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What have the Kiwis ever done for us?

The Great Aukster
Pot Hale
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What have the Kiwis ever done for us? Empty What have the Kiwis ever done for us?

Post by Pot Hale Wed 27 Nov 2019, 4:36 am

A New Zealand great, as they say in rugby circles, thinks that the New Zealand Rugby Union should make the big decision and cut South Africa off from Super rugby by dropping the competition and instead build a new comp with Australia and Asia - linking in with Japan, and other moneyed markets.

Andrew Mehrten, or Mehrts, as they originally say in rugby circles, is of the view that the Safaas, lovely blokes as they are, need dropping if NZ Rugby is to survive for the long haul.  It's the time zone, and the whinging by the Saffas that's getting to him, and he thinks that with this bold move, the NZ union can drop their 'no overseas' rule, and allow their test players to play offshore, but still pick them.   Oh and he thinks the Argies should look north and join up with the US, etc.

But, and there's always a but, the offshore players can only go to Japan or other Asian teams.  He wants the NZRU to actively advocate that Kiwis shouldn't go to play in England, France or even Ireland, if they want to be picked for the test team.

So, if Mehrts dream was to come true, and the vast flow of Kiwis to our shores were to suddenly stop, would the European game keel over?  Would the streets be awash with rugby fans, ashen-faced, stumbling blindly, mumbling - I can't believe they've gone, what are we gonna do now?'

In Ireland, out of the 250-odd senior and academy squad players, there are a dozen or so NZ-born players who could suddenly be no more and not be replaced.

In Connacht, 34-year old, Tom McCartney, married to an Irish-passport holding wife, might be having a rejuvenation this season, but there ain't much more in those legs.  And there's a couple of younger Irish fellas coming up behind him getting more game time.
Next to him on the dressing-room bench is Samoan-heritage, Kiwi-born, Bundee Aki, who's had his best shot at a RWC, and turning 30 next year is unlikely to see another one.  The Connacht midfield would definitely be a lot less without him.
Across the shed is the 26 year old, Dom Robertson-McCoy, with an Irish grandparent, and here since 2016.  He can play both sides of the scrum but is on a rolling contract, so they're obviously not that sure.
Their captain, 28-year old, Jarrad Butler, was born Kiwi, but moved to Oz at 13, played Oz Schools and U20s, so we won't count him, but he'd be a big miss if he left.

Down Munster way, Rhys Marshall 27, is living in the shadow of Niall Scannell, but now that's he's residency qualified, he might have hope that Andy Farrell might consider him.  Kevin O'Byrne is his only other rival, so Munster would miss him.
Tyler Bleyendaal is the only other Kiwi on their books, and at 29, residency qualified two years ago, time is not on his side.  With Carbery out again, he's a steady hand on the tiller that they'd like to keep him to the end of his contract in 2021.

Over at Leinster, Jamison Gibson-Park, has been toiling away behind first pick, Luke McGrath, and even though he residency qualified during the summer, he didn't make Joe's RWC list.   Leinster already gave up Nick McCarthy to Munster, and they've another couple of young 9s in the pot, so JGP may be feeling the heat.  His contract is up for review this June, so wait and see.
Michael Bent, turning 34 this season, hasn't got a lot left, and with his Irish grandparent got a couple of test caps. He wants it to last as long as possible, but he knows there are younger Irish props waiting to take his spot.
Then there's James Lowe, 27, who can residency qualify in Nov 2020, if he renews a further contract with the province during this season.  He'd leave a hole that Cullen would find difficult to fill.
Joe Tomane, 29, was also born in NZ, but like Butler, moved to Oz when he was 3.  He also got capped for the Wallabies so he's not in the frame.

And up in Ulster, Sean Reidy, 30, also got a couple of test caps through his Irish grandparents, but that was it, so he's staying put.
Ulster also took on 28 year old, Matt Faddes, from the Highlanders this season, but by a few accounts, isn't making much a name for himself - yet.

There's been some sterling NZ players over the last decade or two, just imagine if your club had to do without them or their successors, if they all headed east instead of north.

