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Pro 16 needs to pull the plug on Premier Sports

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Irish Londoner
y ddraig goch
thebandwagonsociety
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Post by bsando Thu Mar 11, 2021 6:20 pm

First topic message reminder :

Pro 16 needs to pull the plug on Premier Sports - Page 11 Error_10

If the Pro 16 wants to compete with the likes of the other top leagues in Europe and further abroad, they need to part ways with Premier Sports. The current Premier Sports contract with the Pro 14 finishes at the end of this season it still remains to be seen if this will be renewed or another broadcaster will takeover the rights.

Many fans have voiced their dislike of the online platform which after several seasons appears to be stable via Sky or Virgin sports packages but less so as an outright online viewing package. Coupled with annoying multiple login requirements to swap from devices and random lost connection error codes before, during and even when trying to watch on demand matches, it would be a real shame to see the new Pro 16 format begin in this manner.

Do you feel the upcoming Pro 16 competition would be a good addition to BT Sports or Sky Sports or even one of the streaming platforms like Amazon Prime?

Would it be better for a return to the domestic networks in a similar format as before?

Could CVC play a part in this decision with their recent investment in the Pro 14 league and 6N?

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Post by Old Man Fri May 21, 2021 9:12 am

I found this Article on News 24, it was written in July 2018, will give you some idea of what SA players earn

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Post by Old Man Fri May 21, 2021 9:20 am

Here is a recent Article discussing the salary cap in SA rugby

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Post by LordDowlais Fri May 21, 2021 9:32 am

Yes, I get all that Bil, but when your team is competing against teams with endless resources then it gets a little pointless.

Add that to all the other problems attributed to the league, then thats when the resentment starts. Everyone else in the league are just fighting for the scraps that the Irish provinces leave, as they cannot compete with the union run sides.

Hopefully that will change with the introduction of the SA sides, but I just fear that the IRFU will then just put more money into their provinces to keep the status quo.

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Post by BamBam Fri May 21, 2021 9:51 am

Salary caps have been most successful in American sports, where they have adopted a closed league and a revenue sharing model. There isn't anywhere else for top players to go if they feel underpaid as there's no other competitive league where they could make more money.

Its just not a model that I can see working in European sport

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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 9:58 am

thebandwagonsociety wrote:
Pot Hale wrote:This thread is depressing.  

Agreed.
In the long term I wonder if there is any viable competition that can include Irish and Welsh sides?

There isn't.

Competition is immediately made unviable when it allows single ownership of multiple entrants.
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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 9:58 am

Old Man wrote:Listening to you lot is making me think perhaps SA should stay away from the Pro14

Looking at the international schedule for SA, they are doing.
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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 10:01 am

neilthom7 wrote:
The fact that the Irish teams are backed by the IRFU (which owns them btw so you are essentially criticising owners for giving money to their teams) seems to cause a commotion and quite frankly I don't see why. There are only 4 Irish provinces, in order for them to produce the required number of players to make the national team in any way successful they are all needed and so the IRFU helps fund them.  IRFU does not have to run their teams in the exact way you want, there's nothing stopping the Welsh, Scottish etc running their teams the same way.  Also the Irish teams can only sign a limited number of non irish players so it's not like they are out here throwing unlimited money at foreign players.


You don't see the issue of single ownership of multiple entrants? Of opaque finances? Of teams financed beyond their means by an owning body who sees this competition as third (a distant third) in its priorities? Of teams benefitting unequally through the decision of a board that sits at a controlling level above those working daily at those teams?

p.s. the Scots run their teams exactly the same way. That you didn't even know that speaks volumes.
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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 10:02 am

neilthom7 wrote:A salary cap is something that could potentially work but it would have to be really well thought through and I don't know if we can say that is a strong point of the Pro 16.

Too high and nothing really changes, too low and you don't make a better league you just make a few teams worse so you get a more competitive set of rugby from which the standard is much lower.

It needs to be at the crossover point where it makes the league more competitive but forces others to up their games at the same time.

We cannot just sit here and try to make rules etc to control Leinster who have been dominant, we also need to make the other teams better, force them to improve otherwise you are making the league worse rather than better.

How can you have a salary cap with single ownership of multiple entrants and opaque finances?
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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 10:03 am

RiscaGame wrote:The trouble is obviously, is that teams won’t sign up to a cap, because it’ll affect them against some European teams.

It’s a fair point on officiating being difficult, especially now in the Rainbow Cup when they have extra things to worry about. But I also think there have been a few things that a Head of Referees should be on top of. I didn’t know his name/role until Bernard Jackman started complaining about officials in Dragons games mind Very Happy

What teams are you referring to? "Teams" in Ireland and Scotland have no say. That's one of the major reasons why the league is so awful
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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 10:04 am

LordDowlais wrote:Thanks for the reasoned replies guys. OK

The reason why I suggested  a salary cap is because I want to make things a little fairer. We have independent businessmen trying to compete with a whole union who can afford to throw endless money at their teams.

I mean lets take Connacht for example, they are funded way above their means, which is good for them, and good for the IRFU as they have players who can then play for Ireland, but it skews the league, all of a sudden, we have a team who on their own would have less resources than Dragons, but they are given a leg up.

Munster, were operating at a massive loss, have been bailed out by their union, if they were operating within their means, then perhaps we would see a more even keel in the league.

In any other professional sport I do not think the two above scenarios would be allowed. Look what happened to Saracens.

Perhaps more people in Wales would appreciate the league if the teams they are supposed to support had a fairer chance at achieving things, even getting into Europes top competition is monopolised by the Irish provinces, people in Wales are bored with the Welsh regions just trying to survive, never mind competing against a co-oporation that has an endless pot to always turn to. It's AKIN to the oligarchs who run PSG or Chelsea or Man City in football, sometimes people will just say, it's no point.

So when you factor the above into everything else, poor officials, finals always in Ireland, Irish sponsors ect...... then it is little wonder why people here in Wales either hark back to the Welsh league as it was, or pine for an anglo/welsh league.

The problem with this post is that you have no idea of its financial accuracy because of the opaque details involved. You have no idea is "Connacht are funded way above their means" as you have no idea what their means are. Or what their funding is.

Your major point on the financial doping is, of course, spot on.
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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 10:06 am

Old Man wrote:

The main problem with a salary cap across the board for all participating nations in Pro16 is that you will have to introduce a salary cap based on the “poorest” union.

SA salary cap is R60 mil, which in today’s money is three and a half million euros. I am pretty sure the other teams all have caps bigger than that. The Irish will not be keen to lower their caps to 3.5 mill.

It means they will expose their player more to overseas clubs, and might hurt their recruitment of other countries’ player, be it as projects or whatever. This may well impact Scotland teams as well, as they do recruit quite a number.

I personally cannot see salary caps across the board ever working unless those caps increase to the 8 mil mark. Who could afford that anyway?

There are no salary caps in Ireland.

Leinster spend well over €8m a year already, by the way
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Post by LordDowlais Fri May 21, 2021 10:10 am

PhilBB wrote:The problem with this post is that you have no idea of its financial accuracy because of the opaque details involved. You have no idea is "Connacht are funded way above their means" as you have no idea what their means are. Or what their funding is.

Yes I know we do not know anything about the finances, but do you honestly think that Connacht would have the set-up they have now if they were a stand alone club ?

They only average about 5000 people per game, they would be worse than the Italians without the help from their union.

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Post by Old Man Fri May 21, 2021 10:11 am

PhilBB wrote:
Old Man wrote:

The main problem with a salary cap across the board for all participating nations in Pro16 is that you will have to introduce a salary cap based on the “poorest” union.

SA salary cap is R60 mil, which in today’s money is three and a half million euros. I am pretty sure the other teams all have caps bigger than that. The Irish will not be keen to lower their caps to 3.5 mill.

It means they will expose their player more to overseas clubs, and might hurt their recruitment of other countries’ player, be it as projects or whatever. This may well impact Scotland teams as well, as they do recruit quite a number.

I personally cannot see salary caps across the board ever working unless those caps increase to the 8 mil mark. Who could afford that anyway?

There are no salary caps in Ireland.

Leinster spend well over €8m a year already, by the way

Yes I am aware of that, I meant they won’t accept a 3.5 million cap.

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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 11:12 am

LordDowlais wrote:
PhilBB wrote:The problem with this post is that you have no idea of its financial accuracy because of the opaque details involved. You have no idea is "Connacht are funded way above their means" as you have no idea what their means are. Or what their funding is.

