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Thread: Forget the Kiwis, Australian rugby's future is local

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    Forget the Kiwis, Australian rugby's future is local

    Forget the Kiwis, Australian rugby's future is local

    By Georgina Robinson
    May 9, 2020 — 12.01am

    A national club competition culminating in a state-based representative season should replace a "broken" Super Rugby model in Australia, a leading sports consultancy group says.

    The competition, drawing on the top clubs from Queensland, NSW, the ACT, Victoria and Western Australia in a promotion-relegation model, should be modelled on the English Premiership to attract private investment and allow Rugby Australia to concentrate on the Wallabies and its elite pathways under a traditional 'governing body' model.

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    Heartland: Warringah claim the Shute Shield in 2017.Credit:James Brickwood

    The Super Rugby sides should function as representative teams that play a championship-style competition at the end of the club season. While there is renewed interest from players and fans in a trans-Tasman competition, New Zealand teams are difficult to monetise and create time zone complexity.

    That's the conclusion of the Gemba Group, an Australian and UK-based consultancy that has worked with FIFA, Formula 1, Cricket Australia, the NRL and Tennis Australia on their commercial and broadcast rights.

    "We said, 'if we started again, what's the most fan-centric model for southern hemisphere rugby and club rugby, with a focus on Australia," Rob Mills, the group's chief executive and founder, said.

    "Where we’re landing from all the fan engagement data, is that we think that you go back to a domestic-only competition with promotion-relegation and a representative season at the end of it. That is the model that will engage fans most and go back to the core of where Australia's strength is."

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    'Low value' games: 63 per cent of the 2020 Super Rugby season's games are a poor investment for broadcaster Foxtel.Credit:The Gemba Group

    Mills's group has analysed 15 years of crowd and broadcast data and taken in OzTam ratings to conclude that Super Rugby is a poor investment for broadcasters and approaching irrelevance among fans.

    It has classified more than 60 per cent of games in the 2020 season as of "low value" to broadcasters, either in 'graveyard' time zones, weaker 'shoulder' time zones or featuring teams of little interest to Australian fans.

    Its research shows the average Super Rugby audience has dropped by 43 per cent since 2013 and, worryingly for rugby administrators and broadcasters, the 16-39 age bracket has recorded a 73 per cent decline.

    In the SANZAAR grouping, the group's research using what it terms 'passion metrics' has also found that rugby is the ninth most popular sport in the Australian market, compared to its top billing in New Zealand and third-place ranking in South Africa, behind cricket and football.

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    Drop zone: Super Rugby ratings in steep decline since 2013, with younger audiences turning off in droves.Credit:The Gemba Group

    "From where we’re coming from at the moment we think the SANZAAR model is massively problematic and COVID-19 has laid that bare a little," Mills said

    "If you say the strength of the sport here is in the club games of NSW and Queensland, then that's where you go. Invest back in those leagues.

    "They become the premier rugby competition in Australia with nothing above it meaning, instantly, your best players are in it. There is a heritage and history there and we know that what works is emotional rivalries and tribalism, as well as a clear geographic identity of where teams come from.

    "You need to inject money in to that system, but if it becomes the primary product and gets the resources, that’s when you get to a step-change of what the competition actually looks like."

    The group's conclusions fly in the face of renewed interest in a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, with Japan and a Pacific Islands team such as Fiji, replacing the current iteration.

    A slide the group published this week on social media showed the Blues were the second most-watched Super Rugby team in Australia, well behind the Waratahs but just ahead of the Reds. It appears to support the case for Australia and New Zealand ditching South Africa.

    But Mills said while it was hard to pinpoint without further research, his gut feel was that Australia's large Kiwi expat population – and not the team's innate popularity – drove those numbers.

    "Assuming we’re comparing it to a trans-Tasman model with an with a Pacific team and Japan, the games that are still rating on television here are the derbies, even in the current construct of Super Rugby," Mills said.

    "We looked at the top 10 games of the last two years and the majority are derby games. From a broadcast perspective, 65 per cent of the games Foxtel are buying with the current $57 million-a-year deal are are games in bad time zones or games Aussies aren’t interested in, including New Zealand derbies."

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    Australian teams have performed worse and worse over Super Rugby's 25-year history.Credit:The Gemba Group

    The group believes the UK's Premiership club competition, which is based on history-rich clubs and has been open to private investment, is a worthy model to follow.

    "The game needs to have the discussion about what will feed better Test performance for the Wallabies. What’s interesting is that when Super Rugby was 12 teams in 1996-2005 the win rate was 68 per cent. In the 2016 to 2019 period it dropped to 45 per cent," Mills said.

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    Gemba Group founder Rob Mills believe Super Rugby no longer strengthens the Wallabies.Credit:The Gemba Group

    "Super Rugby structure is not the only reason for that but we would argue it shows it's not giving us the benefit we thought it might once have done.

    "One argument about the UK model is that a broadening of the depth of professional players can also drive better Test performance. If you had a scenario where you saw private money focused on creating a really vibrant, results-driven club system you could then have Rugby Australia focused on pathways and Wallabies, as a traditional governing body does around the world."

    https://www.smh.com.au/sport/rugby-u...08-p54r97.html

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    Last edited by Ham105; 09-05-20 at 14:57.

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    A lot of that article is reheated leftovers, e.g. the SR since 1996 chart is an update of one used to wield the axe in 2017, but at least uses win percentage instead of the visually biased ladder position metric.

    The data of 18-39 y.o. SR viewers versus 40+ y.o. is of interest, but the rest is nothing new.

    Feel free to shoot the messenger, just don't forget that the message is from the national media stage, not a rugby fan forum.

