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Thread: Don't sell the game short O'Neill - Connolly

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    Don't sell the game short O'Neill - Connolly

    Former Wallabies coach John Connolly responds to ARU boss John O'Neill's criticisms of the failed Australian Rugby Championship, por Wallabies' results and the previous regime's financial follies.

    Over the past three or four months there have been many rugby topics in the news and people haven't stopped asking me for my thoughts. Issues such as importing overseas players, an expanded Super 14, the game's financial state, and John O'Neill's constant criticism of England before the World Cup.

    But the topic that constantly surfaces is O'Neill's lowballing of the previous administration and branding the game "boring".

    The importance of the way we talk about the game was brought home to me big time recently. In the week Super 14 tickets went on sale, a friend of mine was set to buy Reds season tickets but thought, "Bugger it, I'll watch it on TV", following John's comments.

    The average fan believes what they read in the paper, whether it's factual or spin. And the rugby story that has stood out recently has been John's continual criticism of the game as it was run over the previous four years.

    Since he returned to the chief executive job at the Australian Rugby Union, John has regularly criticised the previous administration, even using the occasion of the ARU staff Christmas party to tell the soldiers of the previous four years that their work didn't really matter. Many were moved on.

    Then there was the barrage of complaints about the state of the game at the end of January.

    All of this has left a bitter taste in the mouths of those involved in rugby. Former ARU boss Gary Flowers had a tough job over the previous four years. Whether he was the right person for the role is for other people to decide. But he was an honest, good bloke and the game is poorer for his leaving.

    He oversaw the last big TV deal, the implementation of the now defunct Australian Rugby Championship - which I believe ultimately cost him his job - and was a very popular member of the staff. It's very hard to please everyone. To his disadvantage, Gary shied away from the media. John can sniff out a TV camera from 100 metres - from behind a brick wall. He loves the press.

    John's comments have also extended to the national team. In recent months, he has commented on the Wallabies culture, a very hard thing to define. John has spoken about getting back to our winning ways, but the Wallabies' record during his tenure wasn't wonderful.


    In 2003, they won nine of 14 games for a strike rate of 63 per cent. In the World Cup year just passed, Australia won 75 per cent of their games. In 2001-02, the Wallabies averaged just 60 per cent.

    John has also brought the financial state of rugby into the headlines. The people closest to the game, in the inner sanctum, are aware that a World Cup year is always a poor one financially. France made a fortune out of hosting the World Cup, as did Australia. The only country unlikely to gain a financial windfall from hosting is New Zealand in 2011. If Australia had a better relationship with New Zealand and the International Rugby Board, we might have been able to pick up an overflow of games from across the Tasman, as the Kiwis might not run the tournament to the IRB's satisfaction in terms of crowds, accommodation and revenue.

    The revenue due to be raised for Australian rugby this year was organised by the Flowers administration. The Test against the All Blacks in Hong Kong scheduled for October will bring in about $US5 million ($5.59 million). An extra Test against Wales on the Wallabies' end-of-season tour is likely to raise 400,000 ($870,000). Also scheduled are a Barbarians game at Wembley - worth 1 million - and two Bledisloe Cup Tests at home. Although the World Cup year is generally tough, the following years make up for it.

    John has also grabbed headlines by suggesting we expand the Super 14 to two rounds, a proposal that hasn't been thought out terribly well. Remember, the season already includes 13 Tests. We'd have a situation similar to the English premiership, where they play 22 games over two rounds but miss out on their Test stars for six or seven of those matches. And their crowds waned.

    New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew turned his nose up at O'Neill's idea immediately, pointing out that New Zealand and South Africa have their domestic competitions to run as well.

    The answer could be to bring in a team from Japan or Argentina and a combined Pacific Islands team. Also, we could revert to an eight-team finals system, such as the NRL's, which would give us another six to eight weeks of football while preserving the Test matches.

    Australia's great advantage has always been the Wallabies.

    John has raised the possibility of an open player market. After working in the open market for many years in Europe, I know it's definitely not to Australia's advantage. It would cost about $500,000 to bring a Brian O'Driscoll to the Super 14, but we would have no control over his skill and fitness levels. Hardly a cost-saving measure. Plus, the cynics among us would also suggest we have already lost two marquee players in Dan Vickerman and Chris Latham.

    The answer to retaining players could be to save money in other areas. The ARU could cut, from 55 to 35, the number of Super 14 players whose contracts it tops up. And match payments to Wallabies could be halved from $12,000 to $6000 because players don't normally factor bonuses into their sign-on wages.

    After watching Australia defeat Qatar in the football during the week, it struck me that the coverage surrounding the game was overwhelmingly positive. Contrast that with O'Neill's lowballing. Some see John as the Messiah. Most see him as just a naughty little boy.



    Source: The Sun-Herald



    http://www.rugbyheaven.com.au/news/n...e#contentSwap1

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    Why is it that now Connolly is out of the head coach job he finally starts to make sense, shame he couldn't have been as forthright and truthful in his reign as the wallabies coach, ie actually choosing on form rather than rely on politics...
    Good on you for taking off the blinkers, even though the horse has bolted...

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    So Knuckles isn't looking for a job with the ARU for a while

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    Knuckles is just pissed about the mud that has stuck to him in what J'ON has been throwing.

    On the whole, this can be seen as another shot ina battle between two big heads who aren't quite considering what it does to the game!

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    $5million for the game in Hong Kong!

    I think the ARU should allow a couple of these games a year, they can fund the ARC from the proceeds of the exhibition matches in China and Japan.

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    ...Or they could almost cover the needs of the NSWRU......almost!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    ...Or they could almost cover the needs of the NSWRU......almost!
    Or tell them to go and stick it where the sun dont shine!!!! Then as TOCC said and bring back the ARC to grow the game not look after all the old farts on the East Coast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TOCC View Post
    $5million for the game in Hong Kong!

    I think the ARU should allow a couple of these games a year, they can fund the ARC from the proceeds of the exhibition matches in China and Japan.
    I never thought of funding the ARC from that... Good idea!

    However, I think the Wallabies should stick to only one of these big 'neutral' tests each year - otherwise they risk: a) oversaturating markets that are not established rugby markets - especially if other teams such as the All Blacks have similar plans; and b) sacrificing tests in traditional countries.

    That said, if October's test is a success, I think these fixtures could become a great way to assist the game's global growth and generate extra revenue - if they're done right. By that, I mean picking locations where the occasion would match the status of such a prestigious test (media coverage, sell-out crowd, etc.) and where there is a realistic potential to establish an attractive rugby viewing market. Rugby's international structure is actually an asset in this case - you can play a one-off game that is still an official test match (i.e. it is not just an 'exhibition' match) without impacting on existing competitions.

    I would say that the annual AFL friendly in London was an example of how NOT to do it - they were pretty much a waste of time. On the other hand, the annual Toyota Cup soccer match that they used to have in Tokyo (especially Flamengo's destruction of Liverpool in 1981) had a direct hand in the ultimate professionalisation of the sport in that part of the world.

    Hong Kong is a smart move to test the waters: if the concept doesn't succeed there, then it won't succeed anywhere; if it does succeed there, then rugby may have just found a valuable tool to market itself.

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    I agree beige, but I'd have to say, if you can make 5 mill out of a neutral test in Hong Kong, put one on every year....The first one's the risky one, nobody might turn up, but announce at the ground that you'll be playing another next year, and you'll get a similar crowd!

    If you're making that sort of dough, it's worth the hassle!

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    C'mon the

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