Yes I know we do not know anything about the finances, but do you honestly think that Connacht would have the set-up they have now if they were a stand alone club ?

They only average about 5000 people per game, they would be worse than the Italians without the help from their union.

We know the total spend from the IRFU on players and coaches.

What you've ignored from your analysis is any local backing, any benefactors or potential new owners who could (for all we know) grow the game in Connacht. We just don't know any of this because of the structure of Irish rugby (which, of course, goes against the very point of sport).

Connacht are also heavily backed by Government cash: https://www.galwaydaily.com/sport/sportsground-redevelopment-awarded-e20-million/
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Post by neilthom7 Fri May 21, 2021 12:47 pm

I have my reservation on if a salary cap would make the league better (even if we could get everyone to agree to it)

It would most certainly make it more competitive or at least should make it more competitive.

But it wouldn't as I see it make it better but most likely the quality would suffer, if we assume the cap is at the lowest unions wages.

You put in the cap then Leinster for example can't afford to pay all their players so some of those players move on which makes Leinster worse and improves the competitiveness.

However that doesn't improve the other teams in the league since its very unlikely those players would go to other teams in the league (Good to top Irish players for example rarely move abroad to Wales or Scotland but to England or France if they move) but instead move outside the league meaning you lose quality from the league.

It's a very complicated matter without doubt so it's unlikely one solution will work solely on its own.

The fact that we have 5 different unions represented in the league each with differing goals and objectives makes it quite a unique situation from other leagues in terms of getting everyone to agree as well.

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Post by carpet baboon Fri May 21, 2021 1:06 pm

PhilBB wrote:
thebandwagonsociety wrote:
Pot Hale wrote:This thread is depressing.  

Agreed.
In the long term I wonder if there is any viable competition that can include Irish and Welsh sides?

There isn't.

Competition is immediately made unviable when it allows single ownership of multiple entrants.

But where can the Welsh go? The PRL don't want you. Could an all Welsh league work?

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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 1:47 pm

carpet baboon wrote:
PhilBB wrote:
thebandwagonsociety wrote:
Pot Hale wrote:This thread is depressing.  

Agreed.
In the long term I wonder if there is any viable competition that can include Irish and Welsh sides?

There isn't.

Competition is immediately made unviable when it allows single ownership of multiple entrants.

But where can the Welsh go? The PRL don't want you. Could an all Welsh league work?

Nope. An All Welsh league would not work.

If CVC aren't interested in aligning for a Lions league, Welsh pro rugby will continue to shrink with death by a thousand cuts.

Supposedly it is CVC pushing for the lack of relegation from the GP so that may be the first move to the Lions League, or some hybrid with the SA teams. As it stands, it's just a complete mess.
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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 1:54 pm

Have a read of this:

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/welsh-rugby-summit-talks-happening-20649161

That's the situation in Wales where the Chief Exec of the WRU is effectively starving his own supply chain by firstly refusing to pay them for a season, then making them take out a loan to cover the cost of what he was going to pay, and then underpaying them for next season when they have to start paying back the loan

At the same time, this man has spent £26m of WRU money on a hotel in Cardiff City Centre.

The game in Wales is going to hell in a handcart, pushed there by a WRU that has never been fit for purpose in the professional era.

Contrast that with the IRFU who bit into their reserves to continue to pay the players and coaches (even deferred wages rather than cut them) without any of the normal recharge coming from their own internal branch departments.
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Post by carpet baboon Fri May 21, 2021 2:09 pm

PhilBB wrote:
carpet baboon wrote:
PhilBB wrote:
thebandwagonsociety wrote:
Pot Hale wrote:This thread is depressing.  

Agreed.
In the long term I wonder if there is any viable competition that can include Irish and Welsh sides?

There isn't.

Competition is immediately made unviable when it allows single ownership of multiple entrants.

But where can the Welsh go? The PRL don't want you. Could an all Welsh league work?

Nope. An All Welsh league would not work.

If CVC aren't interested in aligning for a Lions league, Welsh pro rugby will continue to shrink with death by a thousand cuts.

Supposedly it is CVC pushing for the lack of relegation from the GP so that may be the first move to the Lions League, or some hybrid with the SA teams. As it stands, it's just a complete mess.

I see a B&I League (with some SA involvement) as CVCs main aim. I can see Ireland Wales and Scotland being for it, but can't see the PRL getting on board.
Covid may make them think about it, but it would it would take some negotiation of biblical proportions to get it to work.

I would also like a salary cap across the pro14, but as others have said getting the balance between too high for most or too low and the best players leave would be hard in one country, getting it to work across multiple, would again take some serious doing.

Ultimately I want the league to be competitive in all matches, so I want the other nations teams to be successful. What grates on me is the accusations (of some not all) that the league has run for the benefit of just the Irish. Mainly as you seem to be saying your own representatives and union and that of the other 2 nations involved have gone out of there way to help Ireland to there own detriment. Which is stupid.

Any way. I hope next year we can see an improvement in everything and maybe, just maybe we can all get along

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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 2:24 pm

carpet baboon wrote:

I see a B&I League (with some SA involvement) as CVCs main aim. I can see Ireland Wales and Scotland being for it, but can't see the PRL getting on board.
Covid may make them think about it, but it would it would take some negotiation of biblical proportions to get it to work.

I would also like a salary cap across the pro14, but as others have said getting the balance between too high for most or too low and the best players leave would be hard in one country, getting it to work across multiple, would again take some serious doing.

Ultimately I want the league to be competitive in all matches, so I want the other nations teams to be successful. What grates on me is the accusations (of some not all) that the league has run for the benefit of just the Irish. Mainly as you seem to be saying your own representatives and union and that of the other 2 nations involved have gone out of there way to help Ireland to there own detriment. Which is stupid.

Any way. I hope next year we can see an improvement in everything and maybe, just maybe we can all get along

I can't see how a Lions League would ever work because of the different ownership models. I can see a conference with an end of season play off nonsense, but that would be about it.

I can't see how a salary cap across three currencies, at least four different tax regimes and with single ownership of multiple entrants would ever be possible.

The league is ultimately run for the benefit of the Irish. That's pretty clear. The Welsh Rugby Union made a huge mistake in 1999 and the game here has paid for it ever since. None of the three founding nations are big enough to go it alone but they only had each other once Pugh and Grififths started the death countdown for Welsh professional rugby. Since then, and all credit to them for doing so, the far more professional and switched on Executive of the IRFU have taken control - to the point where they once threw out the WRU.
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Post by carpet baboon Fri May 21, 2021 2:59 pm

PhilBB wrote:
carpet baboon wrote:

I see a B&I League (with some SA involvement) as CVCs main aim. I can see Ireland Wales and Scotland being for it, but can't see the PRL getting on board.
Covid may make them think about it, but it would it would take some negotiation of biblical proportions to get it to work.

I would also like a salary cap across the pro14, but as others have said getting the balance between too high for most or too low and the best players leave would be hard in one country, getting it to work across multiple, would again take some serious doing.

Ultimately I want the league to be competitive in all matches, so I want the other nations teams to be successful. What grates on me is the accusations (of some not all) that the league has run for the benefit of just the Irish. Mainly as you seem to be saying your own representatives and union and that of the other 2 nations involved have gone out of there way to help Ireland to there own detriment. Which is stupid.

Any way. I hope next year we can see an improvement in everything and maybe, just maybe we can all get along

I can't see how a Lions League would ever work because of the different ownership models. I can see a conference with an end of season play off nonsense, but that would be about it.

I can't see how a salary cap across three currencies, at least four different tax regimes and with single ownership of multiple entrants would ever be possible.

The league is ultimately run for the benefit of the Irish. That's pretty clear. The Welsh Rugby Union made a huge mistake in 1999 and the game here has paid for it ever since. None of the three founding nations are big enough to go it alone but they only had each other once Pugh and Grififths started the death countdown for Welsh professional rugby. Since then, and all credit to them for doing so, the far more professional and switched on Executive of the IRFU have taken control - to the point where they once threw out the WRU.

But it's not "ultimately run for the benefit of the Irish" and it's clearly not pretty clear. It's also statements like that which over shadow some of your better points.

As you said the IRFU grasped professionalism better than the WRU (although you will find there treatment of the AIL pretty shocking if you ask me)

But to claim the league is run for "the benefit of the Irish" is absolute rubbish.
Answer me why the other teams gon a long with it? Why do things solely for the Irish and not themselves?
Do the IRFU have compromising photos of hundreds of Welsh Scottish and Italian hierarchy?


Ps just read that article from WOL. I can see why they would want to invest in other revenue streams but not at the cost of the region's, that's insane.
And to lumber them with the loan they took out is pure trumpism.

How do the WRU get elected?

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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 3:06 pm

carpet baboon wrote:

But it's not "ultimately run for the benefit of the Irish" and it's clearly not pretty clear. It's also statements like that which over shadow some of your better points.

As you said the IRFU grasped professionalism better than the WRU (although you will find there treatment of the AIL pretty shocking if you ask me)

But to claim the league is run for "the benefit of the Irish" is absolute rubbish.
Answer me why the other teams gon a long with it? Why do things solely for the Irish and not themselves?
Do the IRFU have compromising photos of hundreds of Welsh Scottish and Italian hierarchy?


Ps just read that article from WOL. I can see why they would want to invest in other revenue streams but not at the cost of the region's, that's insane.
And to lumber them with the loan they took out is pure trumpism.

How do the WRU get elected?

I think many followers of non-Irish teams could provide a ton of evidence ranging from kick off times through to TMO officials to counter your first sentence but, ultimately, it's not really that important. What is clear is that the league doesn't benefit ANY of its constituent Unions.

The Irish have underperformed at international level for a long while compared to their spend whilst they can no longer compete at European level as their players are undercooked and (just like at international level) under prepared. The Scots are celebrating fourth place (or whatever) in a 6N, the Italians are just crap.

I didn't note the IRFU grasped professionalism better. I just noted their Executive was more professional.

Why do other teams go along with it? The only 'teams' who could complain are the three in Wales and one in Italy. Their route of 'complaint' is to their constituent Union who, certainly in the case of Wales, don't give a rat's arse. I have no knowledge of the Italian Union so can't comment on them.

Trumpism is an excellent way to discuss the cult of the WRU Executive (a wisely chosen word but could equally apply if crudely misspelled).

The amateur clubs rule the election to the WRU Board and the Board employs the Executive. It's not fit for purpose at any level.
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Post by carpet baboon Fri May 21, 2021 3:15 pm

PhilBB wrote:
carpet baboon wrote:

But it's not "ultimately run for the benefit of the Irish" and it's clearly not pretty clear. It's also statements like that which over shadow some of your better points.

As you said the IRFU grasped professionalism better than the WRU (although you will find there treatment of the AIL pretty shocking if you ask me)

But to claim the league is run for "the benefit of the Irish" is absolute rubbish.
Answer me why the other teams gon a long with it? Why do things solely for the Irish and not themselves?
Do the IRFU have compromising photos of hundreds of Welsh Scottish and Italian hierarchy?


Ps just read that article from WOL. I can see why they would want to invest in other revenue streams but not at the cost of the region's, that's insane.
And to lumber them with the loan they took out is pure trumpism.

How do the WRU get elected?

I think many followers of non-Irish teams could provide a ton of evidence ranging from kick off times through to TMO officials to counter your first sentence but, ultimately, it's not really that important. What is clear is that the league doesn't benefit ANY of its constituent Unions.

The Irish have underperformed at international level for a long while compared to their spend whilst they can no longer compete at European level as their players are undercooked and (just like at international level) under prepared. The Scots are celebrating fourth place (or whatever) in a 6N, the Italians are just crap.

I didn't note the IRFU grasped professionalism better. I just noted their Executive was more professional.

Why do other teams go along with it? The only 'teams' who could complain are the three in Wales and one in Italy. Their route of 'complaint' is to their constituent Union who, certainly in the case of Wales, don't give a rat's arse. I have no knowledge of the Italian Union so can't comment on them.

Trumpism is an excellent way to discuss the cult of the WRU Executive (a wisely chosen word but could equally apply if crudely misspelled).

The amateur clubs rule the election to the WRU Board and the Board employs the Executive. It's not fit for purpose at any level.

Phil. I get we will never agree on this and fair enough, your passionate about your rugby and I commend that. I could counter about KO times with TV scheduling, and TMOs with there all crap, but I see refs and TMOs as simply human. They make mistakes that our own bias see as obvious.

We both want what's best for our teams, neither of us know what that is, but I hope it comes along soon.
I also hope the next time Ulster play Cardiff at the arms park we stuff you and I'm in the stands having a beer. Will gladly buy you one too

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Post by PhilBB Fri May 21, 2021 3:17 pm

carpet baboon wrote:
Phil. I get we will never agree on this and fair enough, your passionate about your rugby and I commend that. I could counter about KO times with TV scheduling, and TMOs with there all crap, but I see refs and TMOs as simply human. They make mistakes that our own bias see as obvious.

We both want what's best for our teams, neither of us know what that is, but I hope it comes along soon.
I also hope the next time Ulster play Cardiff at the arms park we stuff you and I'm in the stands having a beer. Will gladly buy you one too

Good man. Enjoy your rugby.
PhilBB
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Post by y ddraig goch Fri May 21, 2021 8:16 pm

PhilBB wrote:
y ddraig goch wrote:

The Welsh have basically sacked off the Pro14 since the Ospreys couldn't compete financially anymore. They use it as a way to manage workloads and prepare for the international stage which worked well under Gatland and looks like Pivac is capable of doing the same.

Other than the Scarlets winning it post-Ospreys.

The financial point is, of course, key.

Not really. Scarlets winning doesn't change very much. The Welsh regions have given up competing for the Pro14 as if it is possible to compete to win year on year and it's been that was for nearly a decade. The result of this is a devalued competition and a race to the bottom which ends up hurting everyone involved, including Leinster.

The Scarlets win was a combination of a lot of luck and undervalued talent (like Pivac), coming at a time when Schmidt's Ireland were having a total rebuild post-2015 RWC which impacted the three main Irish provinces that make up the bulk of the national team. Hence Connacht winning in 2016 and the Scarlets in 2017. These are not teams you would expect to win but the hangover from 2015 took the dominance away from the big Irish teams, evening things up for Connacht and the Scarlets to fly in under the radar and snatch unlikely wins. Pat Lam and Pivac are also two highly valued coaches who went on to bigger and better things not long after so it's not as if it's just luck but Scmidt's Irish rebuild played a major factor in Leinster losing both finals (despite finish top of the table) as they were secondary to the work being done at national level, which finally paid off for the IRFU in 2018 (Grand Slam, beat the All Blacks) but they couldn't sustain it through to 2019 as was clearly the intention.

The Scarlets had a poor second half of the 2015/16 season and it carried on for the first few games of 2016/17. In hindsight a lot of that was the growing pains of Pivacball like we've seen with Wales but this didn't start as a realistic plan to win the league. The Scarlets finished third in the table at the end of the season, up from 5th the season before. Their ridiculously good run of form towards the end of the 16/17 season was in many ways an overperformance for the club based on the talent they had acquired for so little monetary outlay.

Recruitment was a big reason for the Scarlets success. Nearly every addition made a positive impact despite being cheap. The new players either came via Pivac's connections (Hadleigh Parkes) or by taking players that were criminally undervalued by their own teams (Beirne, Barclay) and adding them to Welsh stars (Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies). There was no foreign international star in the team like we've seen at Munster, Leinster, and the Ospreys. After their success the squad was quickly dismantled with Beirne being taken back to Ireland, Scott Williams moving to the Ospreys, and Liam Williams going to England. Halfpenny made a huge impact replacing Liam Williams and was a major reason for the Scarlets doing well in 2017/18 but Leinster knew what was coming this time and they dominated them both in the Pro14 final and the semi finals of Europe. Their 18 month run of top form came to an end with those two results and they've never recovered (not helped by losing Pivac and Mooar in quick succession). Connacht suffered similar problems, finishing 8th the season after they won the Pro12.

That isn't the model for a club that thinks it can win season on season or treats its domestic results as vitally important. It's clever, budget conscious recruitment and development that keeps a team competitive and the club's head above water i.e. qualify for the a European Champions Cup, keep producing players for Team Wales. The win was just a very welcome cherry on top. It's not like the win doesn't matter but none of the regions are set up to go out and win the Pro14 which is what my point is. They've given up on that as a realistic ambition because it's impossible to compete with the Irish, in particular Leinster, on anything like an even footing.

This is why it's nonsensical for O'Driscoll to complain about the Pro14 now that it's become clear to him that not only does the Pro14 actually hurt the Irish national team by giving their players a false sense of their abilities but it will also come back and hurt Leinster when the Pro?? can't keep adding team after team and nation after nation in to a competition that Leinster fully intend to keep dominating.

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Post by y ddraig goch Fri May 21, 2021 11:11 pm

Old Man wrote:  (the South African teams aren't going to work)

Unclear what you mean?

Not going to work in what sense?

Good question.

It's my belief that the Pro12/14/16 competition is dead and has been on borrowed time since 2013 when the restructuring of European rugby effectively threw the Italians to the ditch (which is a major reason for their poor Six Nations results since then as they had to rebuild their professional teams from basically scratch). Some might argue it was already in trouble when it first added the Italians as it was a sign of what was to come.

In short, the Pro14 is going through the same lifecycle as Super Rugby. You will know how that went, the positives and the negatives, and adding the Kings & Cheetahs was a bit like adding the Sunwolves. The pandemic really ought to have been the end of the competition, making room for a better, more modern replacement, but the clubs were backed by the European socialised economic policies of their respective national govts that have a duty to maintain these businesses and by passing that debt on the future generations, the competition is still alive and the Pro14 has been able to add 4 more South African sides to the roster.

It is a competition that is severely lacking in prestige, meaning, history, and commercial viability. The English Premiership has had its issues over the last 20 years but eventhough it has struggled with the quality of its teams at times, it has stabilised and since 2013 - the same time the Pro12 started declining, with the rise of Toulon and Saracens replacing Leinster as the best teams in Europe - the addition of foreign talent and the benefit of investing in academies that began 10 years previously meant the Prem became a highly attractive league to watch and play in alike. The Pro14 suffers with poor quality matches, variable competitiveness due to rotation with a view to preparing players for European or international competition, lack of jeopardy or incentive to improve due to no relegation, fans don't travel to away games as it's both expensive and unrewarding, a lack of tradition or 'true' rivalry has limited home attendances, dreadful officiating due to the disparity between nations (in particular Scotland who cannot produce a competent professional referee), and there is no obvious way to either grow the fanbase (the three main countries all have small, not particularly wealthy populations - apart from Dublin) or allow natural selection to take care of changing demographics and ecomonics (i.e. Exeter replacing the likes of Leeds Rhinos in England) due to the enclosed competition and lack of pyramidal progression/regression that was curtailed in Wales and Scotland to produce superclubs for this new competition. All of this creates apathy and a sense of rot which keeps fans, investors, and broadcasters away as they can see the competition has limited growth and entertainment value.

This past year, there have been two competitions which have stood head and shoulders above any of the others and they've done it in almost completely different ways, which shows there is no fixed way to do things successfully. That is the English Prem and NZ's Rugby Aotearoa. The latter is a showcase of the incredible skill and talent that comes from NZ's internally driven competitiveness and desire to stay ahead of the chasing pack by creating and maintaining a self-sufficient and world leading rugby culture at every level but in particular with skills and coaching. The gulf in ability between NZ and Australia has been painful to watch in the trans Tasman games. The English have taken a different approach and it mirrors England's success as a pluralistic yet utilitarian society, mirroring the football Premiership by using the tradition of established and historical club rivalries with a decent number of fans to hire coaching and playing personnel from all over the world while avoiding the issues the French got in to with the Top14 (something they finally addressed when they realised they couldn't survive with a second rate national side). The English Premiership is producing good games of rugby, broadcast on a TV channel (and shown on social media) that many people have for telecommunications, with standards of play that have in some cases probably improved without fans (unlike football, or some other rugby comps i.e. Pro14). As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if the English Prem has won over fans during the past 12 months on the basis that it's producing a good and visible product at a time when people were locked down. Bristol and Exeter are fantastic to watch and showcase how there's more than one way to successfully skin a cat.

The rest are playing catch up to those two. The Top 14 isn't far behind and could surpass the English Premiership, although language is probably their biggest barrier to global domination, but the Australian and SA'n Super Rugby comps were a mixed bag. The Japanese and American leagues are up and coming. The Pro14 is in the awkward middle ground that Australia occupy but without the potential market due to the size of the audience (interest is probably near peaking in Ireland due to a decade of domination despite the league's problems, Italy has big potential but are still a long way off producing two competitive club sides made up of Italian talent). They have an obviously inferior product to their nearest neighbours, with standards, history, and competitiveness clearly second rate, yet there's nowhere obvious to go. There's no clear path to catch up or surpass the competition without joining them.

Another issue is the fact it's such a one-sided competition. Leinster have won 8 out of the 20 titles. Irish teams have won 13 out of those 20. Welsh teams have won 6, most of those coming in the early years immediately after the inception of regional rugby (one since 2012), Scotish clubs have won it once. It didn't start off so one-sided but it has become a competition where one nation and one team are so dominant that interest outside Ireland has withered or failed to generate despite the huge potential to create the equivalent of a Leinster or Exeter out of at least one of the Scottish and Welsh 'superclubs'...if they were in a competition that was as financially solvent as the English Premiership.

The argument for the laissez-faire approach to Leinster's monopoly over the Pro14 is to say 'if you want to beat us, join us'. Basically, do what Leinster and the IRFU do but do it better. That makes some sense until you consider the lack of incentive to do so. Leinster are dominant in large part because Dublin is and was the most profitable territory in the Celtic League. It is an important centre of finance, with 'competitive' corporate taxation and business practices going back to before 2008. It has a wealthy and growing professional population. It also had an established private school network where the system of progression could mirror the likes of England and South Africa in creating a successful and competitive development structure within the education system. The only other 'region' that could have matched this was possibly Cardiff due to its size and tradition, along with their access to a wealthier fanbase and established private schools (as well as traditional working class hubs of rugby talent), but their failure to do so is well documented for a variety of reasons. In many ways, the laissez-faire approach of 'if you want to win, just spend more money' could only end up with Leinster dominating the league as no-one is going to pour money in to Llanelli, Swansea, or Galway unless they are professionally compelled to do so (the Unions) or it is a labour of love (Mike Cuddy) because even the very best potential reward wouldn't be worth it. That's because the competition is dead. It is right on the doorstep of England without having any of the financial benefits that would come from being inside the door - unless you're in Dublin. There's no point for any other current teams to try to compete with Dublin simply because they can't, and even if they could i.e. a wealthy financial benefactor takes over Glasgow or the Scarlets, the benefits would be miniscule as the league has a fairly low ceiling of potential reward. That's why outside investment and a reliable, competitive telecommunications company like Sky, BT, or even someone like Amazon hasn't gone near the Pro14. It's simply not a viable competition as a cross-border league.

Basically, the Pro14 is not where the money, interest, and growth is. There have been regular noises made towards North America by the management of the Pro14 which is testament to the fact that they know they are in a race against time to generate income, grow the audience, and therefore attract greater investment. The race is against England and France but it's also a race to keep homegrown players in their own countries for the benefit of the national teams. Wales in particular has taken the practical decision, in large part through necessity, to sack off the league and regional games (as well as the amateur structures beneath it, which is a major problem) for the sake of bolstering the national team and keeping the stadium full. The issue with this model for the league is you can't just keep adding new teams to the 'Celtic League' without devaluing the competition and that's exactly what has happened. In 2010 (I think) the league introduced a 4 place play off for the championship to maintain interest towards the latter end of the season and produce more money via three knockout fixtures. This seemed to make sense, although it cheapens the league in taking away the prestige of finishing in top spot. When they added the South African teams it changed to a 'conference' system, which destroyed the integrity of the league as in any way sensible. The new system is just more of the same, where teams don't even play each other home and away in a single season. It's an absolute mess in terms of format, incomprehensible for the kind of floating fan the league is trying to attract. To make matters worse, it's also incredibly expensive for professional outfits to be travelling to South Africa, as was the case in Super Rugby. The kick off time isn't an issue but almost every other negative will be carried over from Super Rugby in to the Pro18.

