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United Rugby Championship: SA Fans view?

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United Rugby Championship: SA Fans view? Empty United Rugby Championship: SA Fans view?

Post by Intotouch Fri 25 Jun 2021, 4:28 pm

Hello,
I'm really curious to know what South African rugby fans think of this new league. Could any SA rugby fans on this forum here please give me an idea?

So far I've only come across positive articles in the press about how good this new league will be for South African rugby players and clubs. But these articles don't talk about what the fans want. Fans won't be affected by the main advantages for clubs in South Africa (less travel, same time zone, more money for clubs). Apart from not having to watch matches in the morning I don't see a reason why they'd prefer this league to super rugby. Nowhere have I read if the fans wanted this change to a new league. For all I know they could be furious, or ecstatic.

I am worried that the SA rugby fans won't want to show up to matches, or watch matches on tv against teams that they don't know. I've seen many Welsh fans in particular over the years complain about watching their teams play matches against sides that they don't care about who play mediocre rugby in the pro 14 and how this has turned them off watching it at all. I'm worried that many South African fans may feel the same way.

Are the fans looking forward to this competition or are they disinterested or disappointed even that SA sides have left Super rugby? From the lack of crowds that I saw coming to watch the Cheetahs or Southern Kings play against pro 14 sides I worry that many rugby fans in South Africa haven't even heard of the pro 14 sides. Or if they have they don't want to watch them. What do you think?

Intotouch

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Post by Old Man Fri 25 Jun 2021, 5:16 pm

Firstly, the Pro14, Premiership and French Top 14 has been on pay TV for years. Whilst we may not have shown great interest in the European competitions we have had casual conversations about it and the teams aren’t unknown to rugby fans.

The reason SA fans lost interest in Super Rugby was I would suggest twofold, we started losing too many players and the performances weren’t there against the NZ teams. Lions for example made three finals but couldn’t beat the NZ teams in the final.

Second reason was format, we hate conferences and the fact that all teams weren’t playing all teams.

The URC will do well to remember that, at least the way I see it is every match becomes important if everyone plays everyone and there is one log. I suppose the three extra derby matches per region is a compromise I can accept.

Whether the URC will actually realise more revenue is in my view op for debate, theoretically the time zones are better, but how much bigger realistically is the crowds and viewership from Ireland, Scotland and Wales than the viewership in OZ and NZ?

Italy to me is the anomaly, big population, big economy, but how big is the rugby market?

If the URC will provide us with a vehicle to retain more players, I am all for it, but if the status quo remains where we have more top players overseas than locally, is there really a point to it all?

Yes, the theory is you need o play overseas teams to stay up to standard, however you need the players to be competitive and stay up to standard.

When SA teams perform they get good crowds, the Bulls and Stormers used to pull 30k+ to the stadiums, Sharks 25k+ and the Lions 20k+.

Cheetahs hosts a city with a population much smaller than the main cities, so 10k crowds perhaps 15k on a good day is about as many as you can expect.

SARU and the teams and players all seem very excited about going north, the Kiwi and Aussie supporters now already hate us (OK not all of them) but there is now disdain amongst many of them for leaving Super Rugby, there is of course now the debate of did we leave or were we kicked out by the infamous report from NZ last year.

I think it is crucial that the URC aim to become the best professional in quality at least. It is also important that the SA teams retain enough players to have a shot for the title every season.

There is of course some home remedies SA rugby need, nothing to do with anyone else, but rather ensuring our game is better administrated and development of players need to be taken seriously.

I do believe our standard of coaching, barring the odd individual like Rassie, is below standard, we have lost a lot of rugby intellect over the last decade, and we are naive in our approach to the game itself. We still rely on raw talent to draw the attention of coaches with far too little individual development of player core skills.

Plenty to do, we aren’t anwhere near professional enough.

Old Man

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Post by Intotouch Sat 26 Jun 2021, 11:50 pm

Old Man, thank you for such a detailed response. That is all really interesting and I take heart from what you say. It sounds like fans in South Africa are going to be really interested in the URC and want it to succeed. Here’s hoping that the quality of the matches will keep fans in all countries engaged.

I’m relieved to hear that there’s some familiarity with the teams involved and hopefully some interest. Let’s hope that crowds everywhere attend in the first season to give it a good start. I’m looking forward to this competition. I’m really hoping that it’ll be welcomed everywhere.

Rugby in Italy is mainly popular in the north. This is the most densely populated region. I think that there would be more rugby fans in the pro 14 countries than in NZ and Aus but the international matches are the ones that draw in the biggest numbers of viewers by far. After that derby matches regularly draw crowds in each country which is I’m sure why these mini pools were designed. These are reliable money spinners and often matches of a high standard.

I’m surprised by what you said about the standard of coaching in SA. You say that you’ve lost a lot of rugby intellect over the last decade. Is it due to the same problem that causes many players to, mainly that more money can be earned overseas? Or are there other considerations? I thought myself that coaching in a country with more talented players than you could shake a stick at would be a dream job, and this would keep coaches there. Far easier than coaching in in any pro 14 country for example where exceptional players are few and teaching core skills happens at an age that would shock many.

Professionalism is still a struggle in rugby in most countries I think so ai don’t think that SA is unusual in this. Each countries problems may be different from those elsewhere but every country seems to be still chopping and changing laws and regulations hoping for the right recipe. Look at France having had to introduce the jiff and the last salary cap. The pro 14 competition has been mad that way. How many versions in how many years? But this seems the best one yet so here’s hoping that it works for all and loved by many. (I won’t say all, my optimism only goes so far). I hope this competition, finally, sticks to a format and members for a decade at least. Or maybe this is a sign that I too am getting old. Very Happy


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Post by Old Man Sun 27 Jun 2021, 8:12 am

Yes, I think coaches leave pretty much for the same reason players leave, at least those worth their salt, trouble is those staying behind have few to learn from, and thus their development as coaches are impeded.

I suppose it is easier to coach in SA due to the talent, but the reality is if a coach only relies on talent he doesn’t focus on developing the individuals.


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Post by Intotouch Tue 29 Jun 2021, 4:50 pm

Good point about the coaching experience.

Could you please recommend some South African rugby podcasts for me to listen to? Since we’re all united now it’d be good to get to know Maori about the teams.

Thanks again.


Intotouch

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Post by Old Man Tue 29 Jun 2021, 5:37 pm

Supersport has a show “The final whistle” it is also on youtube, best one I can think of right now, there is a South African Blogger Gareth Mason on youtube who can provide news, but I am not a fan of his.

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Post by Old Man Tue 29 Jun 2021, 5:40 pm

Brendan Nel is a rugby journalist who also has a youtube channel.

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Post by Intotouch Tue 29 Jun 2021, 9:39 pm

Great, I’ll check them out. It’s surprisingly hard to find SA rugby podcasts just by googling. I guess there’s been no article written yet discussing them generally. I look forward to them.

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Post by Brendan Thu 01 Jul 2021, 9:42 pm

Is there any rumours going around in SA circles about what is happening with the cheetahs.

I know there is an Afrikaans newspaper that gets some inside info every now and then.

Also with the signing of more players signed by the Bulls is there any talk of increasing the wage cap for the 4 teams or is iit all just the B&I Lions.

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Post by Old Man Thu 01 Jul 2021, 9:51 pm

SARU mentioned some involvement in a second tier European Competition, but haven’t given more detail

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