Rugby

Slatts’ shout: Wallabies, they go bye-bye!

Slatts’ shout: Wallabies, they go bye-bye!

A kiwi, still not behind the last foot

Wallabies, they go bye-bye!

First up, congrats to the Kiwis.

You guys thoroughly deserved the victory against the Wallabies. If it can’t be us, then, of course, we’re lookin’ faaaaa a southern hemi team to do the lap. Getting’ beaten by a better team, was, in the end of the day, what happened. There was not one stage of the game where you thought, oh crikey, we’re in this; we’re dominating. Didn’t happen, at all. Better team won, people!

I won’t be wearin’ black but I’ll be screamin’ faaaaa ya!

Use the ‘uckin’ video ref for high tackles, fa ‘uck sake!

Why not call for the video ref on those supposed high tackles?

They happen so fast and look far worse than they actual are on most occasions, plus the enormity of the outcome demands that we do.

‘uck me swinging! One of the most important test matches for the code, essentially ‘ucked on a stuuuuuuupid refs call-not a stuuuuuuuuuuuupid ref, but a stuuuuuuuuuupid call.

Can rugby ever be a mainstream sport in Australia? Rugby lacks consistency.

Us Aussies are different on soooooooooooo many levels.

Vegemite, for starters. Spankin’ turps at the local surfie, another (if you’re a QLDer, that is. Suck it NSWelshpersons!!). Uluru, MT Coolum and the big Prawn; a coupla more differences. And of course, we have the most competitive contact-sport entertainment market on the planet.

There’s an Aussie sensibility that contact sport-entertainment products must address, or simply wither and die. A formula: make it simple and demand free-flowing, brutal entertainment through rules and point scoring structure, which dictates positive attitude and approaches to winning the footy game.

Rugby, AFL and three-pass-cross-kick-for-a-try (TPCKFAT) are all in there tryin’ fa market (or mind) share of the twenty-or-so million of us. As a (televisual) entertainment product, AFL is the king of the mountain (the Uluru) across the world’s largest island, with TPCKFAT next, and rugby (let’s be honest) a distant third. And there is a reason for that.

The major issue I have with rugby is that it lacks product quality consistency. What I mean by that is, on any given day, you can’t guarantee a quality product (dare I say, soccer suffers the same problem??). If you could guarantee seeing the, say, Japan v France game every time (or least 98%) of the time, then our code would be number one, make no mistake.

But it works every, say, fourth game I reckon. Imagine taking a product or service to market that only worked every one out of every four times? Yeah, you wouldn’t get too far would ya.

Rugby is not on free-to-air tv (except for this year’s RWC), and there’s good reason for that. It either needs a critical mass of people with a direct interest and/or stake in the game (which it doesn’t) or it needs to be an exciting product with consistent quality (which it hasn’t).

More often than not (and quite counter-intuitively and nonsensically, the higher up the tiers, and the more important the game) you’ll get a stop-start, shot-at-goal-scrum-reset-field goal-fest. How many shots at goal and field goals were there in last weekend’s semis? Faaaaaaaaaaaar tooooooooooooo many.   When the code has the most media attention directed at it, the more likely it’ll dish up an ordinary game.

Rugby’s formula is not suited to gaining (depth and breadth of) traction throughout this country. As I’ve said many, many times, rugby is not ready for free-to-air. If rugby was on free-to-air it’d do the code irreparable damage. Until the game itself is its best promotional tool, the least amount of people that see it from outside its stakeholders (those that have an emotional attachment to it) the better.

Imagine you’re a broadcast exec, and rugby comes-a-knockin’. You’d be goin’ ‘well, yeah, rugby has some reach and a lucrative demographic (of high income earners), but the product only works every third or fourth time. How can I convince advertisers that rugby is a ‘sticky’ eyeball magnet’?

Surely Shirley, we must value a try three times better than a field goal and a penalty goal? Surely.

What AFL and TPCKFAT have going for them is their simplicity and fluency; guaranteeing consistent quality in product. The game itself is their best possible promotional tool. This consistent quality guarantees lottsa, lottsa people will tune in to free-to-air and pay-tv; and will come back. I can only imagine the amount of people shed watching Saturday’s semi between France and Wales-at that’s simply not sustainable.

Now, of course AFL and TPCKFAT took some time to be the entertainment product that they are today. And with rugby only eighteen years old as a professional entertainment product, it has come a long, long way in that short time, but it will take another fifty years for it to take a greater slice of Aussie mindshare.

The Aussie market is a reference point for top-quality contact sport-entertainment products. If you make it in Aussie, you’ve got yourself a pretty damn good product. When rugby is mainstreaming in Australia, you’ll know the code has made enormous strides forward. Sadly, I don’t think it’ll be in my lifetime-and it’s only half over!

Rugby
@pjslatts

Former World Cup winning Wallaby and QLD Reds' Captain, ‘Slatts’, has been very busy (mostly hangin’ out in Far-Northern-Japan, singin’ Karaoke and drinkin’ Nihonshyu) since his retirement from the game in the late 1990’s. Always keen for a yarn, and an opinion or two, Slatts is rugby commentary’s best keep secret. Dashingly HANDSOME and very intelligent-he’s one for the ladies!

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