To make matters even worse, the South Africans are either going to go one of two ways. The first is that they end up imitating the Cheetahs, with their most promising players ending up at better teams, namely in France and England. They then settle in as secondary to Leinster, particularly after a few seasons once the novelty wears off and it becomes clear that the league is a step down from Super Rugby and not providing a good base for the Boks to compete with New Zealand at international level (either that, or they leave the Pro project and convince SAANZAR to reform Super Rugby). Not only that, but the South African fans will pick up on the issues mentioned above fairly quickly. On the other hand, the Boks might turn up and dominate, unseating Leinster and creating a 'true' 5-6 team competition that they end up winning fairly regularly. This could have its benefits but the knock on effect for the national teams of Wales, Scotland and Ireland is likely to be a major issue, in particularly for Wales who produce some top talent but lack strength in depth. I can't see how being dominated by the SA'n physicality is going to help Leinster and Ireland's chances in Europe and the international game, either, to be honest. This second outcome effectively parachutes in competition for Leinster and Munster (i.e. the bulk of the Irish national team) while exacerbating all of the issues of competitiveness that the rest of the league experiences. It should be a massive concern for Scotland and Wales. I can't believe they agreed to it in all honesty. If the clubs can no longer offer greater player welfare to their homegrown players v going to play and earn more in England or France, they're going to start losing homegrown players fairly quickly as well. So there's a catch 22 between greater competitiveness and quality of competition in the league v. extending the problems of an already tiered competition with minimal regulation. (I'm not a fan of things like a salary cap by the way. It would be impossible to implement given the difficulties that the Premiership and the RFU have introducing and managing theirs within one territory, one country, set of laws etc. It would be impossible to implement across borders and it would be counter-productive.)

It is nonsensical for the Welsh regions in particular to be playing a domestic competition against South African superclubs when they are within spitting distance of the likes of Bristol, Bath, Worcester, and Sale. It makes very little sense for fans from both nations but in particular for the Welsh. It also makes little sense for the Scottish clubs to not be playing in a UK competition however their own govt's flirtation with independence, and the narrowness of the Remain majority in 2014, means the SRU can at least back up any hesitancy towards a GB competition on the basis that the United Kingdom might not include Scotland in 10 years time. Ulster have their own issues on that front that complicate the matter even further. That's a matter for Ireland and the IRFU. I would have thought the continuity option would be Ulster Rugby doing whatever the rest of Ireland does. In Wales, independence is a fringe movement with little to no chance of happening in the medium term (certainly not before Scottish independence, if that happens). There is a good analogy to be found in football. Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, and Wrexham (and Merthyr) all joined the English league system for the sake of viability (there was no Welsh league). The benefit to these clubs in the present day in comparison to being part of the current Welsh league cannot be overstated. Just taking in to account the last 20 years, Swansea were in the fourth tier of English football in the mid 2000s. The ability to climb the footballing ladder and profit based on good management led them to being one of the most exciting Premier League teams, with a cult following in Spain due to their style of play. If you compare that to the Scottish league, where two of the biggest clubs in the world, Celtic and Rangers, have stayed despite their size and potential for growth, then the difference is stark. Celtic fans could not accept that their manager left to join Leicester in England despite the fact that the only thing Celtic has going for it in comparison is history. Scottish football is quite simply on the wrong side of the line: it is so close to the English game but because it is not part of the Premier League and what that competition offers to a global audience, despite the history and rivalry of the two Glasgow clubs, the outside investment isn't there and it produces a vicious cycle of decline. People get up at 4am in Beijing to watch Man Utd. They pay big money to do so. That means broadcasters pay the Premier League and its clubs, including the 'lesser' teams, a huge amount of money for broadcasting rights, and sponsors pay huge money to have their companies attached to these clubs. That's it, that's basically how simple it is. If you're 'in' that competition then the potential for growth is huge: just look at Man City and the benefit to its owners for developing roots in Manchester at a time of huge regeneration. Look at Leicester at the moment - who knows where they could go. Compare that to Celtic and Rangers and it is a painful reality check for sporting franchises to either go where the money and power is, or be on the outside looking on with envy. That is the exact situation for the Pro14. It is like Scottish Premiership, scratching its head and wondering how it can stop the impossible force that is the English Premiership (and maybe the Top 14 as well) racing away from it and leaving it in dust. The difference is, Scottish football at least offers stability to its two big clubs, something the Pro14 cannot offer (apart from maybe to Leinster). The fact that Leinster still manage to beat most of these teams in Europe is just a temporary reality: eventually, the league will not be able to compete financially, it will not bring in the revenue to pay the unions for rights and sponsorship to the level the union wants, so players will not choose to stay in these leagues, they will go abroad. The unions will have to sanction this if/when the national team starts losing games (as has happened with Scotland, whose improvement comes from allowing their best players to leave Scotland and filling the clubs with good quality, medium value international players from the southern hemisphere). That exodus happened a decade ago in Wales as well and, as I say, everything since then has been an attempt to keep the dead competition alive, running it on fumes and by constantly pumping in new and tenuous short term investment in the hope that the whole thing stumbles from year to year without collapsing. But make no mistake, it is dead in its current form. It cannot sustain both a cross-border competition of minor nations and maintain professional rugby that can compete with the English and French clubs. The gap just gets bigger and bigger over time until the whole thing finally collapses, as per Super Rugby and its loss of supremacy to the Heineken Cup, eventhough the standards in NZ and SA are clearly better than in Europe.

So that's basically what the South Africans have been brought in for. It's an economic approach that mirrors European social policy with regard to constantly trying to inject revenue by adding more and more people to pay for existing services, irrespective of the consequences. Eventually you have to reckon with those consequences and I think the South Africans will themselves be in for a shock when they realise what they've joined. Although maybe they're clear-headed about what they're joining given their own issues over the last 10 years? I don't know. Things were clearly pretty desperate in SA and the RWC masked a lot of major problems. But make no mistake, the move to include the South Africans is entirely driven by and for the Irish provinces and the IRFU to maintain a competition that, by all rights, has failed and is no longer financially viable in its desired format. The reason the Irish are driving it - as evidence by the almost totally Irish-centric broadcasting, which is what this topic is about, because no GB or UK broadcaster wants to pay what the Irish do based on viewing figures - is because they are the ones currently dominating the league. It is 'working' for them in so far as they have outpaced the competition from Wales in particular and the lack of competition allows them to rotate/rest their best players to save them for European and international rugby (Sexton for instance has barely played a game away from home in the Pro14 in the last 6 years). The dominance of Leinster is so great that the IRFU has even had to dole out some of its best players to the other provinces - McGrath and Murphy to Ulster, Carbery to Munster. They are only able to do this because the dominance is so great.

The most recent indictment of the lack of viability and prestige can be found in the decision to just tear up the Pro14 during the pandemic for the sake of an always ambitious and probably fanciful Rainbow Cup involving the South African teams. You cannot get a clearer signal that your league/competition is low value than the organisers willingly ripping up its own competition for a shot at what would always have been an odd set of matches to prepare the South Africans for the upcoming Lions Tour. Maybe you can say that the people who made that decision were merely responding to the fact that teams/fans don't care about the Pro14 anyway and would treat it as an undervalued competition in any case, as they have done for years. But I'd argue that the clubs, in particular those outside Ireland, are just responding to the lack of coherence and value to the competition and that is largely a result of the management of the Pro14. So, if the Pro14's decision makers aren't responsible for compounding the devaluation of the Pro14 as a viable and serious annual competition, who is? Now we all have to go through with the charade of 'Rainbow Cup 2.0' which is basically just Pro14 friendlies for us up here and Super-Currie-Cup-Lions-warm-ups for you down in South Africa. If this outcome (which was always a likely outcome given the covid issues and govt restrictions in SA and the UK) isn't all that bad, then it just shows you how pointless the Pro14 is as an actual competition in its own right.

So, the South African clubs joining is a bit like Cardiff City FC and Swansea City FC joining the Scottish Premiership in the late 90s or early 2000s when Celtic and Rangers were both quite strong and were beating the likes of Liverpool in European competition. It's an absolutely ridiculous move if it's intended to be a long term plan (which I assume it isn't, but that's why I say it's not going to work). The future viability of UK rugby is obviously in England because it's where the eyes are and England has essential global connections that are genuinely world leading. Money is generated on the basis of interest but it's not just purely a numbers game: it's also the type of interest you can produce. RugbyPass are a great example of this by tapping in to the east Asian and north American markets while bringing legacy fans from traditional countries with them, broadcasting online to the millennial and Gen Z ex-pats out in Singapore, Hong Kong and so on who are happier paying for digital subscriptions and will make up the rugby fans of tomorrow (as well as helping to spread the game in to these territories like Japan and increase interest in non-traditional native fans of new markets). The Pro14's decision to sell its broadcasting rights to a company that produces an inferior product compared to state television and has no desire to grow the league in to new territories or to new audiences via its online or television output is a major sign of just how utterly incompetent everyone involved in the Pro14 is as it shows how chasing every last penny is driving the decision-making process at the top level above and beyond any coherent long term strategy (at least, not one that we as fans are privvy to). It is a strangulation of the competition, its fans, and its clubs outside Dublin/Ireland for the sake of a quick buck. I would go as far to say as there has been genuine incompetence among the leadership and it might even be a deliberate tactic of managed decline for whatever CVC is choosing to do with European rugby. I cannot believe they want to maintain the Pro14 in its current format and it may well be that the current Pro14 management has been tasked with keeping the competition running on fumes until CVC is able to push through the restructuring that it truly wants.

If the Pro14 can 'work' under the new CVC ownership, it is almost certainly as more of the same but worse. It'll become a way of maintaining competition for the best Irish and South African clubs so they can compete in Europe, which is where the real money is due to the wealth of fans in Dublin and presumably Joburg, Cape Town and so on. Forget about the ridiculousness of South Africa playing in a European competition for the moment - this is where the future of sport is going. It is following the model of transnational corporations that see borders as a mere inconvenience, rather than a marker of national sovereignty. The European Super League in soccer is a good example of that and it will eventually happen in some form within the next 20 years. Rugby is the same, European competition will be used as a means of maximising profit by appealing to global and multinational brands who will become the new sponsors, appealing to the new fans, of the near future. I cannot see how the Pro14 can exist in this new model as anything other than a phoney competition, being used as a resting post for the established yet financially troubled tier 1 nations like South Africa, Ireland, Wales and so on.

The comparison to Rugby League earlier in the thread is not a very good one. Rugby League has a small yet dedicated 'legacy' audience and can never really go much further than it already has without tapping in to these emerging markets (which it has ultimately failed to do). More importantly it's already had its financial revolution. Rupert Murdoch capitalised on Rugby League in the 90s in the same way he did for football with the Premier League and for rugby back in Australia: it was a way of buying up and investing in to sport in order to win the trust and attention of working class men. The current sponsors and financial supporters of Rugby League in England are construction, betting, and beer companies which says a lot about who it is reliant on. It does not have the viability of appealing to the new globally mobile middle classes, let alone the traditional national middle classes who make up most of the current Union audience, like Rugby Union does so it is not a good comparison to make. Union is preparing for the world of tomorrow. It still has a relatively small audience share in comparison to the likes of soccer or the NFL in America but it has a lot of potential given it's only recently moved out of amateurism. Most importantly it has a genuine global reach, in to every important continent in the world, with a heavy connection to the Anglosphere and some of the best of British Imperial values like fairness, pluralism and so on. That, along with the gladitorial and athletic nature of the sport, makes it intriguing to new audiences who will be attracted to the physical meritocracy that rugby affords to its players. League is already close to maximising its financial potential in England unless it changes in the same manner Union does i.e. gets rid of the traditions, appeals to a globally homogenised audience, sanitises the game to appeal to mothers and children. It tried by getting rid of the shoulder charge but eventhough League outpaces Union in terms of skills, fitness, coaching and so on, it can't compete with the finances Union can attract. The only anomaly to that is Australia.

That's basically why the South African teams are not going to work. The league is effectively a dead man walking and if/when the South Africans join it'll still need new investment in a few years time. There's nowhere else to go though. The next logical step is the end of the ProXX project and I assume by the time that becomes necessary, CVC will be able to implement whatever it is they have planned.

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Post by y ddraig goch Fri May 21, 2021 11:14 pm

neilthom7 wrote:In terms of sponsors being Irish and Irish broadcasters surely the league just accepts the best offers for sponsorship/broadcast deals? Am i wrong about that? If I am right then are you saying you would like the league to accept less money just to have broadcasters/sponsors from other nations?  

This is directly on the topic but it's exactly the problem with thinking that the 'best' offer is whoever offers the most money in the short term. Given the cycle of broadcasters since Celtic Rugby first went to a private broadcaster, and the consequences of this in terms of product, audience growth etc, it's clear that there is more to being the 'best' than just the bottom line.

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Post by BamBam Fri May 21, 2021 11:20 pm

Dear lord

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Post by Old Man Sat May 22, 2021 5:08 am

Lots there to chew on, firstly, yes five NZ franchises are quality and competitive and the matches are great.

However, the reality is it isn’t sustainable financially. NZ population and viewership numbers are too small to ensure sufficient revenue.

Whilst the quality is great the timeslot isn’t the greatest.




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Post by profitius Sat May 22, 2021 9:22 am

y ddraig goch wrote:
Old Man wrote:  (the South African teams aren't going to work)

Unclear what you mean?

Not going to work in what sense?

Good question.

It's my belief that the Pro12/14/16 competition is dead and has been on borrowed time since 2013 when the restructuring of European rugby effectively threw the Italians to the ditch (which is a major reason for their poor Six Nations results since then as they had to rebuild their professional teams from basically scratch). Some might argue it was already in trouble when it first added the Italians as it was a sign of what was to come.

In short, the Pro14 is going through the same lifecycle as Super Rugby. You will know how that went, the positives and the negatives, and adding the Kings & Cheetahs was a bit like adding the Sunwolves. The pandemic really ought to have been the end of the competition, making room for a better, more modern replacement, but the clubs were backed by the European socialised economic policies of their respective national govts that have a duty to maintain these businesses and by passing that debt on the future generations, the competition is still alive and the Pro14 has been able to add 4 more South African sides to the roster.

It is a competition that is severely lacking in prestige, meaning, history, and commercial viability. The English Premiership has had its issues over the last 20 years but eventhough it has struggled with the quality of its teams at times, it has stabilised and since 2013 - the same time the Pro12 started declining, with the rise of Toulon and Saracens replacing Leinster as the best teams in Europe - the addition of foreign talent and the benefit of investing in academies that began 10 years previously meant the Prem became a highly attractive league to watch and play in alike. The Pro14 suffers with poor quality matches, variable competitiveness due to rotation with a view to preparing players for European or international competition, lack of jeopardy or incentive to improve due to no relegation, fans don't travel to away games as it's both expensive and unrewarding, a lack of tradition or 'true' rivalry has limited home attendances, dreadful officiating due to the disparity between nations (in particular Scotland who cannot produce a competent professional referee), and there is no obvious way to either grow the fanbase (the three main countries all have small, not particularly wealthy populations - apart from Dublin) or allow natural selection to take care of changing demographics and ecomonics (i.e. Exeter replacing the likes of Leeds Rhinos in England) due to the enclosed competition and lack of pyramidal progression/regression that was curtailed in Wales and Scotland to produce superclubs for this new competition. All of this creates apathy and a sense of rot which keeps fans, investors, and broadcasters away as they can see the competition has limited growth and entertainment value.

This past year, there have been two competitions which have stood head and shoulders above any of the others and they've done it in almost completely different ways, which shows there is no fixed way to do things successfully. That is the English Prem and NZ's Rugby Aotearoa. The latter is a showcase of the incredible skill and talent that comes from NZ's internally driven competitiveness and desire to stay ahead of the chasing pack by creating and maintaining a self-sufficient and world leading rugby culture at every level but in particular with skills and coaching. The gulf in ability between NZ and Australia has been painful to watch in the trans Tasman games. The English have taken a different approach and it mirrors England's success as a pluralistic yet utilitarian society, mirroring the football Premiership by using the tradition of established and historical club rivalries with a decent number of fans to hire coaching and playing personnel from all over the world while avoiding the issues the French got in to with the Top14 (something they finally addressed when they realised they couldn't survive with a second rate national side). The English Premiership is producing good games of rugby, broadcast on a TV channel (and shown on social media) that many people have for telecommunications, with standards of play that have in some cases probably improved without fans (unlike football, or some other rugby comps i.e. Pro14). As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if the English Prem has won over fans during the past 12 months on the basis that it's producing a good and visible product at a time when people were locked down. Bristol and Exeter are fantastic to watch and showcase how there's more than one way to successfully skin a cat.

The rest are playing catch up to those two. The Top 14 isn't far behind and could surpass the English Premiership,
although language is probably their biggest barrier to global domination, but the Australian and SA'n Super Rugby comps were a mixed bag. The Japanese and American leagues are up and coming. The Pro14 is in the awkward middle ground that Australia occupy but without the potential market due to the size of the audience (interest is probably near peaking in Ireland due to a decade of domination despite the league's problems, Italy has big potential but are still a long way off producing two competitive club sides made up of Italian talent). They have an obviously inferior product to their nearest neighbours, with standards, history, and competitiveness clearly second rate, yet there's nowhere obvious to go. There's no clear path to catch up or surpass the competition without joining them.

