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I have found it fascinating following the debate this week regarding the future of the global game. You could almost hear the tectonic plates shifting as one by one club owners and administrators acknowledged problems which have long been issues but which have now been brought to the fore by the coronavirus pandemic; the over-reliance on television revenues, on rich benefactors, the unsustainable commercial structure of club rugby, the unwieldy international calendar三级成人视频, the self-interest which has influenced decisions.
三级成人视频The interesting thing is that this crisis might actually prove to be good for the game in the long run. I thought London Irish owner Mick Crossan was spot on when he said the pandemic might be the “the kick up the backside” the professional game needs - for all the right reasons.
三级成人视频Certainly that is the way the game has to look at it. As much as there is going to be short-term pain, this forced hiatus has at least provided an opportunity to hit the reset button (off the field at least - onfield, in my opinion, the game has never looked so good).
W三级成人视频hen you think about it, it’s easy to see how we have reached this point. After the initial ‘land grab’ when the game went professional in the mid-1990s, everything has just been bolted on; a competition here, a TV deal there. We have had 25 years of largely opportunistic growth. Every union, every league, every tournament developed down its own path, with the result that everyone is out to protect their own interests.
There have been various attempts down the years to come up with a more joined-up way of doing things. I particularly remember sitting down in Guildford 10 or so years ago for a conference run by the IRB (World Rugby as it now is). Unions and players from around the world were represented. Richie McCaw was there. But the pro game was only 12 years old by that point and there wasn’t the same incentive to fix it.
三级成人视频In the end the French didn’t want to change their season. More recently World Rugby floated the idea of a World League but again it hit the buffers due to self-interest.
This time, I think it really is in everyone’s interests to sit down and thrash out what a healthy global game looks like. Administrators have to think of the greater good. We need a more integrated business model.
The starting point has to be to reduce the number of games per season because that is the biggest problem in modern professional rugby, and the biggest change in thinking required.
三级成人视频Ideally players would play no more than 30-35 games per year. How you do that, and still manage to satisfy everyone, is open to debate. Television requires its pound of flesh for the vast sums it pumps in.
三级成人视频But maybe it’s time for rugby to accept a bit less money is the tradeoff for a properly run, properly structured game? Squads could be trimmed. Agents’ fees need to be looked at. Fewer games opens up opportunities in the calendar.
Looking at the Premiership the obvious answer is to reduce the number of professional clubs. At the moment you have maybe 13 viable professional clubs but the RFU could step up and support a 14th (I’m biased of course I’m going to say that should be in Yorkshire, but it really should be because it’s such an important region and geography should be part of the RFU's strategy as the governing body for game development). You could then have two leagues of seven.
Whatever happens, the issue of inequality must be part of any discussion going forwards. The game is hugely lopsided as it stands. And I don’t just mean the international game.
Revenues should be spread more equally amongst clubs, too. Bernard Laporte’s idea of a World Club Cup as a revenue-raising scheme is possibly a step too far. But if it was to happen, I think the revenues should feed back into the professional game rather than make the rich richer.
On the international front. Tier 1 nations have a moral obligation to help Tier 2 and Tier 3 countries, and there are so many ways they could do it. Through coaching and administration, through support alongside a playing programme which allows countries to develop and transition at each level.
We must start thinking in a more integrated way. Warren Gatland this week proposed a one-off game between the Lions and the All Blacks to help preparation and to bolster revenues. I’ve nothing against that idea. I played in a one-off Lions game myself on the Queen’s Jubilee. Why not do it more often? Playing two home Lions games between tours could be interesting. One game in a short season making significant impact on finance, and put the monies raised into a development fund for Tier 2 and Tier 3 nations?
三级成人视频It might sound naive. The likes of CVC Capital Partners, the private equity fund who have just ploughed £220million into the Premiership and who are closing in on a deal for the Six Nations, are hardly going to want to share out their revenues. But if you make the overall cake bigger, your slice can also grow that way.
O三级成人视频ne thing is for sure, we have an unprecedented opportunity to look at our game from a different perspective. World Rugby's latest figures suggest the game now has a significant growth in interest and following in Asia. Add the USA to the list of RWC venues and there is the potential for large global market involvement.
It might not make perfect sense, but at least, if all the thinking is on the table, the status quo can be challenged in a healthy way with open minds.