Friday, 20 January 2012

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

The IRB’s Big Kahuna, Mike Miller, today announced that the heavily criticised RWC2011 schedule that placed such short turnaround times on the so-called ‘minnows’ will be reviewed ... but not at a cost to the Tournament’s sworn main objective: to milk as much f*cking cash out of this cow as we can.

We all remember how Namibia, Samoa and Georgia had 3-4 days between games while the All Blacks, Boks, France etc got a week. Japan had to play three times in 11 days, and fielded a weakened team against New Zealand in Pool play because of this.

Scheduling demands will have to be “balanced with what works for all the teams, the fans, the broadcasters and our commercial partners because we need to use to World Cup to maximise exposure and revenue to help grow the game around the world", said Miller. Though we all know his priorities won’t be in that order.

There remains no commitment to give these nations a fairer go. They may throw more development cash at them for the four years in between RWCs, but its the best (and only) chance for countries like Samoa & Tonga to assemble all their Northern Hemisphere players, so what is the point if they simply get railroaded into a schedule that no big union would ever agree to?

Miller also said: "Also there is the local culture. In New Zealand they don't play midweek matches, we had some but not big matches during the pool phase. In England there is a culture of big midweek matches, particularly with European football, so we will be able to construct a schedule to include big matches in midweek and so there will be more equality."

Ass. Its The World Cup, Mike. A midweek big game might adversely affect bar takings, but not bums on seats - what revisionist tripe.

England in 2015 will make a filthy amount of lucre because of bigger stadiums (all borrowed from Premiership Football clubs and the Welsh Rugby Union) and the much larger population in Europe and the UK. Japan in 2019 will be funded by banks.

And this constant talk of ‘growing the game is bollocks’. I am not so readily convinced that having Sevens at the Olympics will spread 15s beyond rugby’s current footprint. I think the IRB should be hurling the cash at the very teams most likely to qualify for RWC. Russia, Georgia, Romania, USA, Canada, the Pacific nations ... China even ... they deserve the most attention. Strengthen them into a competitive and appreciated component of international rugby, not a derisory Second Tier, and the game will spread out from them. And that goes for womens’ rugby too.

The IRB should not be scattering money across the whole globe willy nilly.

Miller says “There was a huge surge of interest in England after they won in 2003 but they didn’t have the capacity to deal with that.” I'd say their administrators did not have the mental capacity, and they are only now trying to clean house after 8 years of malpractice. The biggest potential market blew it.

We need England to be strong, we need Tonga and Russia to be strong. We need ALL those 20 nations who came to New Zealand last year to be competitive, and to be treated fairly ... especially at the IRB voting table.

Time for Miller and Lapasset to go. Time to break up the Old Farts Club.

No comments: