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Thread: RA boss offers to take surplus Kiwi players as part of Super Rugby draft

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    RA boss offers to take surplus Kiwi players as part of Super Rugby draft

    By Georgina Robinson
    August 13, 2020 — 12.01am

    Rugby Australia will pitch a player draft and ask New Zealand to send over its surplus players to ease depth fears about Australian Super Rugby sides.

    RA chairman Hamish McLennan said he would propose a competition-wide draft if Australia was forced to go it alone with another Super Rugby AU season next year.

    But he also said a Big Bash-style open borders concept, where the Australian sides were seen as destinations of choice for players from New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa and the United Kingdom, could help even out depth disparities and add excitement to the competition.

    "The draft is not a new concept, but if New Zealand are worried about team depth issues then why don't we share some of the players around and have Kiwis playing for some of our sides," McLennan said, acknowledging the idea would be seen as a radical one by New Zealand Rugby.

    "It probably doesn't fit into their spreadsheet and they might be suffering from that debilitating syndrome, which is 'not invented here'. But if you're asking how can we make it more interesting for fans and broadcast, that's one way we can do it and it solves the depth issue."

    McLennan will not only need to sell the concept to New Zealand, but to the chairs of NSW and Queensland.

    The Rugby Union Players' Association has proposed a draft in the past, but the idea has always run aground on the shores of the two biggest rugby nurseries, NSW and Queensland, which have been reluctant to surrender their home-grown talent to rival teams.

    McLennan said he had not spoken to the QRU or to NSW Rugby but he was determined to have the concept looked at seriously for next year.

    "It would help solve team depth issues, the concerns [New Zealand] have, and I think a draft would be extremely promotable and exciting for the fans," he said. "It would also create more content for the game."

    RA would cap the number of foreign players at two or three in an extension of the "foreign marquee" and "foreign development" concepts that were used in the past to bring in players such as 2014 Waratahs wrecking ball Jacques Potgieter and Rebels players Danny Cipriani, Geoff Parling, Gareth Delve and Shota Horie. Current Rebels halfback and Fiji international Frank Lomani is also a foreign player.

    McLennan wants to make it a standout feature of the Australian competition – whether it's in a trans-Tasman Super competition or a domestic tournament – in the same vein as AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Rashid Khan and Andrew Flintoff's participation in the BBL.

    "If we're a destination and it's the premier professional competition in the world then it's going to bring players out for nine to 12 weeks and then let them go," he said.

    "This is a moment in time where we can do something completely different and it would work and we should not waste this opportunity. Obviously the Kiwis have to buy into it and it's not invented by them so they might be reticent."

    Convincing New Zealand to sanction its players playing in Australia will be a tough ask, but NZR is already funnelling players to Japan as a way of coping with the overseas player drain. It has been happening in an unofficial capacity for a number of years, with the likes of Taniela Tupou, Pete Samu and Sekope Kepu moving to Australia in search of opportunities.

    There is also an argument that the Australian system is not the rough-hewn goat track it once was. There is now a method behind the movement of coaches, with director of rugby Scott Johnson overseeing a national high-performance framework.

    Some of the country's top practitioners have been repatriated, such as Scott Wisemantel, Matt Taylor and Jim McKay, and the likes of John Pryor and Damian Marsh on the strength and conditioning side. Force coach Tim Sampson, Junior Wallabies coach Jason Gilmore, Brumbies coaches Dan McKellar and Peter Hewat, Melbourne assistant Shaun Berne and NSW forwards coach Matt Cockbain, among others, are all on the RA radar.

    McLennan said he was confident overseas players would slot into solid rugby programs and that Super Rugby AU was starting to show Australia was bridging the gap.

    "The last round proves that our standards are improving and the quality of the rugby is getting better," he said. "I'm feeling a little more confident about the player question."


    From the Sydney Morning Herald here

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    Not sure if a draft can work, X, or will be needed to recruit from NZ.

    NZ are now talking about extra bidders for their version which includes some names that might be familiar to TWF.

    Presented from nzh without comment:

    Revealed: The ambitious, new Super Rugby bid

    Liam Napier
    14 Aug, 2020 10:45am

    The push to be included in the new-look Super Rugby competition has another interested party, with a new group lodging a formal expression of interest with New Zealand Rugby to be part of the 2021 competition. Liam Napier reports.

    The Asia Pacific Dragons have launched an ambitious bid to join Super Rugby from 2022.

