On ABC’s Grandstand last night the A’RU CEO Bill Pulver revealed in broad brush-strokes what he felt should be the new third tier competition for Australian Rugby. [SEE VIDEO INSET]
He called it a ‘Super-B’ competition of hour-long matches that would act as a curtain raisers for Australian Super derbies. Specifically, he described it as:
A rugby incubator that allows us to not only show the young potential of the Australia rugby community but also to trial a few little rule changes that will be focused on providing creative running rugby.
In essence therefore it will be a competition between reinstated Super franchise academies — a move designed to put Super noses back in joint after the debacle of the now decaying National Academy programme.
Those of us with dreams of an enhanced club, university or ARC-like competition can therefore kiss those dreams goodbye — although G&GR understands that as part of the Pulver plan approved by the ARU board last week, there will be a national club championship to be played at the end of the club season. That’s clearly an effort to buy the club vote.
The meaningfulness of this Super B proposal as a Third Tier will depend on the investment in presentation. A reserve grade hour’s run-around with crazy law variations between no-names as a old fashioned curtain-raiser will get the attention it deserves — i.e. none. A well-publicised competition with its own identity and television coverage — especially free-to-air — will be a different kettle of fish.
A ringing endorsement for Robbie
Pulver appeared amiable and unflappable in the Grandstand interview, but all sense of logic once again disappeared when the issue of Robbie Deans’s performance was raised.
The ARU CEO’s new slogan is clearly that ‘smart, creative, running rugby’ is what’s good for the game and what we’re all about. I think most G&GR readers with that. However, when asked to square that with the Wallabies’ one-try-per-match record in 2012, he diverted to blaming Australia’s Super Rugby stocks.
I think third, which is where we are in the world rankings, is probably where we deserve to be. I think an honest assessment is the fact that New Zealand has set the benchmark.
Robbie — my sense is that he’s done a good job…. Ranked third — it’s not where we want to be, but it’s probably where we deserve to be.
Er, Bill… after five years in charge, third is where Robbie Deans has taken us. If that’s not where we want to be, then clearly Robbie is not the man to be taking us wherever we do want to go.
Time to cut the mumbo-jumbo.
Finally, did you give less of a toss about Super Rugby last year? Turns out you weren’t alone. Wilko revealed that in Australia in 2012:
- Super Rugby’s ratings dropped 11.2%
- NRL was flat
- AFL grew 8%
- The A-League grew a whopping 22%
Ouch. Looks like the Pulveriser will have his work cut out for him finding a sponsor for Australian Super Rugby.