Field Theory by Hadyn Green

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Field Theory: When First is Worst

21 Responses

  • Tom Semmens,

    I saw Steve Tew being interviewed on telly the other night, and the sums of money he was talking about to keep the ANZC viable were actually quite small - about four million a year.

    If we were to give the Japanese the RWC and stick the 200 million or so the government are going to end putting into it in the bank, the interest alone would mean the NZRFU could can the Super 14 and have a fantastic two tier provincial championship.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I have some great colour slides (now jpegs) of my family being gleeful the last time Southland won the Ranfurly Shield - my grandparents even travelled to Taranaki to support the Southland team (who, um, lost the Shield again after one game). My grandfather, now perilously close to 91 years old, will no doubt tell me the story again when I visit him on Sunday. Bless.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    That is the beauty of the provincial championship--you can support other, geographically distant teams. Waikato have been a bit fragile (and often disappointing) this year but might sneak into the semis, especially if Alan De M leads the way.

    When I was just a sprout, my dad took me to all the RS matches when Taranaki held it for stretch. I don't think the Shield has the same significance in 2009, but it is good to think that Southland might have it for a while.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    Nothing wrong with cutting the numbers from 14 to 10 per se.

    It’s the disingenuous way they’re going about it that’s the problem.

    In 99% of competitions around the world they use the novel concept of the bottom teams going down. Leaving nothing to the shadowy hand of a central organisation with metrics that are impossible to measure.

    Is that Science or Maths?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    That is the beauty of the provincial championship--you can support other, geographically distant teams.

    What's the line: I support Waikato and anyone playing Canterbury?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    In my opinion what made the competition so good this year could be seen last night: the All Blacks not being removed. Look at the performance of Wellington, Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury when their top players were taken away (or not played). Suddenly league-wide parity was achieved. Some teams were able to build on this (Southland) others fell back after a while (Bay of Plenty).

    Yes unfortunately HB struck Canterbury on the wrong weekend. If they had played last night's team then the result would have been very differenent and we would not be relying on other team's (mis)fortunes and mathematical equations.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Steve Tew being interviewed

    I wince every time I see and hear that man being interviewed. He has an over-whelming propensity for speaking managementese and gobbledegook to such an extent that he makes David Brent look reasonable.

    He cannot complete a sentence without inserting "going forward, "moving on", etc, into a sentence. He really is hopeless.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    I think for me there are a few disappointing things about culling the Premier Division.

    1) They're basing their decision on the last 3 years of the competition, when it would seem that its only this year that teams have found the right balance in spending etc. Teams like B.o.P, Manawatu & Tasman are coming out of the fiscal hole they dug themselves now only to potentially get flung back into it when they get dropped and lose the resulting revenue.

    2) A large part of the decision to drop the teams is that with 14 they can't fit the competition into the 11-13 week window they have allocated. Why is it such a short window? Because of the expansion of the Super 15. Many people question both the merits of that decision, and that competition. What is going to happen if (or when) the expansion only furthers the problems already being experienced in Super rugby - lower viewership, poorer attendance at games? And when the franchises barely play one game a season outside of their base city, what is going to be done to give the people in the regions a reason to care about the Super 15 teams?

    3) What exactly is going to the be the point of a 6 team First Division? How is that going to be sustainable, and who is going to watch it and thus pay for it? My bet is that after one or perhaps two seasons they will all drop down to a revamped Heartland competition.

    4) Will cutting 4 teams even save much money? If you drop 4 teams thats probably 25-30000 less people paying to see Premier Division in person, and with no team to support will the people in those regions even bother to watch it on TV?

    Oh also, the suppressed conspiracy theorist in me thinks that the Canterbury boffins are going to swing it so that Tasman gets to stay and each Super franchise gets two teams in the Premier division - this means that if you accept the conventional wisdom that Northland, Counties-Manukau & Manawatu are the others under threat then potentially either Hawkes Bay or Taranaki will be axed. Clearly i'm getting severely paranoid :-D

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Lets be honest.

    The rugby is awful, the talent too watered down, the mediocre players paid too much. Many of these guys are second division footballers on a good day and the first division of historically the best rugby playing nation in the world deserves more than a competition that operates as a charity to crap rugby players.