    The Singapore-based Dragons, backed by Carinat Sports Marketing, are one of many groups to log formal expressions of interest with New Zealand Rugby as the local governing body attempts to stitch together an eight-to-10 team tournament from next year.

    The Herald understands the Dragons are one of four separate proposals New Zealand Rugby has received for the potential Pacific Island franchise alone.

    Others include the Tracy Atiga-led Kanaloa Hawai'i, an Auckland-based group led by former Samoan lock Mark Birtwistle, while the Fijian Rugby Union is also understood to have expressed interest.

    The Dragons' bid would see them stage matches in Auckland and Singapore and they have support from Pacific Island figures including Fiji's Nemani Nadolo, Samoa's Tusi Pisi and Tonga's Nili Latu. Other than their Pacific connection, the Dragons believe they can help unlock the lucrative Asian market.

    Former Highlanders loose forward turned Dragons director of rugby Hale T-Pole, who is also the Pacific Island Rugby Players' chairman, said the Pacific national teams - Tonga, Fiji and Samoa - deserve this opportunity to gain a foothold in Super Rugby.

    "Everyone keeps talking about helping, but the reality is the national teams have only slipped back further in world rankings. That isn't right and it's at the detriment to all genuine rugby lovers," T-Pole told the Herald.

    "Auckland is the most logical 'home' base, not only due to having the community that will benefit the most but also logistically as we have a strong presence and following throughout Asia - a market we see important in growing the game. We would therefore plan to have some of our matches throughout the region.

    "Covid has enforced the realities that the Super Rugby model wasn't working or as commercially successful as was needed. We are now living in a new world with new opportunities, and new thinking.

    "NZR and Rugby Australia needs to re-think and actually change their approach to working with private entities such as ourselves and people like Andrew Forrest. We've demonstrated that private investment in rugby is a good thing, and it is a necessity for professional rugby to survive and thrive."

    The Dragons formed in 2011 and first competed against the likes of the World XV and English giants Saracens. In various exhibition matches, they have been coached by Tana Umaga and Pat Lam. Last year they competed in Global Rapid Rugby, the tournament established by western Australian businessman Andrew Forrest following the Force's axing from Super Rugby.

    Given New Zealand Rugby's concerns about the competitiveness of the five existing Australian sides against the strength of Kiwi opposition, the Dragons' one win from four matches in Global Rapid Rugby could prove a difficult sell, but they appear confident their proposal is attractive, realistic and allows time to attract talent.

    T-Pole acknowledged even without Covid there is no chance to have a sustainable commercial programme in place by January 2021, let alone a competitive squad to take on the quality of sides in a Super competition.

    "Therefore our proposal is for a 2022 entry which allows everyone time to ensure recruitment, commercial preparations and all aspects are successful.

    "We also feel that as the only bid that can realistically bring the Asian market to the competition right out of blocks, we open up that potential. We cannot see another NZ-based team being commercially sustainable if NZ is the core commercial market.

    "The other five brands already find themselves in an extremely cluttered market so we feel any new entrant team must bring a major expansion market with them to be sustainable, but also bring value to the competition."

    Six years ago, the Dragons missed out in their first bid to join Super Rugby with Sanzaar instead preferring the rushed, and ultimately ill-fated, Tokyo-based Sunwolves entry.

    "We believe it is six years of learning for everyone, not just ourselves. And that was the crux of our initial discussions with NZR before making the submission. The key takeaway is patience, and giving yourself enough time to build the success.

    "This new entrant must ensure it is competitive and bring commercial value to help build the best rugby competition in the world. This should be the mission for the new competition. A strong and successful Pacific Island team, with Pacific national team qualified players, will do wonders for their performances."

    Paywalled: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rugby/new...ectid=12356524

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    I'm sure a Rugby Australia Draft would look like:

    NSW: Picks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29
    QLD Picks: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30

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    Veteran valzc's Avatar
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    So where does that leave GRR setup - are the Dragons pulling out of GRR? I’m hoping GRR gets back up & running even if its on hold till COVID gets sorted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by valzc View Post
    So where does that leave GRR setup - are the Dragons pulling out of GRR? I’m hoping GRR gets back up & running even if its on hold till COVID gets sorted.
    The APDs out of Singapore had already pulled out of GRR and weren't in the 2020 draw. The Valke backed Malaysia side is also now gone. The three core teams were always Latui, Tigers and Force. Player groups from these will continue on in some form but how it happens, who knows?

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