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Thread: Super draft the way to save Force from Grim Reaper

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    Super draft the way to save Force from Grim Reaper

    The Australian Rugby Union can’t be allowed to wait until the foreman of the SANZAAR jury announces that one of Australia’s Super Rugby franchises must die.

    It’s too late by then and all the hand-wringing in the world won’t save the franchise doomed for execution. Almost certainly the candidate has already been chosen — Western Force.

    If you accept the inherent logic that prevails these days, it makes sense. The Force aren’t as valuable to the ARU as the other four franchises. Seemingly the original three — NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds and the Brumbies — have been exempt from the ballot, though the Brumbies’ position at the moment is precarious and both NSW and Queensland have been bailed out by the ARU, NSW twice.

    So as long as Melbourne are a committed long-term player under present owner Andrew Cox, they have the population, the viewing audience and the money to survive. Cox yesterday issued this statement to The Australian: “We’re very excited with what we achieved this season and 100 per cent committed to being a long-standing member of the Super Rugby fraternity.”

    I’m sure Cox won’t mind overly if I suggest the late Mandy Rice-Davies would have been familiar with that type of quote. Cox almost certainly is here for the long-haul but even if he didn’t intend to be, he still would have released that statement.

    So that puts the Force in the hot seat with SANZAAR expected to make a decision in November on what will happen for the 2018 season. They were already too far down the path of planning for next year to make changes immediately. Indeed, the 2017 draw will be released today.

    And 2019 is World Cup year and there doesn’t need to be further disruption. So if the integrity problems SANZAAR had with its Super Rugby format — where teams play only some of their opponents during the course of the regular season — are to be addressed, then 2018 is it.

    Of course, SANZAAR might decide to do absolutely nothing or virtually nothing. Its chief executive Andy Marinos doesn’t see the current competition as being fatally flawed so a bit of tweaking might suffice.

    And the first thing to be changed is the idea of awarding each conference winner a place in the finals. If a franchise can’t make it into an eight-team playoff on its own merits, then it simply shouldn’t be there. If that means Australia or South Africa go without a finalist for a year or two, then so be it. It’s utterly unfair to ask teams that finished higher than a conference winner to give up home ground advantage. New Zealand surely would be the winner under this scheme and while their teams are playing as they are, they deserve to be.

    Until this year, the Force were completely self-sustaining. They cost the ARU nothing. The Force even paid their set-up costs of $2 million, with a loan from the WA government, repaid within two and a half years. Each year it contributed about $1m to community rugby. But now that the well has run dry, they are suddenly being held to account for their failure to deliver on the field.

    Let’s look at that … the short answer is that their roster is below standard. Until now, Australia have looked at this problem in isolation, as a problem affecting only Australia. But as Marinos made clear yesterday, the problem of the competition is a SANZAAR-wide problem, so why not embrace a SANZAAR-wide solution?

    Instead of having an Australian draft, the ARU should persuade NZ and South Africa to embrace a system-wide draft — at a predetermined date any unsigned players, be they Kiwi, South African, Australian, Pacific Islander, should be free to register for a three-nation draft. Almost certainly, it would be New Zealanders drafted onto the Force or the Cheetahs, but it also could be white South Africans squeezed out by the quota system.

    The Kiwis would undoubtedly complain but if Graham Henry is going to make comments that NZ need a strong Australia, then let’s take him at his word. Talent identification is pretty much a science in NZ, but it is possible a potential All Black could end up in the draft and in another country. The answer is simple: allow him to represent NZ if he is good enough.

    Watch the Mitre 10 Cup — as the ITM Cup used to be — for a matter of minutes and it becomes clear how many Super Rugby-standard players are going to waste. The whole world stands in awe of the All Blacks and how they are playing but it can’t be sustained. Unless other sides rise to challenge them, their standard will fall. It’s in everyone’s interest for a system-wide draft to succeed.

    As for those who complain that foreigners will take the place of potential Wallabies, surely it’s better to have 80 per cent of something than 100 per cent of nothing.

