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Thread: Was I All That Wrong?

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    Veteran Contributor fulvio sammut's Avatar
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    Was I All That Wrong?

    Back in 1997, When Super14 was first raised as a serious possibility in WA, I wrote a short article for the Palmyra in house newsletter about what could be expected in the eventuality.

    I republished the article in the same publication in 2005, the year before Super 14 was about to kick off here.

    I got a lot of things wrong, some right, but I believe what is occurring today thoroughly justifies my scepticism all those years ago.

    Here is a copy of that article as it was republished in 2005.

    *****


    "SUPER 14’S

    Appearing below is the text of an article first published in June 1997 in the then monthly Newsletter of the Palmyra Rugby Club, the “Paly Press”. It is reproduced without editing, except to correct minor errors which appeared in the original publication.

    One doesn’t have to agree with the sentiments or views expressed in the article, and probably most readers won’t, but it does bear thinking about.

    How true was it back in 1997, how true is it now, and more importantly, how true will it be in 2006 when Super 14’s kicks off in Western Australia.

    Let us hope the writer was a pessimist, not a prophet!


    Super 14’s in WA – Another Viewpoint

    The WARU is pushing for the inclusion of a team from WA in Murdoch’s “Rugby Circus”. But can we afford it?

    Many die-hard Rugby supporters see this only as an expensive ego-trip for the megalomaniacs at Perry Lakes.

    What has the WARU to gain from it? They will tell you:-

    A. National and International exposure.

    But for whom? For the Administrators and officials? Certainly! For the two or three WA-born players who might meet the standards? Perhaps! For Associates Rugby Club? Possibly! For ARKS, Cottesloe, Kalamunda, Rockingham or others in the local competition? Not on your life!


    B. It will raise the standard of WA Rugby.

    Like the Western Reds (now Perth Reds) did for local Rugby League? Like the Eagles did for Aussie Rules?

    The fact of the matter is that since the advent of a national side, the local Rugby League competition is nothing but a sad shadow of its former self. The players and supporters have abandoned it in droves. The sponsors don’t want to know, and at least four clubs (Armadale, Rockingham, Applecross and Willagee) have dropped out of 1st Grade or out of the competition altogether. And much the same has happened to the WAFL (now Westar Rules) competition – total emasculation. The fact is, the glamour (and therefore the money) will follow TV exposure and the hype, and to hell with the development of the game. Already the bull-dust is being spread – promises of money for local and junior development, coaching directors, etc, etc, being bandied about. If Rugby development is so close to the corporate heart of Rugby Union, why did the ARU wait until now? Ask Armadale, Rockingham, Applecross and Willagee Rugby League Clubs. How much of the spoils came their way from the ARL and Uncle Rupert?

    Sadly, a local national side will seek to skim the limited cream from the local competition (all three players!) and make up a side from well-paid, over-rated, soon-to-be pensioned-off New South Welshmen, Queenslanders, Kiwis and South Africans. And when their faded lights burn out, they will be replaced by other imports of the same ilk. It will be cheaper to buy players than to develop them. And who will be around to do the developing anyway?

    C. It will bring money into WA Rugby.

    See B. above. Sure there will be some money. Money for the top imports. Money for the administrative Taj Mahal. Money for the parasites who will worm their way into the administration. Money for Murdoch! But money for the local Clubs? Money for the semi-amateurs who play local club rugby? Money for junior development? Never!

    If anything, money will be drained away from local Rugby; in the way of sponsors; in the way of spectator support; in the way of the financial demands of reasonably competent (by local standards) players upon their clubs; in the way of the insatiable demands for more and more money from clubs by an administration which will become increasingly profit orientated at everyone else’s expense.


    D. It will increase local interest in Rugby.

    Really? Maybe! Maybe an entire 20 or 30 thousand locals will show a flicker of interest. Some will even attend the first few games. But the broad support will come from the enthusiasts who once (or now) played the game in all grades at the local club level. They are the financial life-blood of those clubs; and, as many of these people, for their own reasons, turn to the glamour of TV-coverage, the local clubs will die the death of 1,000 cuts. A team in an international competition will turn local rugby from what is essentially a participator sport into a spectator sport.


    What it all boils down to is this. Rugby in WA is not big enough to support a Super-14’s team as well as maintain a vibrant local competition. WA is not big enough.

    Finally, having used a number of clichés in this article, let me add another. I have yet to see a mouse eat a cat. And I can see Rupert grinning already."

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    My assessment in hindsight.

    Point A, I think you were partially correct, certainly there has been plenty of Es egos, in it as a career move, but the litmus test for me was the line about limited exposure for locals.. Yeah, OK soaks has done pretty well out of the deal, but you mentioned rocko. Weren't Kieran and chance both rocko juniors, there are some neddies boys, etc.

    B I think it has raised the standard of WA rugby. As evidenced by the fat that the force aren't the only ones drafting WA juniors.