Who would your team miss right now?
Pot Hale
Pot Hale

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Post by The Great Aukster Wed 27 Nov 2019, 6:38 am

Mehrtens is ignoring market forces - if players move now for money without the prospect of a cap, why wouldn't they in the future? NZ need players to leave or they could never support the supply chain and that would then stifle the supply in time.

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Post by SecretFly Wed 27 Nov 2019, 9:50 am

Think it's inevitable .... or highly likely then.... that the relationship between New Zealand and Japan will get closer in terms of competitions at club level.  How long that process will be is the question.  But from here, I can't see it as an unnatural consequence of already pretty tight links given the quality of New Zealand players added to the potential investment capability of suitably stirred Japanese interest groups.
I think it might be too elementary an understanding of Mehrten's intentions if you questioned his financing model in light of the continuing attraction of Big Money Europe for NewZealand players.  

I think Merthens might be thinking and hoping not just for increased interest in a combined competition from the Japanese but also, as a direct consequence, increased investment by Japanese interested parties in New Zealand rugby itself.  So I guess his overview includes influencing those market forces by creating a climate within New Zealand itself that might induce more players to remain at home and not suffer financially for doing so.

In my mind such an idea would make sense and perhaps offer New Zealand, in its relatively remote and isolated geographical position, a chance finally to compete on an even playing field with big spending Europe.

If I were a Kiwi living in New Zealand, I'd be more than ready to hear more about his ideas.


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Post by Guest Wed 27 Nov 2019, 11:52 am

Not surprising.

The Kiwis want to be the Kings of Rugby and see their lot lying with the Japanese. Pretty desperate and crazy measures - first they're calling for the Sunwolves to return to Super Rugby, then when they realise the Japanese can create an internal competition that rivals SR, you hear noises like this.

It's naive from Muertens - could be the death knell of NZ rugby. SA'n rugby is closer to NZ rugby than they'd like to admit, and there's real growth potential there at the grassroots and schools level. If they translate that to the national team, with the monetary power they have relative to NZ, it's clear that then becomes an issue for NZ.

Here, they're banking on Brand All Blacks and hoping there's more than just a passing interest among the Japanese middle classes to don a black shirt for 6 weeks during the RWC. It seems naive at best - like the NH's use of SH coaches, ultimately, their hearts and minds lie with their own nation. Japan will do what is right for Japan as and where it can, and that includes its national game.

It seems like NZ want to effectively 'colonise' Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga with its qualification rules of 'All Blacks handdowns' and this is in the same vein - but it's more like a scolding wife desperately trying to get the slightly dopey, older, weatlhy husband to pay for them. Except Japan isn't dopey, and won't be if they enter in to an agreement with NZ, and in the medium term will make sure the symbiosis still means Japan holds the economic power that pairing with NZ brings without giving too much back, as the rest of the world moves on and closes the gap. Be careful what you wish for...

At its very heart it's a stupid, flawed, and desperate idea.

You cannot stop Kiwis coming over and quadrupling their salaries in Europe. You cannot stop them enjoying what Europe has to offer, particularly Britain and Ireland with the language. Japan is still quite a strange place to visit coming from the Anglosphere, let alone live, and you cannot halt freedom of movement this way. You also cannot create enough positions for all the Kiwis who would otherwise go to Europe - nor enough wealth - merely through the presence of a few Japanese clubs. Not in the short term, anyway.

Where is the benefit for NZ players here? A bit more money? NZ/Muertens are expecting Japanese clubs to basically pay for Kiwi talent in the range of what they'd earn in Europe...and in return they'd, what...give Japan their coaching talent...some of their ex-pats and cast offs who qualify via residency?

Not sure if old Muertens has checked, but you've already dealt that hand. Japan already has Kiwi coaches and Pacific Islander players playing for the national team - they used their own financial and research clout to entice them. You can't barter with something you've already 'given' over - as if NZRU is in any position to limit or 'give' those assets over anyway. Strikes me that Muertens doesn't quite get the notion of personal freedom. Seems to be arguing for a collective mindset within NZ - very Marxist of him...or maybe like organised crime...