.

The top14 is the biggest by far. The premiership wants to ring-fence their league which will stop and potential new clubs from rising and gaining investment. Exeter will be the last of those.


The premiership clubs do not want the Welsh teams btw. I don't know why all the anger directed towards irish rugby for being relatively success at that level.


As for SA teams dominating. I'd rather that than more cannon fodder. Theyll raise the standard of the league without doubt. That will attract more fans and could create a virtuous circle. It will depend how SA fans get behind it. They won't have NZ teams and the season is a bit disjointed but the matches won't be on at 6am and they've plenty of SA players playing in this part of the world. It won't matter a jot to team ireland. Wales do well despite the regions.


Maybe a 2 tier league is the future with promotion and relegation. Let the weaker teams play among themselves.
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Post by Old Man Sat May 22, 2021 9:32 am

Maybe a 2 tier league is the future with promotion and relegation. Let the weaker teams play among themselves.

That is how I see it as well.

If you have promotion and relegation with say at most ten teams in the top tier then every match will be of importance. But I have seen too many comments on “ we want derbies” and that holds the potential back of a great potential tournament, it was the beginning of the downfall of Super Rugby when everyone wanted more derbies

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Post by Old Man Sat May 22, 2021 12:54 pm

Are the SA rainbow cup matches aired in Europe?

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Post by profitius Sat May 22, 2021 1:10 pm

Old Man wrote:Are the SA rainbow cup matches aired in Europe?


Yeah. Theyre treating it as one competition.
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Post by LeinsterFan4life Sat May 22, 2021 1:11 pm

profitius wrote:
y ddraig goch wrote:
Old Man wrote:  (the South African teams aren't going to work)

Unclear what you mean?

Not going to work in what sense?

Good question.

It's my belief that the Pro12/14/16 competition is dead and has been on borrowed time since 2013 when the restructuring of European rugby effectively threw the Italians to the ditch (which is a major reason for their poor Six Nations results since then as they had to rebuild their professional teams from basically scratch). Some might argue it was already in trouble when it first added the Italians as it was a sign of what was to come.

In short, the Pro14 is going through the same lifecycle as Super Rugby. You will know how that went, the positives and the negatives, and adding the Kings & Cheetahs was a bit like adding the Sunwolves. The pandemic really ought to have been the end of the competition, making room for a better, more modern replacement, but the clubs were backed by the European socialised economic policies of their respective national govts that have a duty to maintain these businesses and by passing that debt on the future generations, the competition is still alive and the Pro14 has been able to add 4 more South African sides to the roster.

It is a competition that is severely lacking in prestige, meaning, history, and commercial viability. The English Premiership has had its issues over the last 20 years but eventhough it has struggled with the quality of its teams at times, it has stabilised and since 2013 - the same time the Pro12 started declining, with the rise of Toulon and Saracens replacing Leinster as the best teams in Europe - the addition of foreign talent and the benefit of investing in academies that began 10 years previously meant the Prem became a highly attractive league to watch and play in alike. The Pro14 suffers with poor quality matches, variable competitiveness due to rotation with a view to preparing players for European or international competition, lack of jeopardy or incentive to improve due to no relegation, fans don't travel to away games as it's both expensive and unrewarding, a lack of tradition or 'true' rivalry has limited home attendances, dreadful officiating due to the disparity between nations (in particular Scotland who cannot produce a competent professional referee), and there is no obvious way to either grow the fanbase (the three main countries all have small, not particularly wealthy populations - apart from Dublin) or allow natural selection to take care of changing demographics and ecomonics (i.e. Exeter replacing the likes of Leeds Rhinos in England) due to the enclosed competition and lack of pyramidal progression/regression that was curtailed in Wales and Scotland to produce superclubs for this new competition. All of this creates apathy and a sense of rot which keeps fans, investors, and broadcasters away as they can see the competition has limited growth and entertainment value.

This past year, there have been two competitions which have stood head and shoulders above any of the others and they've done it in almost completely different ways, which shows there is no fixed way to do things successfully. That is the English Prem and NZ's Rugby Aotearoa. The latter is a showcase of the incredible skill and talent that comes from NZ's internally driven competitiveness and desire to stay ahead of the chasing pack by creating and maintaining a self-sufficient and world leading rugby culture at every level but in particular with skills and coaching. The gulf in ability between NZ and Australia has been painful to watch in the trans Tasman games. The English have taken a different approach and it mirrors England's success as a pluralistic yet utilitarian society, mirroring the football Premiership by using the tradition of established and historical club rivalries with a decent number of fans to hire coaching and playing personnel from all over the world while avoiding the issues the French got in to with the Top14 (something they finally addressed when they realised they couldn't survive with a second rate national side). The English Premiership is producing good games of rugby, broadcast on a TV channel (and shown on social media) that many people have for telecommunications, with standards of play that have in some cases probably improved without fans (unlike football, or some other rugby comps i.e. Pro14). As a result, I wouldn't be surprised if the English Prem has won over fans during the past 12 months on the basis that it's producing a good and visible product at a time when people were locked down. Bristol and Exeter are fantastic to watch and showcase how there's more than one way to successfully skin a cat.

The rest are playing catch up to those two. The Top 14 isn't far behind and could surpass the English Premiership,
although language is probably their biggest barrier to global domination, but the Australian and SA'n Super Rugby comps were a mixed bag. The Japanese and American leagues are up and coming. The Pro14 is in the awkward middle ground that Australia occupy but without the potential market due to the size of the audience (interest is probably near peaking in Ireland due to a decade of domination despite the league's problems, Italy has big potential but are still a long way off producing two competitive club sides made up of Italian talent). They have an obviously inferior product to their nearest neighbours, with standards, history, and competitiveness clearly second rate, yet there's nowhere obvious to go. There's no clear path to catch up or surpass the competition without joining them.

.

The top14 is the biggest by far. The premiership wants to ring-fence their league which will stop and potential new clubs from rising and gaining investment. Exeter will be the last of those.


The premiership clubs do not want the Welsh teams btw. I don't know why all the anger directed towards irish rugby for being relatively success at that level.


As for SA teams dominating. I'd rather that than more cannon fodder. Theyll raise the standard of the league without doubt. That will attract more fans and could create a virtuous circle. It will depend how SA fans get behind it. They won't have NZ teams and the season is a bit disjointed but the matches won't be on at 6am and they've plenty of SA players playing in this part of the world. It won't matter a jot to team ireland. Wales do well despite the regions.


Maybe a 2 tier league is the future with promotion and relegation. Let the weaker teams play among themselves.
Bizzare comment regarding the top 14 "potentially surpassing the premiership". Not only has the Top 14 left the prem in the dust, France now have 3 fully professional divisions plus many, many more semi pro clubs in the lower divisions. Some of the Welsh posters seem to have an extremely inflated view of what the prem is.

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Post by RiscaGame Sat May 22, 2021 4:08 pm

Old Man wrote:Are the SA rainbow cup matches aired in Europe?

Yeah, whilst the tv contract is Premier Sports, they are.

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Post by Old Man Sat May 22, 2021 5:27 pm

Anyone watching it?

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Post by Brendan Mon May 24, 2021 11:43 am

The debate about salary cap has overlooked a few thing.

If it is done like the financial fair play in soccer to punish Munster (debt v losses) and Connacht you would hurt Edinburgh, Zebre, Benetton and possibly Dragons more.

If it is done like the English Premership to punish Leinster two things will happen.  Connacht will be much stronger as very Irish team would be paid to the cap.  Young Irish players would be distributed more evenly among the 4 accedemies. Meaning massive academy credits.  Each Irish team would also have a massive Irish and non Irish player at each team.  You would end up with Ireland having stronger squads and teams no weaker.

Cap talks also overlook the financial input that the WRU are given to certain players in Wales.  As mention before if the WRU didn't do the 80% of certain Scarlets players they would not be able to afford their current squad (nor would Ospreys) as explained by the Scarlets CEO himself when complaining of the support given to the Regions.  If the Unions were allowed to follow the WRU club wage payments model then it would not change payments to Irish teams from the IRFU

I don't know what model would result in Irish teams who bring the majority of players through the Irish system would not be more compeditive or adapt quickly to be stronger.