    It may take some time for a draft to work. The AFL experience is that even with the No 1 draft pick, it can still take five years to turn a side around, sometimes longer. That means the ARU has to keep the Force alive for some time, by hook or crook. If all else fails, allow the Force to play as a member of the South African conference while their place is taken by Japan. After all, the reason for adopting the conference system in the first place was that it allowed expansion vertically, so why is it Japan are having to play in the SA conference, five time zones removed?

    But the main concern, for Australians, is the survival of the Force. Reorganising the competition this way would enable one conference of 10 teams — five Kiwis, four Australian and Japan — and another of eight — the six existing South African sides, Argentina and the Force.

    This is only an exercise in buying time. If SANZAAR wants to rationalise by getting even bigger — there is strong rumour of Georgia wanting to join if the Six Nations continue to oppose their admission — then that can all be done when the broadcast deal ends in 2020. But there is a reek of death in the air in Perth and the ARU needs to marshal all its negotiating skills to keep the Grim Reaper at bay.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/spor...6aea0c77c19cc1

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    Legend Contributor Alison's Avatar
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    Sounds like Wayne Smith is trying really, really hard to find ways to be rid of the Force, by hook or by crook. Asshat!!

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    Champion Tazzmania's Avatar
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    An opinion piece at best, rehashing much of the same old same old......

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Seems more like he is stating the bleeding obvious. No sense shooting the messenger. To me he appears to be the lone voice putting The Force position in an even, measured way in the ES media.

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    I've always considered Smith to be largely on the side of the Force, all the way back to the BS around fines and the like. Realistically he is more anti the crap management of the ARU, but sadly that is much the same thing when it comes to the Force. He has always consistently called the ARU out for never spending a cent on rugby in WA, while bailing out the ES sides on several occasions. He has always been pretty scathing about the ego driven moneypit they turned Melbourne into as well, and about the only one prepared to put a number on it. I disagree with him in this instance regarding a Sanzaar wide draft, but on the whole I think he is about the only journalist who wouldn't be pushing the "can the Force" line.

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    Concerns emerged in 2016 about the draw being unbalanced — one African conference doesn’t play New Zealand teams — and given the results of some lower teams, that Australia and South Africa don’t have the depth to field five and six teams respectively.

    Marinos said focusing on strategies to increase the competitiveness of all teams was a solution for many problems, including the balance of a draw, the finals series and size of the competition as a whole.
    “If the teams are all competitive, we have consistently better results out of all the games, that does go some way to managing people’s expectations around the integrity of the competition,” Marinos said.

    Marinos defended Super Rugby from critics, however, pointing to increased overall spectator figures (2.2 million) and almost 50 million TV viewers globally.

    “People think the whole thing is broken — well, it is not,” Marinos said. “It’s a damn good competition.”

    Country by country analysis paints a different figure, though, with average crowd sizes down in Australia and New Zealand and most SANZAAR nations struggling to stay afloat financially.

    Though the strategy planning is figuring out where Super Rugby will be in ten years time, Marinos conceded strengthening the health of the game at the “base” had to be a first priority for SANZAAR.

    “The only way you can look at an expansionary model is if you have strength in your core markets. You have to get that right. It’s like building a house,” he said.

    “(Australia is) critically important, because it is one of the founding members. Not to be too romantic about it but we have always had three key pillars: Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. It is the strength of those national unions and its Super Rugby structures that have always been the strength of the international game and the strength of SANZAAR. So, we are working very closely with Bill and Rob Clarke and the guys at the ARU, and with the clubs, to understand what are the pressures and the dynamics.”

    Marinos wouldn’t be drawn on whether the Western Force — who are under pressure to survive — had value given Perth’s geography and timezone, or whether Super Rugby would have fewer teams in 2018.

    It would seem unlikely given expansion remains firmly on SANZAAR’s long-term radar.

    Expanding Super Rugby further might send shivers down the spine of cash-strapped Aussie rugby bosses, who are crying out for more local product to please their fans and their sponsors.