    South Africa, current world champions and number one ranked team in the world have a first division of eight teams and we want to stick with 14.

    Seriously, get off the grass or stop smoking it.

    We had nine teams in our first division when we had ALL our top players and now that we have probably close to fifty players in Europe and Japan and 30 or so ABs out for most of the comp we want to watch 14 teams spread the remaining talent?

    Look at the crowd at the Waikato v Auckland game tonight. 10 years ago that would have been three quarters or more full now it's lucky to have 3 or 4000 regardless of what bogus figure Waikato and the NZRU make up.

    8 teams, the top 5 represent NZ in a watered down Super 14 (same rules for SA and Aussie) and bring back real tours.

    You heard it here first second and third.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    Today the whole of Hawkes Bay says thank you Auckland. But only for a day.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Thanks Auckland! We thrashed you by almost fifty and still do us a favour at the end of the season.

    Hawke's Bay are peaking at the right end of the season and I, for one, am smacking my lips at the chance to humiliate an All-Blackless Canterbury at home in the semi-finals before taking the final off Wellington - a team we Magpie supporters have unfinished business with after they beat us in round robbin play.

    The problem was never really that the competition should be less than fourteen teams - ten or twelve or whatever. The problem was always that the NZRFU never had the balls to simply say "If you finish in positions eleven to fourteen on the points table at the end of the 2009 ANZC, you will be relegated."

    Instead, they prevaricated and jacked up a system to ensure than none of the big cities miss out. My view has always been that if you can't, say, get 5,000 fans to Albany then why should Bay of Plenty who get 10,000 to every game be relegated?

    Look at the crowd at the Waikato v Auckland game tonight. 10 years ago that would have been three quarters or more full now it's lucky to have 3 or 4000 regardless of what bogus figure Waikato and the NZRU make up.

    Yamis - Your thinking reflects what the NZRFU thinks, and to my mind it is hopelessly out of touch with the realities of NZ rugby traditions and culture. The game might be suffering in the massively over-exposed rugby markets of the main centres, but it isn't in the provinces.

    To me, the best solution to poor crowds in Albany (for example) is to relegate North Harbour and give them all a shock. Either they'll care enough to do something about it or they won't.

    Same with the worst performing Super 14 team. Three super franchise bases - Auckland, Waikato and Otago - finsihed out of the top four ANZC teams. My solution to this lack of performance would be simple. The top finishing non-super team (Southland) would replace the worst performing Super team (Otago) as the Franchise holder for 2010, and ditto for 2011 if necessary.

    Next season there would be no Highlanders playing unenthusiastic rugby to a near empty stadium, but instead a well reinforced Stag's team playing in front of ecstatic packed houses in Invercargill, hell - they could even generously play a game to Dunedin, if Otago begged enough.

    The Stags may well still finish last of the NZ teams, but that wouldn't be any worse than the Highlanders would it? And in the process, a real incentive for doing well in the ANZC would have been created, a lot more people would have had fun and a clear message would have been sent to the other far, far to smug and complacent Super Franchise holders.

    The base, the fans who actually care, are sending a clear signal. They would rather watch a "low quality" encounter where Southland beat Canterbury 9-3 in a Ranfurly shield in the rain at night in winter in a game played at a building site and then celebrate wildly and in person with THEIR team than watch "entertaining" pajama rugby between teams made up of remote genetic freaks on a balmy February evening. They would rather engage in wild triumphalism when Zac Guilford scores against Canterbury and rail on talkback against the linesman who denied "our" boys "their" try than remotely cheer on Colin Cooper's designer also-rans.

    For ten years the NZRFU has hoped that people would stop supporting Southland and start supporting the Highlanders, or stop supporting Hawke's Bay and start supporting the Hurricanes. But NZ rugby is built on rampant parochialism and ferocious group loyalty to the province - often, and proudly, to the detriment of New Zealand rugby. These fans are not stupid, and they'll be buggered if they give up those traditions and identifications to please a bunch of Wellington based rugby bureaucrats. Worryingly, the NZFRU's nonplussed and uncomprehending response appears to be little more than to say "Fuck you, take your medicine and like it, we know what is best for you."

    The provinces will never support the Super teams, and if the NZRFU can't see that particular wood for the trees of the All Blacks and the bottom line, then they are heading for a first class disaster where their jaded big city rollers can't be bothered turning up and the alienated provincial heartland won't turn up.

