New Media Scores with Rugby

New Media Scores with Rugby

Kevin Rudd once said “Australians can spot a fake at 20 paces”. Unfortunately for him he was right as his Et tu, Brute moment attests. He’s certainly not alone there amongst the political class – there are fakes of all hues and persuasions.

Can I just say….that one thing Rudd was especially good at was harnessing ‘new media’, initially to sell his Kevin07 message and subsequently to feed the voracious 24-hour news cycle.

New media – the Internet, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, podcasting, live streaming, eplatforms etc to name a few – is a fantastic and popular communication and entertainment tool that’s here to stay.

As at June 2010 77% of the Australian population (over 14) had access to a home internet connection. Now that’s some market when you compare that to say, metropolitan newspaper distribution.

The commercial problem with new media is that in many cases it just isn’t really a saleable item in terms of news, sport and information, which is great for the consumer.

You can access every major rugby story that’s in the papers or on TV over the internet free of charge, although some news organisations have begun levying online content e.g The Times. I wonder how long that ‘free content’ situation will continue?

For rugby followers, it was previously the newspapers and television coverage that provided us with our fix (apart from actually attending the games).

Print and media journos ruled the roost. That’s changing now as the information age has democratised the process, especially with online content.

Sure, you’re still reading newspaper stories about rugby but you don’t actually have to buy the rag to obtain it, if that’s your want.

I think we’ve been relatively well-served by the print media in terms of rugby reporting. The fact is, we always wanted more but newspaper content was and still is commensurate with the size and popularity of our game.

In my view, the benchmark these days in terms of quality rugby journalism would have to be The Australian. I guess you’d expect that of a national broadsheet.

But it’s pretty sad when, amongst a plethora of Pay TV and Free-to-Air sports channels there’s only one rugby program of note where any sort of analysis takes place. Where is our rugby channel?

I said before that the process has been democratised. By that I mean you and I can now participate and provide feedback, it’s not just the realm of the journos.

Some of them probably don’t like that because it vaguely undermines their exalted position. Like Lionel Logue (King George VI’s Australian speech therapist – see The King’s Speech), some of the great unwashed don’t actually need a paper qualification to be able to string together a few sentences.

And doesn’t it make us feel good that we can have and express our view to like-minded rugby aficionados?

In 1776 Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations. In it, he talked about the supply and demand model. Well, this is what online rugby content is all about. There is a demand and its being met (although the model’s not entirely commercial).

It’s another platform to sell the message. Like many other sporting organisations, the rugby community has taken new media on board.

For instance, if you look at the Super Rugby websites these days they’re pretty spiffy and interactive. For them, there is some commercial gain in it trying to put ‘bums on seats’.

Although you could probably count on one hand the quality rugby sites that you can find in Australia, apart from those related to media or commercial entities.

If you’ll allow me to blow our own trumpet just a little bit, you don’t see too many websites like G&GR (a non-commercial fan site).

There’s a regulated discussion forum for adults, plenty of quality written content, regular video analysis and a dash of humour.

This ‘stuff’ is delivered by current and former coaches, referees, players, rugby people and some really bright dudes who have half a f*ckin’ clue.

But as well as an upside there’s also a downside to this new ‘democracy’. You’ve got to filter out the fakes and the shit.

“Never mind the quality, feel the width” is that old Cockney saying and it’s certainly relevant to what you find on the net.

Yep, our bullshit-o-meter can spot a Sportal Rugby Forum pretty quickly for what it is – a bunch of spotty, immature, vicious little one-eyed teenagers engaging in a bit of anonymous online sport.

There might be a place for that as the lowest common denominator, but Adam Smith’s ‘market forces’ will determine where the punter will go for quality online rugby content. It’s here, it’s now and it’s in your home.

When I was a kid, my rugby fix came over the wireless. Geez, haven’t times changed for the better?


Roscoe Tims (aka @LanceFree): A nasty, opinionated little man whose views are indeed narrow with a capital 'N'. Favourite Sport: mungo bashing. Does he ever have anything positive to say?

More in Rugby