Today, children, we are going to do an experiment. But first:
…take a look at this crowd. That should keep those [people] who say rugby is "dead in the provinces" quiet…
That was Grant Nisbett talking about the massive crowd that packed in to Yarrows Stadium in New Plymouth to watch the All Black take on Samoa. Why should you, as did, instantly call "Bullshit" on his claim?
Perhaps because this is the first ever All Black match to be played in New Plymouth. I suggest that before declaring the resurgence of rugby-love in "the provinces" we look at the gate takings of provincial level games.
But if you were looking to make people like rugby then this
exhibition match friendly <ahref="http://www.rugbymuseum.co.nz/teamsheet.asp?level1=All_Blacks&Level2=ABC&MT_ID=2159" target="_blank">test was definitely the event to show. It was like the Harlem Globetrotters were in town (barring a couple of very boring periods of scrum resets and phase play). The All Blacks scored 14 tries (and one penalty try) and nearly all of them in some exciting backline move (I assume that Tracey Nelson will have her stats here soon), they racked up a ton (predicted by both myself and Ian Smith, thank you), and they did most of it smiling.
The final score was 101-14, but on the Dropkicks alternative score board it was Samoa 39, Māori 15, Australia 5, Everyone else 56 (which was decided upon after Muliaina's opening try when the commentators predictably yelled "born in Samoa!")
I want to get on to something else so I'm just going to give you a run down of the team as compiled by my friend Dom and me via email this morning:
- Nonu was a horse's arse.
- Boric was invisible and not in a good way.
- Lauaki is a liability and should never play for the All Blacks again
- So'oialo doesn't play well when he's the captain (or when he's being stymied by cheats at the scrum)
- Tialata is s l o w but it still takes the pretty strong commitment of 3-4 defenders to stop the bulldozer.
- Weepu was good
- Ali was having fun and I liked that
- Tuitavake finally looked like an All Black-level player and took a knock to the head
- I think we finally saw just how good Toeava could be. Leave him to simmer for a few more years though. No blinding hurry.
- Adam Thompson is lightening frickin quick. Holy balls.
- Donald's obsession with chip kicking is starting to pish me off.
- I think the main thing we can take from this is that we have All Blacks who should play against top teams. And All Blacks who should play against second tier teams. There is an overlap but at some "skill positions" we can afford to change players in and out.
- We also seem to have once again have an embarrassment of riches at wing. Sivivatu is class, Kahui appears to be the first major conversion of a position player, since Tana Umaga, to have actually worked (and only the third overall after Umaga and Michael Jones – and maybe when they moved Lomu from number 8 to wing but that doesn't really count as it was not at test level), Tuitavake and Wulf both look solid, Joe is itching to get back into it and is all class, and a bigger stronger, faster version of Rico Gear, namely his brother is sitting waiting (pardon the pun) in the wings for his opportunity.
So on to my actual topic: How do we "fix" rugby?
There does seem to be a general apathy towards the Air New Zealand Cup, with the only time people took a strong interest being when Northland and Tasman were cut. And I know that from the discussions in the System that I am not the only one who thinks that the "Powers That Be" in the NZRU need to display some testicular (or the female equivalent) fortitude.
So, to our experiment!
We are the public; we are the consumer group that the NZRU needs to convince to watch rugby. How can the system be changed so that more people are interested in and entertained by the game?
Over at the Dropkicks I held forth with my draft policy document for the NZRU to consider. However, I am but one man (as far as I am aware). You, on the other hand, number in the thousands (or at the very least the twos).
So Hivemind, get to it in the discussion. You can use my rather communist revenue sharing plan or create your own rugby utopia (or Frutopia, that one's for Emma) but eventually I want to be able to be able to present the plan to the NZRU as a "for fans, by fans" approach. And remember, there are no wrong answers.
Oh, and if you don't like rugby: first of all, thanks for reading down this far; second, please leave your suggestions too as you are an "uncaptured demographic".