Opinion: Rugby priorities are out of whack

When do we admit the continued expansion of Super Rugby is proving detrimental to the sport as a whole?

As Kiwis, we normally pride ourselves on being forward thinkers.

However, on this occasion we need to thank our transtasman friends for speaking some harsh but much needed words.

Recently retired Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan wrote a column on SportsMate expressing that he had the wool removed from over his eyes in regards to the disconnection between the professional and amateur game in Australia.

I can’t help but feel the same has been happening for too long and has been swept under the rug on our own shores.

Earlier this month Ryan competed in the Shute Field final of New South Wales’ premier grade club tournament.

The match was attended by 16,000 fans – more than 12,000 who attended the Waratahs Super Rugby quarter-final against the Highlanders.

We can surely relate to Ryan’s feelings when it comes to a lack of interest in the state of Super Rugby – just look as far as crowd numbers for any match here outside New Zealand conference games.

You could be forgiven for thinking New Zealand Rugby, the Canterbury Rugby Union and other mainstream media are doing all they can to kill off the game at a club level and go for the cash grab at the professional level, even though all the evidence is pointing to fans turning away from a broken Super Rugby competition.

I can assure you there isn’t anything much better than enjoying Saturday afternoon premier club rugby on a sunny winter day. The brand of rugby isn’t something to be taken for granted, but we’re not doing enough to promote the game at club level – particularly the strong culture and family buzz that it has.

Interest in school boy rugby has risen in recent times undoubtedly because games at that level are being broadcast.

We need to be doing the same at club level and not a one camera job reduced to highlights.

As always where does the money come from?

Exit Super Rugby when the current broadcast deal ends after the 2020 season and reduce it to a transtasman competition.

I’m sure the money saved on business class flights to South Africa every year can help promote the game at club level.


  1. Great article, Gordon. As much as I love the Crusaders and what they’ve done (and will probably continue to do) in Super Rugby, the Crusaders Scholarships to Lincoln University have just about made the Canterbury Metro competition a one-way street. New Brighton could have nailed them in the Metro Final if they’d taken the wind in the first half, but it’s been hard for any other club to beat the cream of the young crop that Lincoln gathers from all around New Zealand. Ask any club, who have developed many of their own players from Under 6 year olds – at Brighton we’ve got 17 teams of kids from Under 6 to Under 13!! Lincoln even have scholarships for their Premier Colts. How can any other Metro Club compete??