    C bring money into WA rugby... You're probably pretty much on the money tthere

    D increasing local interest. Probably it's been a little good and a little bad. It's hard to say how many kids were attracted to rugby through the exposure, I know minigigs was. OTOH, there is probably a subset of people who have been turned off participating in favour of spectatIng. Some have most likely been turned off the game altogether through the poor performances.

    In all, I'd say 50-50, considering it was pie in the sky stuff, I'd suggest you should be pretty happy with the mark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fulvio sammut View Post
    Back in 1997, When Super14 was first raised as a serious possibility in WA, I wrote a short article for the Palmyra in house newsletter about what could be expected in the eventuality.

    I republished the article in the same publication in 2005, the year before Super 14 was about to kick off here.

    I got a lot of things wrong, some right, but I believe what is occurring today thoroughly justifies my scepticism all those years ago.

    Here is a copy of that article as it was republished in 2005.

    *****


    "SUPER 14’S

    Appearing below is the text of an article first published in June 1997 in the then monthly Newsletter of the Palmyra Rugby Club, the “Paly Press”. It is reproduced without editing, except to correct minor errors which appeared in the original publication.

    One doesn’t have to agree with the sentiments or views expressed in the article, and probably most readers won’t, but it does bear thinking about.

    How true was it back in 1997, how true is it now, and more importantly, how true will it be in 2006 when Super 14’s kicks off in Western Australia.

    Let us hope the writer was a pessimist, not a prophet!


    Super 14’s in WA – Another Viewpoint

    The WARU is pushing for the inclusion of a team from WA in Murdoch’s “Rugby Circus”. But can we afford it?

    Many die-hard Rugby supporters see this only as an expensive ego-trip for the megalomaniacs at Perry Lakes.

    What has the WARU to gain from it? They will tell you:-

    A. National and International exposure.

    But for whom? For the Administrators and officials? Certainly! For the two or three WA-born players who might meet the standards? Perhaps! For Associates Rugby Club? Possibly! For ARKS, Cottesloe, Kalamunda, Rockingham or others in the local competition? Not on your life!


    B. It will raise the standard of WA Rugby.

    Like the Western Reds (now Perth Reds) did for local Rugby League? Like the Eagles did for Aussie Rules?

    The fact of the matter is that since the advent of a national side, the local Rugby League competition is nothing but a sad shadow of its former self. The players and supporters have abandoned it in droves. The sponsors don’t want to know, and at least four clubs (Armadale, Rockingham, Applecross and Willagee) have dropped out of 1st Grade or out of the competition altogether. And much the same has happened to the WAFL (now Westar Rules) competition – total emasculation. The fact is, the glamour (and therefore the money) will follow TV exposure and the hype, and to hell with the development of the game. Already the bull-dust is being spread – promises of money for local and junior development, coaching directors, etc, etc, being bandied about. If Rugby development is so close to the corporate heart of Rugby Union, why did the ARU wait until now? Ask Armadale, Rockingham, Applecross and Willagee Rugby League Clubs. How much of the spoils came their way from the ARL and Uncle Rupert?

    Sadly, a local national side will seek to skim the limited cream from the local competition (all three players!) and make up a side from well-paid, over-rated, soon-to-be pensioned-off New South Welshmen, Queenslanders, Kiwis and South Africans. And when their faded lights burn out, they will be replaced by other imports of the same ilk. It will be cheaper to buy players than to develop them. And who will be around to do the developing anyway?

    C. It will bring money into WA Rugby.

    See B. above. Sure there will be some money. Money for the top imports. Money for the administrative Taj Mahal. Money for the parasites who will worm their way into the administration. Money for Murdoch! But money for the local Clubs? Money for the semi-amateurs who play local club rugby? Money for junior development? Never!

    If anything, money will be drained away from local Rugby; in the way of sponsors; in the way of spectator support; in the way of the financial demands of reasonably competent (by local standards) players upon their clubs; in the way of the insatiable demands for more and more money from clubs by an administration which will become increasingly profit orientated at everyone else’s expense.


    D. It will increase local interest in Rugby.

    Really? Maybe! Maybe an entire 20 or 30 thousand locals will show a flicker of interest. Some will even attend the first few games. But the broad support will come from the enthusiasts who once (or now) played the game in all grades at the local club level. They are the financial life-blood of those clubs; and, as many of these people, for their own reasons, turn to the glamour of TV-coverage, the local clubs will die the death of 1,000 cuts. A team in an international competition will turn local rugby from what is essentially a participator sport into a spectator sport.


    What it all boils down to is this. Rugby in WA is not big enough to support a Super-14’s team as well as maintain a vibrant local competition. WA is not big enough.

    Finally, having used a number of clichés in this article, let me add another. I have yet to see a mouse eat a cat. And I can see Rupert grinning already."
    Fulvio, has the Force been more successful in developing players than you thought in 1997? I note that in Warnbro, that Rugby Goals have just been put in at Warnbro Senior High School, yes it has had a huge Kiwi migration in the last decade, but some less established rugby regions are now competing with Australian Rules Football and cultural artefacts are moving into these suburbs which has shown growth that would never have occurred.

    The core problem with the Force is they put their number one priority, long term sustainability of the club. This would involve the realisation that short term success could never be a priority. It was always about a development pathway and they put most of their efforts to make the Force lineup a squad which would be less reliant on East Coast players who would come for a few years and then leave.

    This was at odds with the views of a Sydney rugby community who cared mostly about whether Test matches were at Homebush or SFS (as noted by games of Shute Shield I watched last year). These myopic views within some of these snobby shute shield clubs went up against a club that would put every last cent to develop as many Force players seeing that they were in this for the long term. The fans could see the pathway and connected with the local players.

    I know my love of Rugby came from the 1996 expansion to Subiaco Oval, I loved and still love the game. But I will just head back to local games dissapointed that the whole infrastructure is lost because the ARU failed to understand WA. Failed to understand them thinking we would take this lying down and could never be part of the vision of what the Force wanted to achieve. They always saw this as a 30 year project.

    Unfortunately the men in charge are conservatives who yearn for the days of old and the thought of inconvenience or travel to Homebush still turns off many of the men. Rugby is for those of the eastern suburbs and this powerbase felt that we would lie down and allow them to take our team away.

    Maybe after this episode is over, when many of my friends had doomsday views from weeks ago, the ARU may choose to understand the difference between Rugby in WA and Rugby in Randwick.

    If they choose to stay in their cocoon, we will never blossom as strongly as we had before.

    I gain more confident by the day our club for the west, with all the mistakes it has made, will shine brighter into the future. As Rugby is loved too much to see our Force float away...

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  4. #4
    Senior Player andrewM's Avatar
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    Interesting words Fulvio, some prophetic, some, thankfully, you were way off the mark..so far?

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    Veteran Contributor fulvio sammut's Avatar
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    The Force has been successful in recognising young raw talent developed in the club system, and further developing it right up to Wallaby level; equally it has failed to recognise and properly handle some such talent so that it could achieve its full potential in WA, and let it slip away overseas.

    Two glaring examples from my club alone come to mind, Jake Ball, now Welsh International lock, and Nemani Nadolo, Fiji International winger and Super 18 star for a New Zealand outfit.

    It seemed to me at the time that the local club you came from had more bearing on your progress as a player in the Force than did your capabilities.

    But that was in the past.

    The question now is, will we get another opportunity?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fulvio sammut View Post
    The Force has been successful in recognising young raw talent developed in the club system, and further developing it right up to Wallaby level; equally it has failed to recognise and properly handle some such talent so that it could achieve its full potential in WA, and let it slip away overseas.

    Two glaring examples from my club alone come to mind, Jake Ball, now Welsh International lock, and Nemani Nadolo, Fiji International winger and Super 18 star for a New Zealand outfit.

    It seemed to me at the time that the local club you came from had more bearing on your progress as a player in the Force than did your capabilities.

    But that was in the past.

    The question now is, will we get another opportunity?
    Well the fact there is excess talent that the Force can't pick every great player is showing more of a reason why the state is too valuable to let go. Coming from a soccer background, nepotism is rife from under 14s upwards. Think its a WA Sports thing rather than a Rugby thing. The sooner it gets tossed out of the entire sports eco-system in WA the better.

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    Fulvio I don't think we can estimate the amount of damage that has been done to the game by our last 2 coaches not only to us but Australian rugby in general. Like a dollar for how many players were told not required and look elsewhere and then show up in other sides killing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fulvio sammut View Post
    The question now is, will we get another opportunity?
    And the equally important follow-on question...if we do, will we recognise and learn from our mistakes?

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    As has been said, you got some right, some wrong, Fulvio. Like many who try to compare the current situation of Rugby in WA with the state of Rugby League post the Super League War.
    The fact is an under 19 Western Reds team played a losing GF against the Brisbane Broncos in Brisbane after winning a semi against the Raiders in Canberra. 17 of the 22 kids were WA grown. How would they have developed if the war didn't happen? As with what may eventually happen should to Rugby should the ARU bastardry succeed - who knows?

    But one cliche is for sure. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I think the fat lady might just be getting laryngitis.

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    I think, at this moment, the fat lady is in Adelaide not knowing whether to turn left or right.

    Wouldn't it be cool for the legal mumbo jumbo to last until march of next year and nobody in Australia be able to finalise their list because they don't know who to buy?

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    No.

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    "The main difference between playing League and Union is that now I get my hangovers on Monday instead of Sunday - Tom David

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    Legend Contributor brokendown gunfighter's Avatar
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    the trouble is,of course is the large number of players coming off contract this year-they cannot negotiate a deal with the Force(read ARU)
    because the future of the force is unknown-so what do they do?
    bugger off overseas I reckon for some-and then later down the track when if,halleluia we are still in the comp after all -we are left with half a team!

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brokendown gunfighter View Post
    -we are left with half a team!
    Look on the bright side. If we prevail we can fill the other half with unemployed Rabble.

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    Legend Contributor brokendown gunfighter's Avatar
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    that sounds like me!

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    .....and me.

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