NZ has come across pretty bigoted during this last few months in terms of the media coverge. Too insular, too 'mafia' esque. Too many manipulative outpourings on how they're 'helping' others of 'protecting' aspects of the game or whatever when the motivations are apparent - it's all about power. Too much whining about referees, and now, inevitably, players going overseas. Had Brad Shields played for England when they smashed them you can guarantee there would be more focus on that - NZers (at least the ones who fill the comment sections, which ofc is never the best/truest indication) really do tend to 'cling' to narratives around rugby that we don't really see in the NH. Too much groupthink. As I said, mafia-esque, all stemming from the apparently untouchable Coach Steve who rarely got his hands dirty, but just did enough to hint at things: he was just as disrespectful and dismissive of the referees as Cheika, but chose a different tone.

The whole idea is flawed. Insularity was clearly a problem in the RWC but - you don't need 'more' of it. You don't stop playing the SA'n franchises and expect to maintain your competitiveness on the national stage. Eddie Jones mocked NZ about rugby not being played in running shorts and he's right - ultimately that did for them in the semi final. Technical talent - which NZ clearly are the world leaders for in rugby - needs competitiveness. The British/Irish mantra has always been less about talent, and more about defensive pressure and mistakes - playing against that is vital. Look at football and teams like Spain and Brazil. Their players benefit from bringing their superior skills to northern Europe, learning 'both' facets of the game.

NZ benefits from keeping its players there but it's the mindset as much as anything else that needs 'globalising' - their approaches to both Ireland and England sums it up. They prepared incorrectly for both. They peaked too soon, based purely on the fact Ireland had beaten them 12 months before, and England lost by the narrowest of margins. They got their tactics wrong and once DMac got injured didn't have a back up plan. You can argue they would be better for Cruden and Sopoaga being in NZ - and that would be fair - but Mo'aga was still better than both. Hansen got things wrong this RWC cycle and that wasn't helped by the fact that they relied on their internal systems. Austrlaia and SA were weak, and when they faced the NZ when it mattered, they lost; once in their own back yard, and then again in the RWC. You don't need more insularity of mindset. The skills and talent in NZ is insane but you also need to be able to mix it up and think global, and that doesn't just mean kicking a drop goal once in a while - it certainly doesn't mean going to smash the sheet out of the Japanese for the next decade/have an internal competition across two continents filled with Kiwi (and Australian) talent, with half of them wearing Japanese club shirts.

This is Brexit-esque - it's Nexit. You don't double down and play it safe and try and get more international control by hopping in to bed with a more financially potent yet structurally weaker (in rugby terms) partner in the hope that all you need is to keep NZ whole and pure. I'm not sure whether NZ'ers would benefit from picking overseas players, but they absolutely 100% have benefitted from having their coaches come North with Henry, Hansen, and likely Gatland as well.

This is a statement/idea based on fear. It sees what the Saffers are doing and fears them as well, puts them in the same boat as Ireland, England, and France. But the solution is desperate and insane.


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Post by Irish Londoner Wed 27 Nov 2019, 12:20 pm

The Great Aukster wrote:Mehrtens is ignoring market forces - if players move now for money without the prospect of a cap, why wouldn't they in the future? NZ need players to leave or they could never support the supply chain and that would then stifle the supply in time.

If anything it would encourage younger players to move north before they are into the system, if you are 17/18 with either possible NH qualification through a relation or are prepared to wait out the five years then a lot would take that option rather than the prospect of being poorly paid and maybe not even getting an AB cap anyway.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Wed 27 Nov 2019, 2:24 pm

Sounds like a well assessed and considered option from Mehrtens. He's clearly a smart guy and being a kiwi legend know rugby better than us mortal folk. Ditch Argentina and South Africa, what have they ever done for NZ rugby and seek out an Austral-asia-NZ super league set up.


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Post by Brendan Thu 28 Nov 2019, 12:40 am

South Africa are the only one of the 4 Nations that allows Super Rugby to be financial possible (though it still loses money.  It would be like running a new European cup without the UK and Ireland.