    The low crowd numbers for the Super 14 next season will cause a financial crisis for the NZRFU - you heard it here first.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    Mr Semmens sir, I couldn't agree more.

    The priorities are pretty weird when you think about it.

    Super 14/5 - 5 NZ teams, loses NZRU $3m annually (ok, I have no reference to back that up, its just what I read somewhere else, possibly dropkicks.co.nz). Gets expanded to 8 games against the other NZ teams in already over saturated markets and then 10 other games before the semis.

    AirNZ Cup - 14 teams, also loses $3m annually, but from what I can tell has had growing crowds this year in the provinces, but not the over-saturated Super 14/5 bases. Gets cut back to 10 teams and an 11 week competition. With a daft system picking the 4 teams to be dropped and no decent competition for them to go to.

    As for the quality of the rugby - I don't think its actually that bad, and to be honest if you look at the Northern Hemisphere its not the quality of the game on the paddock that makes it so successful, its the quality of the actual competition.

    Weirdly given the above, i'm more in favour of dropping 6 teams than 4 and creating a proper 2nd division of 8 teams with automatic promotion relegation of 2 teams every year. As the NZRU i'd demand all 4 premier division games be televised, and a minimum of two thirds of all 2nd division.

    I'd make both full home & away leagues, with the top 5 Premier teams getting the Super slots for the next year and no stupid finals at all.

    Unfortunately it all appears to be a done deal and all my moaning on the internets isn't going to help :-(

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Yamis - Your thinking reflects what the NZRFU thinks, and to my mind it is hopelessly out of touch with the realities of NZ rugby traditions and culture. The game might be suffering in the massively over-exposed rugby markets of the main centres, but it isn't in the provinces.

    Tom, if I ever start speaking for the NZRU put a bullet in my head.

    Here.

    Here.

    And here.

    The current Air New Zealand Cup is about as traditional as the internet.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Instead, they prevaricated and jacked up a system to ensure than none of the big cities miss out. My view has always been that if you can't, say, get 5,000 fans to Albany then why should Bay of Plenty who get 10,000 to every game be relegated?

    The BOP averaged 7,583 (4700, 5000, 12000, 10000, 6700, ???? v HB, 7100) this year but if you want to make shit up who's to stop you?

    But I'm in 100% agreement on the other part. The bottom 4 should go down town platinum hits. I'm an Aucklander through and through but from the word and whistle go I've been prepared to accept them in the second division if they finished in the bottom 4 (ha, I actually thought they were well on their way this year but they've played gutsy footie for a fairly talentless bunch).

    The NZRU has dropped the ball, spilled it forward, been caught offside, stiff armed the halfback, talked back and missed the conversion from in front.

    The decision to come up with some ridiculous formula is beyond amateur hour. It's even thicker than something you'd expect from parliament.

    There are two criteria that are of interest to professional sport.

    1) You can pay your way.

    2) You are not the worst team in the comp.

    On that criteria there would be a fair few more than 4 relegated.

    I look forward to seeing Canterbury in the Heartland comp next year.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Weirdly given the above, i'm more in favour of dropping 6 teams than 4 and creating a proper 2nd division of 8 teams with automatic promotion relegation of 2 teams every year. As the NZRU i'd demand all 4 premier division games be televised, and a minimum of two thirds of all 2nd division.

    Jimmy, that's exactly what I reckon is the way to go.

    an 8 team comp like the world champion south africans have.

    And a televised second division given we would now only have 4 games in the first division each week. Just pick the two biggest matches each week and show them live and show a third delayed and highlights of the others.

    Out of interest the state service of secrecy seemed to stop releasing crowd figures around week 8 so the following on the season averages are based on released figures in the first 8 weeks plus a handful from the follwing weeks.

    Hawkes Bay 11739
    Wellington 11558
    Canterbury 10940
    Waikato 9833
    Manawatu 7875
    Southland 7617
    Bay of Plenty 7583
    Auckland 7230
    Otago 6000 (speights mate, yeah right, more like 500)
    Taranaki 5216
    Tasman 5067
    North Harbour 4750 (thanks to 3000 who turned up for the NH secondary schools final who left straight after that game - I was one of them and I witnessed the rest leaving promptly)
    Northland 4375
    Counties 3887 (if you like ghosts go live in Pukekohe as there are clearly a lot of ghosts in the region)

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Naly D,

    It's been so good to support a union which could not possibly have been relegated [Lions] so I can see the misinformation and bickering going on between unions and fans.

