Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rugby has a problem

24 Responses

  • Andrew G,

    I watched the Phoenix on the weekend too, and the quality on display there has improved markedly over the seasons. Then I watched some of the Blues game and couldn't stay awake through the endless scrum resets. They really need to address that part of the game before Sky start inserting ad breaks over them.

    Napier • Since Mar 2007 • 53 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Proud scrum…

    I’m not sure I’ll bother going to a rugby game this year – and this is the game I’ve followed nearly all my life.

    …and this is the changing paradigm within which the Government wants us ratepayers to build a new (possibly covered) stadium in Chchch!

    Let Rupert Murdoch build it, I say.

    Well truly no one should build it – it will be a three block deadzone in a city struggling for coherence and purpose.

    Our change management needs changing!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    For those of us south of the Bombay Hills, there is considerable schadenfraude at the Blues' form in recent years. However, as Highlanders fan, I know all too well the pain of supporting a struggling team. But Blues' fans also know what it's like to support a good team, so should at least appreciate that the Highlanders are having a decent spell since Jamie Joseph became coach.

    The Blues' problems can be summed up in two words: John Kirwan. He is clearly a very dedicated coach and means well. However he is the epitome of someone who was an outstanding player, but a poor coach, as per Graeme Mourie, David Kirk and John Mitchell as basic examples. (This happens in all sports, not just rugby, too).
    He is there on reputation and not form.

    As for Steve Hansen's whining, all I can say is "pot, kettle, black" given he happily coached the Crusaders to bore opposition to death and slowing down the ball before becoming Graeme Henry's deputy.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Chopper,

    I've given up on rugby. Every time I go to a game, they fill EVERY stoppage with a short burst of music. It's as if they don't want to give fans the opportunity to think "Hey, this is nowhere near as good as I thought it would be".

    I live in Melbourne now, and the range of sports on offer in this city far surpasses the ability of rugby to entertain.

    And yes, if rugby is so great, then why do we need yet another plethora of rule changes each year? What other sport changes the rules so often? It's truly crazy.

    Since Jul 2008 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    I think to be fair, many recent Blues coaches have encountered the same difficulties with the Blues, as Russell aptly wrote above,

    who are like some sort of experiment in making the least of talent.

    I regret I cannot recall engaging much with their games last year either.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Darel Hall,

    Once the Conference system came in they lost me. It isn't a comp. where every team has a reasonably equal chance, so what's the point?

    Also, it's OK supporting a losing team that puts everything into attempting to win. It's even more OK when you can identify with the players because some of them are from the area or are putting something into the community. The anonymity of many players and their interchangeable nature and loyalties is epitomized by the use of the word "cattle" to describe teams by some of the blokey jocks on Radio Sport.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2012 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Trevor Nicholls,

    Super rugby has three main problems.
    1. It's a franchise, not a competition between regions.
    2. It was created to help fill more of the year with rugby so it's a winter sport being played in the late summer.
    3. It's basically run to generate money through the TV networks.

    Wellington, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Wonder what sport will be like in 150 yrs...., wonder what society will be like in 150 yrs

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Ity must be tough to be a Blues supporter at the moment but I'll put my hand up... I'm still a fervent rugby supporter. It's the only sport I really watch in earnest, although I did catch the end of the last Breakers game which was a thriller. And I turned on the last hour of the NZ v AU cricket, purely for patriotic reasons.

    While there's a plethora of sport on TV these days, Super Rugby still has its moments as anyone who watched the Chiefs demolish the Crusaders 40-16 recently. It was like the Chiefs had been given ritalin, so great was their focus and determination. It was an excellent game to watch.

    So with some trepidation I sat down to watch my team -- the Highlanders -- take on the Chiefs at Waikato on Saturday. And what a game it turned out to be! Against all odds and despite a yellow card and two rather harsh penalty tries going against us, we actually won the bloody thing by 23-17. It helped that Cruden lost his mojo for the night, but the game's only real try from Patrick Osborne was a moment of pure rugby greatness.

    Yes, there is far too much sport being televised these days... but Super Rugby is not quite dead in the water yet.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1434 posts Report Reply

  • Jon Briggs,

    I used to be a mad super rugby fan.

    I lost interest after we finally won the WC. After the release of anxiety and stress built up over 20 years, who can care about a game of super rugby?

    [the answer, obviously, is loads of people just not me]

    Since Dec 2008 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I guess if rugby's boring here, it must be even more dull in all the other countries who can never beat us.
    The main thing that keeps it going in England is that it's the sport of choice for posh people who wouldn't descend to attending a soccer game. Even there, with season ticket prices in the $5k range the chances of a prole-free stadium are on the rise.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    The Blues have had around seven coaches in the last 15 years. No one can coach effectively in what has become the least professional of the NZ franchises. It is corrupt organisation, if you define corruption as riddled with patronage, nepotism, jobs for the boys, and elitism of the unearned sort. Take the Blue’s “Auckland Rugby’s High Performance Academy” AKA talent spotting and recruitment. It has been a miserable failure for years (Fekitoa, anyone?), yet key staff keep their jobs without quibble presumably because they are old boys of the right schools and they needed a job back in the day. Any decent organisation with the Blues money buying power would have fired the lot of them years ago and head-hunted a decent NRL guy for the job.

