Dale the Mariners are regularly getting large crowds for their home games at blue tongue.

    As opposed to what some may claim here, the sport is not going to thrive if it's seen as elitist. As stated, with the new S14 conference system, besides the Tahs versus the Reds (no prisoners, blood in the water time always a bloody good game) I predict crowds will be well down with the ex pat contingent happy to go watch the NRL or AFL or A League. It could well spell doom for the Force who are already shaky financially.

    John O'Neil is doing jack for the future of the game and doesn't give a toss about the regions and subbies competition. In the wash-up that's going to mortally wound the sport in this country.

    smartcooky it would indeed appear to be the case of AFL involvement down south. Try catching a test match, including a Bledisloe clash, on television in Melbourne live. There seems to be a concerted effort to avoid broadcasting rugby in that city.
  15. William18

    William18 Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Dale @ Aug 28 2009, 05:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Yeah, I meant Vic. AFL going to Gold Coast is the biggest joke, they play exhibition games there and get crowds of about 12,000. Western Sydney seems a bit kick and hope to me. League is actually the only sport I can see becoming nation wide. If the Storm really took off and a team was put in Perth the game would make big leaps. It would still be behind AFL overall but would have a more well rounded following.
  16. Wally

    Wally Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Dale @ Aug 28 2009, 06:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    I'm pretty sure the Waratahs have never got a crowd close to that in their existence.

    Rugby has always been the 3rd (now possibly the 4th) most popular football code in Australia, and it will be for a long time yet. We just have to put up with it and try and make some inroads by providing a better product.
  17. Wally

    Wally Guest

    Television ratings in Sydney (heart of the game):

    TELEVISION ratings have confirmed what many rugby fans already knew - that Super 14 and Test rugby have become the most boring forms of the game to watch in this country. Only 146,000 Sydneysiders tuned in to watch the Wallabies get hammered by the All Blacks last month, while Super 14 averaged less than 100,000 viewers this season after having peaked at 185,000 for the Waratahs-Crusaders final last year.

    Alarm bells should be ringing, with most Super 14 clashes out-rated by the NRL's under-20s Toyota Cup competition. But there was a glimmer of hope - in NSW at least.

    Sunday's Shute Shield final attracted only 7500 fans to the Sydney Football Stadium to see the star-studded Sydney University and Randwick sides go head to head, less than half the average attendance for grand finals in the early part of this decade - but ABC's television ratings exceeded 110,000.

    In fact, the highest rating club rugby match this season came in at just over 140,000 - 6000 short of the recent Test and less than 45,000 short of the 2008 Super 14 final.
  18. Juan VdS

    Juan VdS Guest

    Guys, I am awestruck. I did know Rugby in Australia was not getting as many followers as it deserves; but I would never have imagined the situation was that bad. Super 14 matches outrated by U20 games? Ouch.

    Rugger isn't as attractive as it used to be years ago, but that doesn't justify the progressive lack of interest some Aussies are showing for the game. Down here everybody watches Los Pumas' games, even if they don't know crap about the game itself. According to ESPN+, the Pumas vs French Barbarians summed up 2.316.000 spectators (17% of the total population).

    I just hope this won't affect Australia's players base... I hold your competitions in a very high regard and it would be a shame if people remained indifferent about them. :(

    Perhaps with the possible expansion of the Super 14 (and the addition of some Argies in the foreseeable future) people will get back to following the competitions with enthusiasm..?
  19. QLD

    QLD Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Wally @ Sep 16 2009, 08:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    I'm pretty sure the Waratahs have never got a crowd close to that in their existence.

    Rugby has always been the 3rd (now possibly the 4th) most popular football code in Australia, and it will be for a long time yet. We just have to put up with it and try and make some inroads by providing a better product.

    I meant 58k watching on tv which is f***ing appaling.
  20. QLD

    QLD Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (Juan VdS @ Oct 5 2009, 05:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Having an ANZAC cup between Australia and NZ would be a better option. Dump the franchises and revert back to the provinces. Then SA can have its own currie cup and have 1-2 Argentina teams in it.
  21. Juan VdS

    Juan VdS Guest

    Yeah, that sounds like a better idea. South Africa has always had a more solid competition due to the apartheid policy.
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