    But Marinos said with the huge money on offer in Europe, growing the game to new markets is the only option to tap into new money.

    http://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/su...2b3db8837b16f8

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    Interesting that SANZAAR are actually thinking of expanding not contracting.

    As for Smiths article he does make the point that all the Aussie franchises have been bailed out at some stage by the ARU but interestingly does not say the dollar amount to which they were bailed out. Qld has received around $2 million, NSW around $5 million, Brumbies $1.5 million, Rebels nearly $10 million and the Force $800 000.
    As for the Forces competitiveness, well thats crap too sorry. We were able to match just about any team in the competition last year for about 50-60 mins because Foley thought wrapping the players in cotton wool would be a good strategy to combat the travel. This has been identified already as being a major failing in this years performances. Wessels, although a complete unknown at this level, has already identified the 2 key areas we need to improve being fitness and core skills and as we are seeing from the Spirit (dont know how many of you saw the Facebook post of them doing fitness testing midweek this week) the extra focus on these areas is starting to show some results. I also hope that the mental preparation is being looked at for an area of improvement as a lot of our games this year were determined by our execution in the "big moments". Many times we made a mistake at crucial times in matches which had a detrimental affect on our confidence levels to win those close matches.
    And as i keep banging on about, Australian rugby is starting to get the pathways right with Super U/20s and the NRC. Each franchise now has dedicated academy setups to produce players. That is now 3 major pathways to get to Super Rugby. Most importantly though they need a bit of time to flourish. We are seeing in the NRC so many 19, 20, 21 yr olds running out for each team. This will pay off sooner or later and is a great argument to support Marinos plan to up the competitiveness of the Australian conference.

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Sounds like Wayne Smith is trying really, really hard to find ways to be rid of the Force, by hook or by crook. Asshat!!
    Actually it sounded to me like he was defending the Force, talking about being self-funded until this year, talking about the ARU never even considering canning the original three (then snidely suggesting that Canberra might be a good choice) and making a financial case for Melbourne (although I can't understand the financial case since the ARU has been pouring money into the Rebels since they started and requiring virtually no investment from the "private owner")

    I don't like the idea of a system wide draft, simply because there are players warehoused in Australian franchises that could start in Perth. The Waratahs routinely run a bench with two or three Wallabies (Some current) and the NRC has proven that there are some bloody good players running around NSW just waiting for their chance to play for the Tahs.

    The current system isn't doing much to lure these guys away from Sydney, the cynic in me would say that they're on a retainer from NSW not to play interstate.

    Regardless of their reasons for not moving, this situation needs to be rectified and given a chance to have an impact before looking at importing more foreigners (remembering that Force already has a bunch of development and marquee slots, this would constitute some sort of de-facto draft anyway.

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    C'mon the

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    Legend Contributor .X.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison View Post
    Sounds like Wayne Smith is trying really, really hard to find ways to be rid of the Force, by hook or by crook. Asshat!!
    Can I suggest another read of the article - its really not that bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Exile View Post
    Can I suggest another read of the article - its really not that bad.
    Agreed, it sounded the "by hook or by crook" was saying that the ARU really needs to dig it's heels in to keep the Force by any means possible.

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    That article from Fox is very interesting and shows some hope in the continued existence of the Force.
    What I'm taking from it is
    • To make Super Rugby interesting make the teams more equal.
    • Don't ditch struggling teams (less money for SANZAR) instead make them more competitive
    • Don't ditch struggling teams when trying to expand.
    • Expansion makes for bigger markets and more money to compete with Europe's money.

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    Don't need to be that drastic - just fix the salary cap.

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    I wonder if they'd be looking at the possibility of bringing in 3rd payments or opening up other streams of income?

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beige View Post
    Don't need to be that drastic - just fix the salary cap.
    It doesn't need fixing, just enforcement

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    C'mon the

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    It doesn't need fixing, just enforcement
    No it actually needs fixing.

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