    Personally, I don’t think there is much wrong with the game. There is just to much of it, and familiarity is breeding contempt. When I was a wee lad, the representative season started around Queen’s Birthday, you were lucky if the All Blacks played four home games and everyone started breaking out the summer sports gear after Labour Weekend. People were gagging for some rep footy by June, and keenly looking forward to next year by Xmas. Nowadays, in NZ rugby is massively over-exposed, going for about ten months most years. No one is interested in rugby in February, especially in 2015’s endless golden summer, world cup year, and when the last season only ended just before Xmas. Add onto that a proper cricket program and the sort of crap the Blues are dishing up and of course no one will go. The problem is the NZRFU needs all the money it can get, or the hollowing out of the player base will just get worse. Personally, I think they are getting close to killing the golden goose with a big drop off in interest in everything except the All Blacks.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    yet key staff keep their jobs without quibble presumably because they are old boys of the right schools and they needed a job back in the day.

    Are the Whetton Brothers still involved?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    There's the odd clip of old amateur-rules rugby on youtube, it's a great game. The primary differences, as my old man would say, is you had to play the game on your feet, and you had to release the ball when tackled, which meant it was very easy to turn the ball over by tackling around the bootlaces, all making the game revolve around placement kicks from open play to more open play, with a lot of sprinting downfield after a kick to keep everyone onside.

    Second phase plays happened only where you could afford to turn the ball over and expect to get it back, deep in their 22.


    The game now is set up to support teams holding possession, so they do, for a dozen rucks or more, which eventually turns into scrums, which turn into lineouts, which turn into another dozen rucks. It's like league, only there's too many people on the field, no quick sideline restarts, and they haven't limited to six phases, yet, so it's worse in every possible way.

    The latest "fix" for that I saw was giving players more space to run past set pieces, like this is league in the 80's or something, without solving the problems that league did back in the 20's to at least get the play moving along and give each team a go with the ball.

    Since Nov 2006 • 609 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    There’s the odd clip of old amateur-rules rugby on youtube, it’s a great game

    Rugby could have evolved in an entirely different direction. It used to be a much, much more kicking game – you could kick out on the full from anywhere and get the territorial advantage AND the throw in! The game was positional, about kicking to using the pack to set up shots at goal. It isn’t to imagine a counter factual where rugby ended up looking a bit like Aussie Rules.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Ethan Tucker,

    Too. Much. Rugby.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • headasunder,

    like a leeming over a cliff I continue to support the Blues, not a happy pastime here in Crusader country. Not having sky I rarely watch any games (I occasionally stream a game).. Yes too much rugby. the last great game I saw was a match at the local park played between two passionate teams of teenagers, full of urgency and cuss words

    christchurch • Since Apr 2012 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Weirdly the British Premier League continues to be great old fun, even if the talent on display is fairly over-rated, while the English national team continues to fade into the worst kind of mediocre rubbish. Kinda the opposite to NZ rugby.

    As a Hurricanes supporter I couldn't be happier (although, as a Hurricanes supporter, I'm expecting the bubble to burst any day now), however I haven't seen any of it either.

    Watched one Crusaders game on Prime. They were shit.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Thorpe,

    There are too many rugby matches with pointless conference structures, and outside the world cup it all turns into a blur, saved in New Zealand's case by a consistently admirable and successful test team.
    There are too many cricket matches with pointless international tournaments and outside some form of world cup it allturns into a blur, saved this year in New Zealand's caseby an admirable ans successful international team.
    Variations on this formula can be repeated on every televised major sport, but the tv demands for sports games/replays/hype for the variously bored consumers on couches with a pack of beer to hand.
    Nobody with any kind ofpassion in life needs any of this stuff.

    Hokianga • Since May 2007 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Bruce Thorpe,

    Nobody with any kind ofpassion in life needs any of this stuff.

    Is that so? I guess I'll just have to go through the rest of my life as a passionless but proud supporter of the Highlanders.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1434 posts Report Reply

  • dcrobertson01, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    A coaches job is to win games. If the rules are such that a particlar style of play increases your teams chances of winning, then that is what you coach and how you play. If the allblacks had lost the world cup, no one would have said at least it was an exciting game. They'd have wanted his head on a plate.

    Since Feb 2014 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to dcrobertson01,

    A coaches job is to win games. If the rules are such that a particlar style of play increases your teams chances of winning, then that is what you coach and how you play.

    Well that doesn't explain why the Blues are on a losing streak. Every other coach in the S15 has to deal with the same rules and most manage to win. So presumably, going from your logic, Kirwan's failed to adapt to the rules and use the considerable talent at his disposal to the Blues' advantage.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    It is corrupt organisation, if you define corruption as riddled with patronage, nepotism, jobs for the boys, and elitism of the unearned sort.

    Back in the mid-90s, a sports reporter told me that the hapless Mark Carter's father was the president / chairman (one or the other) of the ARU. His close mate also just happened to be John Hart...

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • tussock, in reply to dcrobertson01,

    If the allblacks had lost the world cup, no one would have said at least it was an exciting game. They'd have wanted his head on a plate.

    That was nearly the last game of rugby I watched, come to think of it. I did check what they did to fix the issues (of being a bad experience to watch) that it raised, but none of them seemed to fundamentally help.

    I recall a particularly good try by the Italians at the last world cup, and a local commentator noted the All Blacks really should have shut the move down before it got started. Says it all, the bit that was really nice to watch shouldn't even happen if they're all playing the game right.

    Since Nov 2006 • 609 posts Report Reply

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