    The thing with all these stories is to be informed about what is being put out there, good and bad.

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    Point 1, I thought rugby Australia was broke, sacking three quarters of their staff and reducing salaries, how do they afford an external consultancy group right now?

    Point 2, which Sydney rugby club does Rob mills link with? He throws WA and Melbourne into the club rugby champion mix to make the concept sound nation, but then talks about the best players coming back to Sydney and Brisbane with relegation into the mix. It will end up being the universally lambasted national club championship with as much credibility as the baseball world series.

    If that's the option, why don't we keep the nrc as the national domestic competition and force NSW to actually do something worthwhile with their teams. Listen to papworths interview, he provided a pretty logical sounding perspective that I hadn't heard before.

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    Spot on.

    The article conveniently doesn't mention who comissioned the consultancy.

    It is probably not from RA but from the "Sydney Push" looking to take over.

    Pay someone to get the report you want. Filter in what is needed, filter out what is not. Then trumpet it to push your agenda.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    Point 1, I thought rugby Australia was broke, sacking three quarters of their staff and reducing salaries, how do they afford an external consultancy group right now?

    Point 2, which Sydney rugby club does Rob mills link with? He throws WA and Melbourne into the club rugby champion mix to make the concept sound nation, but then talks about the best players coming back to Sydney and Brisbane with relegation into the mix. It will end up being the universally lambasted national club championship with as much credibility as the baseball world series.

    If that's the option, why don't we keep the nrc as the national domestic competition and force NSW to actually do something worthwhile with their teams. Listen to papworths interview, he provided a pretty logical sounding perspective that I hadn't heard before.
    A better NRC with a better focus on developing country based players is the way to go.

    The Australian schools championship becomes the Aus under 18 competition similar to Craven Week. Qld and NSW form country district teams with selection for those teams come from their regional carnivals like they did in the past.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    Point 1, I thought rugby Australia was broke, sacking three quarters of their staff and reducing salaries, how do they afford an external consultancy group right now?

    Point 2, which Sydney rugby club does Rob mills link with? He throws WA and Melbourne into the club rugby champion mix to make the concept sound nation, but then talks about the best players coming back to Sydney and Brisbane with relegation into the mix. It will end up being the universally lambasted national club championship with as much credibility as the baseball world series.

    If that's the option, why don't we keep the nrc as the national domestic competition and force NSW to actually do something worthwhile with their teams. Listen to papworths interview, he provided a pretty logical sounding perspective that I hadn't heard before.
    One of the things I noticed about the consultancy's report was that "New Zealand teams create time zone complexity". What, 2 hours ahead of Sydney? So how easy is it to discount Perth, which is 3 hours behind Sydney for half the season?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ham105 View Post
    The article conveniently doesn't mention who comissioned the consultancy.
    Good point, it appears I jumped to a conclusion.

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    IMHO The "big" States will never agree to the Promotion/Relegation System. Its a real possibility that QLD or NSW could have a bad run and the alleged biggest crowd draws arent in the Premier League. OMG - we just couldn't have that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheikh View Post
    One of the things I noticed about the consultancy's report was that "New Zealand teams create time zone complexity". What, 2 hours ahead of Sydney? So how easy is it to discount Perth, which is 3 hours behind Sydney for half the season?
    Good point. The Kiwis have already included that discount in discussions of any Trans-Tasman comp.

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    you have to wonder that if the Western Force survived with "community funding" rather then a Mining Magnate. Would WA be a real part of any planning?

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    Not a snowballs chance in hell x, the only reason anybody is talking about the force is the belief that wiggy might still want to throw 70 million into the pot. I don't know him, but if he does still want to throw money at rugby. It needs to have some serious strings sttachef

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    Good point, it appears I jumped to a conclusion.
    Come to think of it, I might have as well.

    The report might have even come from Fox, but leaked through Nein Media instead of their own NewsCorps to disguise the scent. The graphic about tv ratings slots might hint that way.

    Would not put it past them but, then again, I could just be wearing a tinfoil hat.

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    Tinfoil hats are the predominant style on here

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    Someone put up an article on the Roar about buying shares in to the Wallabies like the Force did with the Own the Force release.

    Of course there were naysayers saying it would be too risky having private ownership and a say in the National team. It already is occurring overseas that’s why we are behind other countries.

    England and Ireland have supporters clubs which give priority for members to purchase test tickets. Local clubs also sell tickets via their own ticket officer to paid up club members and patrons. Fans pick them up at local businesses who support their clubs. That’s why tests sell out there.

    Ireland has ten year ticket sales for Lansdowne Road when the first 10 year ticket sales were due to expire and they were instantly snapped up. Guaranteed revenue. Wales have debenture holders. Easy to do when you play tests at the same venue but nothing to stop the Wallabies from having a membership club or scheme where the money raised goes in to the national team. I think there was something similar done in the past.

    Schools used to get ticket allocations here to tests that’s why you used to see rows of kids in uniforms.

    Now when the Wallabies play the ABs in Sydney take away the ANZ Stadium memberships and corporate box holders the RA probably have to sell over 55,000 tickets via Ticketmaster or Ticketek who probably collect a fee.

    The IRFU only really have to sell 20,000 tickets to a test which is often done via clubs. Take away the ten year ticket holders, corporates and debenture holders it is not much to sell. Money is already in the bank. Six Nations tickets rarely go on public sale. It is similar in England.

    Instead of shooting stones at the Europeans it is high time we look at what works.

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    Last edited by Bakkies; 09-05-20 at 19:38.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    Tinfoil hats are the predominant style on here
    "It's Not Paranoia If They're Shooting Live Bullets"

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