    First off:

    Teams like B.o.P, Manawatu & Tasman are coming out of the fiscal hole they dug themselves now only to potentially get flung back into it when they get dropped and lose the resulting revenue.

    Manawatu haven't made a loss - they've signed young players on basic salaries and developed them through the academy at Massey, and saved the surplus [according to Jason O'Halloran]. About the only time they splashed out was on that really good Argentine fullback in the first two seasons.

    In 99% of competitions around the world they use the novel concept of the bottom teams going down. Leaving nothing to the shadowy hand of a central organisation with metrics that are impossible to measure.

    So if Manawatu, Harbour, Northland and Counties go down, what will be the issue? What would have happened if three teams had finished 4th last, is it fair to go to points differential in that instance?

    While I think there are positive arguments to the 'oh just relegate the last four teams' there are bigger ramifications which need to be considered. If Tasman, Otago and Southland had been in the bottom 4, you'd have one final ANZC team for the whole of the SI. Likewise if Northland, Counties, Harbour and Auckland were gone.

    The NZRU were damned from the start once they decided to cut back the teams. If they'd said from the beginning they were going to cut the top four there would have been cries of 'oh that's unfair, teams have poor seasons all the time that don't reflect their potential' 'why should we be penalised for one season out-of-the-ordinary?' and 'you're not considering the loyalty of our fans!' Not to mention that some teams, despite how it looks on paper, have been pretty damn competitive. Go back and watch the Counties game against the Bay, or the first half against Canterbury.

    In my opinion what made the competition so good this year could be seen last night: the All Blacks not being removed.

    Do you meant "the All Blacks <i><b>being</b></i> removed."?

    And I still stick by my picks for the ANZC

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 307 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    Manawatu haven't made a loss - they've signed young players on basic salaries and developed them through the academy at Massey, and saved the surplus [according to Jason O'Halloran].

    Weird, given others are making big losses why are Manawatu at threat then? Hasn't Canterbury lost $700k this year?

    More and more I realise that my angst about the cull is that there's nothing for them below Premier division. I really can't see a 6 team competition being interesting or sustainable.

    This is why i'm so keen on 8 & 8 as I think it really does solve all the bigger issues:
    1) Gives meaning to the next tier down - and as long as 2 games are live, one delayed means people can follow it.
    2) Means the 2nd division unions can run on a semi-professional basis as there's still some money coming in.
    3) Can easily fit into an 11 week window.
    4) You can even have TMO for the Premier & not the lower divisions which would save a bit of moaning from munters in Napier.

    Another thing which I think is critical is that the NZRU has to develop a proper transfer system - if a province put cash in and developed a player, and then Canterbury, Wellington or Auckland want to sign them up, then they ought to pay some money to compensate them.

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Naly D,

    Another thing - the ANZC final last year was the lowest-scoring provincial final ever, right?

    So was this shield match the lowest scoring shield match ever? Or was it the lowest scoring shield match where the defender has lost the log o' wood?

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 307 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    This is why i'm so keen on 8 & 8 as I think it really does solve all the bigger issues:

    I do like that suggestion. Currently any team that goes down will struggle to make it back up because they'll be moving down to an amateur division.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Naly D,

    I do like that suggestion. Currently any team that goes down will struggle to make it back up because they'll be moving down to an amateur division.

    The rumours coming from the NZRU office [unsubstantiated at this stage] suggest the top-tier of ANZC is to have its salary cap lowered dramatically to $800,000 and the second div will have a cap of $600,000, to make it easier for teams to move between the two.

    This is all scuttlebutt of course, so I'm not claiming it's accurate. But that could work, I think.

    There is always Hadyn's model for the competition, of course.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2008 • 307 posts Report Reply

  • LegBreak,

    So was this shield match the lowest scoring shield match ever? Or was it the lowest scoring shield match where the defender has lost the log o' wood?

    In the 1950s a score-line of 9-3 would be considered a bit of a blow-out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report Reply

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