Rugby – Cash-strapped Around the Globe!
The Coronavirus has been and will be the cause of many small and some, large businesses going under. We alluded last week to those folk who have supported the CW cause and repeat the need to support those who support us wherever possible. Today, we move the lens to rugby. After Japan hosted the hugely successful from a financial and playing point of view, despite having to overcome the effects of Typhoon Hagibis, it is with interest that we note the fragile state of many Unions around the world. Just to mention a few examples; NZ top carded players – 10% cut; Wales, top contracted players – 25% cut; Australia – 65% cut; ARU lost $9.4 million; England’s top carded players 25,000 pounds cut; RFU, projected loss $59 million by end of this “season”. These figures are unheralded and one wonders, was it not for the Coronavirus, how would these organisations continue to function? Akin to B.C.’s Steve Nash Gyms, was this the perfect storm to disclose the fragile financial state of the game?
We quote from the N.Z. Herald, with parenthesis by Ed.; “The interesting thing is that this crisis might prove to be good for the game in the long run. I thought London Irish owner Mick Crossan was spot on when he said the pandemic might be the "the kick up the backside" the professional game needs. Certainly that is the way the game has to look at it. As much as there is going to be short-term pain, this hiatus has at least provided a chance to hit the reset button (off the field at least - on the field, the game has never looked so good).
When you think about it, it is easy to see how we have reached this point. After the initial "land grab" when the game went professional in the mid-1990s, everything has just been bolted on; a competition here, a TV deal there. Every union, every league, every tournament developed down its own path, with the result that everyone is out to protect their own interests.
There have been various attempts to come up with a more joined-up way of doing things. I remember sitting down in Guildford 10 or so years ago for a conference run by the IRB (World Rugby as it now is). Unions and players from around the world were represented. Richie McCaw was there. But the pro game was only 12 years old and there wasn't the same incentive to fix it. In the end, the French did not want to change their season. More recently World Rugby floated the idea of a world league, but again it hit the buffers due to self-interest.
This time, I think it really is in everyone's interests to thrash out what a healthy global game looks like. Administrators have to think of the greater good…..”
Club rugby has enjoyed a resurgence in Australia while the four Super Rugby teams have struggled to find an audience. Came across this quote; "But in terms of what that next tier looks like, whether it's Super Rugby or a domestic competition, we need to make sure it suits Australian rugby and that's really important. It needs to suit us from a high-performance point-of-view, it needs to suit us from a viewer and engagement standpoint. Get people back to speaking positively about the game, enjoying the tribalism that has been around the game. And that's why people are gravitating back to their clubs because that's where they are finding the tribalism." This is contrary to positions espoused by this writer in the past however just maybe it's time to re-think this point of view, given the potential devastation, post-Covid?
Has professionalism run amok? A recent “read” from Winter of Discontent, Terry McLean, a story of the British Lions calamitous 1977 pilgrimage to N.Z. produced the following; “There is an enveloping trend which could become, I fancy, irresistible for players of international rank to demand some kind of whack, or equitable share, of these huge profits. As and when this occurs, the amateurism of rugby, its great and lasting appeal, will disappear; and the shoddiness which is inherent in much of professional sport will have painful and permanent effects”. It could be argued that, and so it came to pass. Then came Covid-19. The massive economical upheaval and scars it will cause will leave rugby as it has not been for many a moon.
We can only speculate about the effects on rugby. This writer viewed a most interesting sports movie recently on HBO; “The Scheme”. It is about the shamateurism of NCAA College basketball and begs the bigger question, has money corrupted sport? One of the outcomes for me is that I will certainly watch March Madness in future years in a completely different light, not that I was naïve about it before! All good stuff to pontificate upon.
Great for CW to re-connect with former player and coach, over the sad loss of Jason Chikites. Greg Bayley was responsible for the recent Vale tribute to ‘Chikes’. Great to have you back in the fold, Bayls!
UVic has withdrawn its recent publicized advert for new Vikes Rugby Coach. The position was a “plum offering” – one of the best rugby jobs in the land with a salary commensurate on experience, qualifications and results; starting between $65,500 and $74,000 with increases up to $85,500 based on performance outcomes. Doug Tate will take the helm until such time as things stabilize, post-Covid.