Not wholly sure about this

Rugby World Cup 2015 marks the year when the sport went global

Hmm. That New Zealand play Australia in England is pretty global, yes. But in 1987 when France played New Zealand in New Zealand was sorta global.

28 thoughts on “Not wholly sure about this”

  1. The year when it went global was either 1991, when Canada and Western Samoa made the quarter finals and other minor nations did remarkably well (Romania beating Fiji, for instance), or 1999 when there were 20 teams for the first time. If anything it was less global this time after the Northern Hemisphere were knocked out wholesale.

  2. Re: Tim Newman

    Emirates were probably pretty happy; but BA don’t fly to New Zealand and no self respecting Aussie will fly BA if they can avoid it (and now that Qantas are linked up with Emirates it isn’t like they’ll accidentally end up on BA, as happened to me once!).

  3. self respecting Aussie

    After this, I think that term is pretty much redundant:

    Australia flanker David Pocock is the World Cup’s most intriguing star: I fight climate change and won’t marry my girlfriend until gay people have equal marriage rights

  4. ‘Global’ might have no practical meaning here. However, if there are identifiable moments when rugby union’s reach and it’s own self-perception changed it would be 1987, when it finally held a “World” Cup and 2015, when a ‘new’ nation finally emerged as a genuine contender.
    Rugby Union has never been the same since the World Cup came into being; it’s future as a professional sport was decided at that moment. It will never be the same now there are 4 big teams playing in the Southern hemisphere; the Home Nations is now just a little regional tournament.

  5. @TN – In March, in a domestic match, Pocock shopped an opposition player for ‘homophobic abuse’ i.e. the other guy called someone (not necessarily) ‘faggot’.

    That is 21st Century Australia for you. I first visited about four years ago and thought it was like ‘Singapore for white people’ (it’s a great place, apart from all that guff though). On reflection, I think Singapore is actually less uptight and PC. Even the beer is cheaper…

    I confess I’ve not been outside the big Australian cities so the larrikin spirit and all that might still survive.

  6. I first visited about four years ago and thought it was like ‘Singapore for white people’

    I did a spell there in 2013 and came to much the same conclusion: it’s a nanny state writ large. Most of the things Australians were once famous for are now banned.

  7. If you guys want rugby to go global you need to play it in the spring. I would have liked to go to the US test match against Australia earlier this fall, but like all Americans I had a preexisting appointment that day, the first Saturday of college football.

    It would also probably help if you let us look competitive sometimes, not going to put together much market share in the US if we lose 64 to 0 frequently.

  8. Whenyour World Cup consists entirely of the only teams who play the game to any standard, and the vast majority of those countries are ex-British colonies, you simply cannot call the sport global. And certainly not in the sense that football is a global sport.

  9. OriginalMichael

    You have a point about putting events on that conflict with other, bigger calendar events. However, in the bigger scheme of things I think I disagree with. The way to global is to build up the ayer base and let the audience follow later.
    Argentina is successful because it has players; Italy by contrast doesn’t.

  10. Ironman

    I’m not being too serious, just simultaneously ragging on both World rugby and US Rugby. The 2011 broadcast rights to the 2011 RWC sold for £93 million, a single college (in say the top 40 programs nationwide) football team gets ~$20 million a year for the broadcast rights to their 6 home games. Rugby is small potatoes compared to that.

    RFU’s revenue is about £150 million, and the Welsh Rugby Union is the second largest at £61. Compared that to the NFL at $12 billion and the AFL at $446 million annually. Excluding the RWC every four years the AFL is approximately the same size as global rugby unless I’ve missed something looking at the various rugby unions.

    On the flip side, the reason rugby broadcast rights aren’t worth much in the US is because we managed to lose to South Africa by the not very respectable score of sixty four to zero, which doesn’t even register as one of our worst losses, not a good way to attract more fans state-side.

  11. I know plenty of Aussies who fly on BA, and two pilots who fly for them.

    It’s nonsense to describe the 6N as a little regional tournament in a comment about professionalism. The money ain’t in the south, that’s for sure.

    However, it is true that NH teams need to do something big and significant to catch up. The alickadoos and the sugar daddies pose something of an issue, but I propose (in no particular order):

    – A global season and Euro rugby modelled on the NZ/SA game.

    – The expansion (in England) of the Prem into a 14 strong Currie Cup/ITM Cup type comp with (maybe) Leeds and Bristol, and no relegation thereafter.

    – A senior European regional club comp, with (say) sixteen regional teams – four from England, four from France, three from Ireland, two from Wales, plus the national sides from Scotland, Italy and AN other.

    For England I’d select from Sale, Leeds and Newcastle to create a Northern franchise; Leicester, Worcester, Northampton, and Wasps into a Midlands; Gloucester, Bath, Bristol and Exeter in a Western, and Sarries, Quins and London Irish into a South Eastern.

    (Yes, yes, this will never ever happen for many obvious reasons. But wait until Argentina – and Japan – have been effectively playing in the Rugby Championship for four years, and we are all crushed at the next RWC in Japan and drastic action really is required.)

    – Some kind of improved deal for club funding in return for more access to the players.

    – More semi-artificial pitches.

    – If necessary a local playing conditions variation which prevents non-injury subs so as to force the players yo stay on the pitch and therefore to get and stay fitter and slimmer.

  12. If you guys want rugby to go global you need to play it in the spring.

    For the four semi-finalists, it was in the spring.

  13. @Ironman ‘Argentina is successful because it has players; Italy by contrast doesn’t.’

    It’s about much, must more than the player base. England has 2.5 million registered players, New Zealand 137,000.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-yeSN53py7PI/TmXJ4UMiD1I/AAAAAAAAAgs/54kHw_zo9AY/s1600/IRB+Player+Numbers.jpg

    Hugh – what is this obsession with football, and how many people play or watch a game? You can travel to most countries in the world and someone will be playing rugby. Increasingly, it’s getting more competitive. The fact that more people like soccer… And? More people read The Sun than the Spectator.

    @OriginalMichael

    US sport makes a lot of money. And…? That said, I agree, I’d have thought Melville would have achieved more by now. I think the US will become a big rugby nation over the next 30-40 years, if you don’t get health and safetyed out of it.

  14. I’ve played rugby in the US….obviously, a long time ago. It won’t work there until the club teams are properly professional. No, doesn’t need to be paying $400,000 a year to a rookie. But that is what an NFL rookie gets. It’s got to be somewhat competitive with that.

  15. It’s not so much the NFL rookie salary that it needs to compete with, as everything else in the (American) football world.

    If they can match Canadian football and arena football and so on, then they can attract graduating college players. The NFL can only take in 50 or so college players a year; that’s less than one per Division 1-A (FBS) team, and they graduate 20-ish guys each every year.

    You’re never going to convince someone with an NFL contract to play rugby; anyone with a rookie contract will be dreaming of the big money still. But most of the people that go undrafted and many of the ones cut or on the “practice squad” will know that they’re never going to make it in the NFL – and changing to another sport where they might still make it to the top could be attractive against going to Canada or playing second-tier football in arena league, especially if the money is about the same.

    While it will take them a year or two to convert for most positions (props, hookers, fly-halves and scrum-halves will take longer than a couple of years), that will be a lot of good athletes into the sport – and there’s probably still ten positions you can fill with ex-footballers.

  16. aren’t the Pacific Islanders seeing promising players trying to move to American football, even if never selected for NFL they can receive a free college education if good enough.

  17. It’s about much, must more than the player base. England has 2.5 million registered players, New Zealand 137,000.

    Two and a half million English rugger players !!?

    Double the participation rate of New Zealand ?!!

    Somebody is being naughty with numbers, and others are being careless.

  18. Interested, the topic was whether rugby was a global sport or not. And if you want to know what a truly global sport looks like, you must look at football. It’s probably the only one. A handful of geographically-dispersed nations doesn’t make you global. As Tim hints, this idea about rugby is largely feel-good chuntering by journalists. Indeed, give it a decade or so and I reckon women’s football will be bigger than rugby.

  19. Indeed, give it a decade or so and I reckon women’s football will be bigger than rugby.

    I agree with you that the only truly global sport is football, but not with the above. The BBC pushed the recent women’s FIFA world cup for all it was worth, and nobody was interested. I don’t even remember who won. Why? Because the standard is shite. A mate of mine who knows a lot about professional sports in Norway told me their national women’s side plays with 15-16 year old boys, because the standard is roughly equivalent. It’s not that people would not watch the women play per se, it is more a question of why would you watch substandard women’s football when you have the far superior men’s stuff in such abundance?

  20. @High

    ‘Interested, the topic was whether rugby was a global sport or not. And if you want to know what a truly global sport looks like, you must look at football.’

    Yes but that’s bollocks, with your weasel word ‘truly’ being the key.

    @Johnny Bonk

    ‘Two and a half million English rugger players !!?

    Double the participation rate of New Zealand ?!!’

    Figures from the IRB, for registered players. And it’s not double, it’s eighteen times.

  21. Interested, some persist in the delusion that rugby is a global sport. Therefore, the word truly is relevant here. As much as you may resist, it is true.

  22. Tim, I think the women’s game will develop in a completely different way from the men’s and it will be nowhere near as huge. The professional game in the US will be the hub with other professional leagues being, effectively, satellite leagues feeding the best players into the US. I agree with your friend about the standard of play. I was unfortunate enough to see some of their World Cup. But the hope for their development is that the governing bodies seem to be taking it seriously. They’ve never had that before. And with the US and China being major nations in women’s football, it could be huge by any standard.

  23. @interested

    participation rate – ie, proportion of population, not absolute numbers.

    Do you not find 2.5 million English rugger players to be unlikely?

  24. @Hugh

    ‘Interested, some persist in the delusion that rugby is a global sport. Therefore, the word truly is relevant here. As much as you may resist, it is true.’

    Personally, I couldn’t give a shit how many countries play rugby (TBH I am happy with the current top twenty nations for all future RWCs, give or take), and yes the idiot’s round ball game is played and watched by more, but rugby is played to a reasonable standard in every continent; there are 101 full members and 18 associate members of World Rugby (the IRB as was). What definition of ‘global’ are you using? Played by all seven billion people all the time?

    @johnny

    Yep I do, but those are the only official figures I know of. They’re IRB stats AFAIK based on club registrations. Dunno why the IRB would lie about it? I suppose the info could have been bigged up by the RFU or Sport England or somesuch for funding purposes or something, but that would be fraud so I doubt it.

    It’s possible that the gap closes the other way ie English clubs insist on registration whereas (say) NZ are more ‘turn up and play’ about it. I dunno.

  25. @Johnny

    ‘participation rate – ie, proportion of population, not absolute numbers.’

    Yes, I’d missed this, sorry.

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