Australia are having their own issues with Foxtel making massive losses and saying they may not renew.  Add in that their teams are bad on the pitch and worse off it.

Japan can replace the South African money but Australia and New Zealand would be applying to join a Japanese run league rather than creating a new league.  As such Japan could look for things in return such as international matches or travel money.

The only thing that keeps NZ players at home is the AB jersey, if they could play in Japan and still be an AB the NZ super rugby players would move to Japan as would the Oz players.   This would mean that the teams outside Japan would be weak teams so would play infront of even smaller crowds.

South Africa and Argentina would apply to either join the Pro 14 or create their own 10 team league and request admittance into the European Club rugby competitions.  You would assume that the TV/Sponsership money given to Super Rugby from South Africa would be received gratefully by the European teams.

European Rugby is on the up at underage and club/regional level.  CVC must be eyeing up a slice of the European Competition as they already have the Premership, Pro14 and talking to the 6 Nations.  They don't seem to be talking to SR which says it all.

Professional rugby while started in the SH has now been surpassed by the NH.  They get 90% of the players and coaches they want.  In days past Fiji's players would be playing in SR but most seem to be going from Fiji to Europe bypassing SR.

NZ have 5 professional teams who are sinking the union.  Oz has 5 professional teams, 4 are sinking the Union and the 5th hates the Union.  Argentina have 1 professional team funded by WR.  SA have 8 professional teams but are halfing their player numbers so that they can be compeditive.  Total of 19 teams.
You could include Japan but it is debatable if they are professional teams or are teams who have professionals playing in them.  Most squad players are company employees.

France have 30 clubs in the first two divisions. In 17-18 season the T14 average wage was €235k per player. The average wage in the Pro D2 (16 teams) was €65k per player.  How many of the SR teams squad players would be tempted by that cash.
England have 14 teams that pay well (Ealing being the 14th)
Add in the Pro 12 and your total is 56 or nearly 3 times as many.

With so many teams, competitions will always be strong and standards will be constantly pushed.  Toulon won their league then europe, failed in eurole now the league.  Glasgow and Exeter while good at their league are made look average in Europe.  It was mentioned recently that Lyon while top of the T14 feel that Europe is beyond them because they haven't won the Top 14.

I don't know how the SH as it is can push back against the NH but handing over SA to Europe is raising the white flag.  Any new league would needs massive amounts of money and time neither of which OZ or NZ has.


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Post by Old Man Thu 28 Nov 2019, 5:15 am

I would prefer Super Rugby to be cancelled. I would like to see SARU bring Currie Cup rugby to its glory days.

We have 14 Provinces and currently the top talent reside in Sharks, Bulls and Stormers, often filled with 3-4 of the best players in a position which means little game time for number 3 and 4.

I would like to see central contracting by SARU and then a drafting system for spreading the players evenly throughout the squads.

We cannot compete with the. hard currency countries financially whether we have Super Rugby or a lower revenued Currie Cup, so it won’t make a huge difference in the retention of players.

However it will make a big difference having 14 provincial teams compete in one tournament and bring visibility and crowd participation.

All matches televised and Super Sport will bring in more to Currie Cup than what thry currently pay for a devalued afterthought of a Currie Cup.

It will also help to improve transformation of more black and coloured players as all teams compete on the same level and therefor coaches reluctant in the past to compete against overseas franchises with transformation quotas now will have no excuses.

It will also mean in a couple of years as the “previously weaker” teams settle into the 14 team comp it will become more competitive and revenue and sponsors will be on the up.

We are losing players to overseas clubs anyway, Super Rugby has not stopped it.

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Post by Brendan Thu 28 Nov 2019, 8:01 am

As I said above one of the choices for SA is to have their own league and ask to be part of the European Cups

They could go back to the early days of Super Rugby were it was the Currie Cup teams that also played Super Rugby rather than the current franchises.

South Africa bring alot to the table in both terms of playing numbers, viewers and importantly money.  But they do need to play teams outside of SA at Currie Cup level or standards will stagnate.

Being tied to Europe would also help bring in more secure money that is less less likely to weaken the way the Rand has


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