Friday’s Rugby News looks at crowd numbers, contract negotiations, the U20 World Championships and the Nations Championship.
No Magic Bullet?
In GeeRob’s and Blocka Dutton’s article in the SMH this week Raelene Castle, when asked about crowd numbers, is quoted as saying:
“Obviously it’s a concern. It’s a concern for sport across Australia really. There’s a lot of codes, particularly in the Sydney market, are finding that it’s quite challenging,” she said. “There’s no magic bullet, it’s about a lot of hard work.
“The conference formula is probably not ideal, it creates confusion and that’s why we’re going to a straight round-robin in the new broadcast deal.
“It’s a combination of working closely with the clubs, making sure we’re communicating well the upsides with fans, and working with our broadcasters in Fox [Sports] to make sure they’re doing all they can to help us, which they’re really open to.”
But, in my opinion, there is a magic bullet. Winning more will bring crowds back. It’s really that simple. But enough editorializing back to the article.
Crowd numbers are down 1 per cent and the Brumbies, who’s crowds have always been lower, averaged just 8509 punters for each game. This weekends quarter-final against the Sharks should be a financial boon for them but they need to pay them 75k and that many fans turning up would put a big dent in any profits for them.
“The low crowds aren’t sustainable from a business side of things. The people of Canberra need to show their support for the Brumbies and their appreciation for how they’ve performed,” Brumbies boss Phil Thomson said.
Taniela Tupou Gets A Big Offer
Reds fans have had a lot of great players leave over the years, Sharpe, Barnes, Higger, Cooper, Genia, Higgers again. But none of them hurt as much as Samu Kerevi’s departure did. But hot on the heels of that sad news is news of a big long term offer to Taniela Tupou from Rugby Australia.
If the deal gets done Taniela would be one of the top five highest paid players in the country.
It’s great to see the value of tight forwards and especially front rowers appreciated in the deals they’re being offered. With fellow props, Alan Alaalatoa also locked in through 2023 and Brumbies loosehead Scott Sio signed until the end of 2022 things are looking pretty bright at the coal face.
Tupou’s negotiations come on the back of a host of exits from Australia’s top players. Long term Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley is off, His long term competitor for the 10 jersey looks to be heading overseas as well. Rumour has it he’ll be joining Will Genia in Japan.
The trio join other overseas– or retirement-bound Wallabies Nick Phipps (London Irish), Sekope Kepu (London Irish), Christian Lealiifano, Adam Coleman (London Irish), Rory Arnold, Curtis Rona (London Irish), Samu Kerevi (Suntory), David Pocock and, most likely, Adam Ashley-Cooper.
On the plus side former Brumbies and Test halfback Nic White is returning home, Matt Toomua joined the Rebels last month, while Tevita Kuridrani re-signed for 2020 last week.
Lonergan Free To Play
The Junior Wallabies will head into the U20 world championship final at full strength after hooker Lachlan Lonergan was exonerated at the judiciary.
Lonergan was cited following Australia’s semi-final win over Argentina for striking no.8 Juan Bautista Pedemonte with the shoulder
While no action was taken on the field during the game, citing commissioner Rafael Bianchi found reason to call Lonergan before the World Rugby Disciplinary Committee for a shoulder charge.
The 19-year-old’s availability is a massive boost for the Junior Wallabies, who face a heavyweight French pack desperate to defend the U20 title they won last year.
Coach Jason Gilmore highlighted his efforts after the match against Ireland and again following the semi-final against Argentina.
“I think Lachlan Lonergan is a very underrated player in our football team,” Gilmore said.
“He’s got a very good set piece, he’s been very mobile and just the work rate around the contact with his tackling and his breakdown work is really good.
“He hasn’t had many pats on the back but he’s a player that is really crucial to us.”
News this morning that the proposed Nations Championship is dead in the water. Word is that many countries didn’t like the idea that they could get kicked out of the comp for being crap. I guess they realised it would be pretty hard to get anyone decent to play against when all the top teams are tied up with the Nations Championship. Pretty much like any of the countries who weren’t invited to participate.
“While we are naturally disappointed that a unanimous position on the Nations Championship could not be achieved among our unions, we remain fully committed to exploring alternative ways to enhance the meaning, value and opportunity of international rugby for the betterment of all unions,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.
“This includes our continued commitment to competition and investment opportunities for emerging nations to increase the competitiveness of the international game with a view to possible Rugby World Cup expansion in 2027.”
SANZAAR is disappointment that the World Rugby Nations Championship (WRNC) concept that was set to redefine international rugby has been taken off the table.
The SANZAAR member Unions despite having some concerns over elements of what was presented, most notably promotion/relegation, had all signed the Offer Letters to enter into the next phase of due diligence with the aim of working through the concerns with all interested parties.
SANZAAR Chairman Brent Impey stated, “The Nations Championship was a golden opportunity to grow the game internationally but is seemingly lost. SANZAAR remains convinced that such a revamped international calendar is the right course of action supported by professional cross-border competitions such as Super Rugby and the various European premierships.”