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Are we fiddling while Rome burns?

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Are we fiddling while Rome burns? Empty Are we fiddling while Rome burns?

Post by Rugby Fan Mon 27 Feb 2023, 3:04 pm

For some years now, the financial model for professional rugby has not made sense. Even some of the supposedly successful competitions, like Super Rugby, and the Heineken Cup, failed to generate enough money, with subsequent changes ending up degrading the whole experience.

We are currently enjoying a good Six Nations, and looking forward to a well-attended World Cup in France. And yet, the landscape looks so bleak. The success of rugby as a professional sport in almost every territory has, over the years, become increasingly dependent on the performance of teams at the national level. More troubling is the way this has become asymmetric: losing Test matches leads sponsors, supporters and viewers to turn away, while wins just hold apathy at bay, rather than generate new interest.

As the professional game is in such a parlous position, unions are driven to try and safeguard their own individual revenues, at the expense of working towards an arrangement which serves the game as a whole. There's probably a good game theory textbook to be written on how professional rugby has never seen the bigger picture.

COVID seemed like the perfect opportunity to rewrite the script, and yet the opportunity was squandered. Surely now is the time to settle on a global calendar. Distinct domestic competitions should dovetail with meaningful Test matches. Leading players should take part in both. Tie the whole thing up with a bow, and sell it to broadcasters in a neat packge. Whatever reduction in immediate revene that might entail, it will surely be the basis for a better professional set-up than we have now.

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Are we fiddling while Rome burns? Empty Re: Are we fiddling while Rome burns?

Post by Unclear Mon 27 Feb 2023, 7:02 pm

I would agree that things look bleak. Nothing seems to have happened about a global calendar. Nothing seems to have changed with the injection of money from CVC (in a number of different places). As you say everyone is still looking after number 1 as best possible.

There are a number of fundamental questions that need to answered, but I don't think we are even sure what they are. Player welfare will require a limited number of games per season. Is there room for "club" league/European comp/Internationals? Is that the right hierarchy? How can the grass roots game be funded and expanded, as that is where the talent really comes from? Is there actually the money out there to support a fully professional game? What about the traditions (Lions, Barbarians)?

It is unfair to do so, but what is going on in Wales looks like what could happen elsewhere if difficult decisions aren't taken.

I'm thinking of changing my name to "Not even half empty".

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