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Post by LordDowlais Mon May 24, 2021 11:57 am

Firstly, nobody is looking to punish anyone. So we can stop with that. OK

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

I was not aware that the WRU paid for 80% of the Scarlets players, I also cannot find it on the WWW. As far as I was aware, the WRU pay towards players wages so that they can access them for team Wales, then it is only about 60/40 split, for certain players.

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Post by Brendan Mon May 24, 2021 11:59 am

If it is down to ownership would we rather Zebre or Arroni in the league.  One went bust the other is backed by the FIR and is going nowhere.

If all teams had to be purchased out by private investors I don't see how this would be a benefit to the league or fix the perceived issues.  The potential owners of the Irish Provinces apart from maybe Connacht (though it would be a great investment) would be large consortiums with lots of money to burn and they would all just become Bristol.  As it is Sexton and RG Snayman are/were part funded by private investment as far as I know.

The Irish economy has plenty big businesses and the BOI sponsorship per team for the provinces is massive compared to other teams.  Can't see that helping the league either.

Connacht beat Munster because they have the better coach and picked up some great players on good deals (some frim Munster).  They still have a smaller playing budget then Scarlets and the 3 Big teams yet have held their own.

If the English cap was brought in Ospreys and Scarlets would be harmed just as much as Ulster and Munster.  Leinster have half the squad on academy for first professional contract and those players alone are still hard to beat and would be a massive wage bill.

The Irish have the best academy systems up North which is why their teams are better. If other teams had the same they would improve too.

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon May 24, 2021 12:00 pm

LordDowlais wrote:

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

By way of correction the Ulster salary bill is below Munsters and below the English Premiership cap

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Post by LordDowlais Mon May 24, 2021 12:07 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

By way of correction the Ulster salary bill is below Munsters and below the English Premiership cap

Which makes it a bigger mockery. How have Munster got a bigger salary then Ulster, when Ulster get Crowds of 15-18000 per game, and Munster get circa 10,000 per game ?

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Post by Brendan Mon May 24, 2021 12:14 pm

LordDowlais wrote:Firstly, nobody is looking to punish anyone. So we can stop with that. OK

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

I was not aware that the WRU paid for 80% of the Scarlets players, I also cannot find it on the WWW. As far as I was aware, the WRU pay towards players wages so that they can access them for team Wales, then it is only about 60/40 split, for certain players.

Never said they pay 80% of their wage bill I said 80% of certain players

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/scarlets-chairman-reveals-exhausted-confused-20344503.amp

Muderack then went on to discuss the financial issues facing Welsh rugby's professional teams.

One 'myth' he busted was that it is advantageous to employ many Wales stars at your region. The Welsh Rugby Union pays 80% of the wages of 38 'elite' players in Wales with their regions picking up the remaining 20%.


Scarlets have 15 of the 38 players (I assume Ospreys have simillar).  That is one massive chunk of money the WRU are given the Scarlets.  Would that be covered under the wage cap or would that be outside the new wage cap being requested

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon May 24, 2021 12:18 pm

Brendan wrote:
If the English cap was brought in Ospreys and Scarlets would be harmed just as much as Ulster and Munster.  Leinster have half the squad on academy for first professional contract and those players alone are still hard to beat and would be a massive wage bill.

For the 2020-21 Salary Cap Year, the level of the Salary Cap was £6.4 million, dropping to £5 million for 21/22 with the following credits and exclusions:
•• Home Grown Player Credits totalling £600,000 (up to £50,000 per player) – designed to incentivise clubs to retain home grown talent;
•• EPS/International Player Credits not overall limit but up to £80,000 per player – to cover player absence during international periods;
•• Injured Player Credits totalling £400,000 – to allow replacement players to cover for long term injuries;
•• Two Excluded Players – their entire salary is excluded from the salary cap

So we are talking £5.6 million + 2 top players and some top ups for International/Injury cover.

By comparison Ulster salary budget for the last two years was of the order of £6.8 million, inclusive of Central contracts.
However for the coming year all top players have taken a significant pay cut, the squads overseas players has dropped from 4 to 2, and that includes
Coetzee who has been replaced by Nakarawa who will be on half of Coetzee salary. In total I doubt the Ulster total is over £6 million.

Part of the issue is squad size - Ulster squad next year is 41 senior players.
By way of comparison Cardiff have 50 listed on their website for this season, Northampton Saints have 58.
I have not cherry picked those teams I have picked them because I have good friends who support those teams.





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Post by Brendan Mon May 24, 2021 12:18 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

By way of correction the Ulster salary bill is below Munsters and below the English Premiership cap

Which makes it a bigger mockery. How have Munster got a bigger salary then Ulster, when Ulster get Crowds of 15-18000 per game, and Munster get circa 10,000 per game ?

Economic forces. Private backing. Take home Pay. Cost of merchandise. Cost of tickets.

Ulster are a well run team who are more than the sun of their parts and have a much better coach then Munster.

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Post by LordDowlais Mon May 24, 2021 12:18 pm

I thought that was just to help through the pandemic, I am sure somebody like Phil will come on here and put us all right though. Laugh

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon May 24, 2021 12:20 pm

LordDowlais wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

By way of correction the Ulster salary bill is below Munsters and below the English Premiership cap

Which makes it a bigger mockery. How have Munster got a bigger salary then Ulster, when Ulster get Crowds of 15-18000 per game, and Munster get circa 10,000 per game ?

Local businessmen investment.
Ulster do not have, and never have had private investment

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Post by Irish Londoner Mon May 24, 2021 12:20 pm

The real point here is "what are CVC investing in this for?".

It's quite obvious that there is not much extra revenue to be squeezed out of either the PRO16 or the Premiership as things stand, for example Sky didn't even bid for the rights to either league so there's no raft of broadcasters looking to take rugby on board, same with the European competition - it therefore seems that the only way to get more money out of this is to at some point have either a four nations league or at the very least a four nations cup competition - in current circumstances there would be little appetite for a cup competition, the players need less games not more, so a B & I league would seem the only way to get extra TV money on the table, however that can't happen until the English leagues do away with promotion and relegation - after all it's not going to be very fair if an English side can be relegated and none of the others can, particularly if that side finished above two or three other PRO16 teams.
Given that a best that's a least a couple of seasons away, does anyone have an idea how CVC get any return on their investment?

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Post by LordDowlais Mon May 24, 2021 12:21 pm

Brendan wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

By way of correction the Ulster salary bill is below Munsters and below the English Premiership cap

Which makes it a bigger mockery. How have Munster got a bigger salary then Ulster, when Ulster get Crowds of 15-18000 per game, and Munster get circa 10,000 per game ?

Economic forces. Private backing.  Take home Pay.  Cost of merchandise. Cost of tickets.

Ulster are a well run team who are more than the sun of their parts and have a much better coach then Munster.

But surely they should have a bigger budget than Munster ?

I just checked the WWW and Munster average about 8000ish people per game in the Pro14, Ulster average is almost double, that to me suggests that Munster are being massively supplemented by the IRFU if their budget is higher than Ulster.

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Post by LordDowlais Mon May 24, 2021 12:22 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:

Secondly, Connacht would probably at the same level as Dragons, Munster would probably be the same as the other Welsh regions, Leinster and Ulster would probably see the worst of it, as they attract crowds big enough to sustain a bigger budget.

By way of correction the Ulster salary bill is below Munsters and below the English Premiership cap

Which makes it a bigger mockery. How have Munster got a bigger salary then Ulster, when Ulster get Crowds of 15-18000 per game, and Munster get circa 10,000 per game ?

Local businessmen investment.
Ulster do not have, and never have had private investment

Nobody has said they have. Headscratch

I am of the opinion that Ulster are getting a raw deal by the IRFU if we are comparing them with Munster. OK

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Post by geoff999rugby Mon May 24, 2021 12:23 pm

Brendan wrote: One 'myth' he busted was that it is advantageous to employ many Wales stars at your region. The Welsh Rugby Union pays 80% of the wages of 38 'elite' players in Wales with their regions picking up the remaining 20%.
[/b]

Scarlets have 15 of the 38 players (I assume Ospreys have simillar).  That is one massive chunk of money the WRU are given the Scarlets.  Would that be covered under the wage cap or would that be outside the new wage cap being requested

It would have to be, otherwise Leinster would be, now, under any salary cap with their 10 or so Central Contracts.

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