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SimonSmith
08-06-05, 18:06
This spins out of a thread where Bryan and I discussed the Wales/USA match.

Is that kind of game of any value at all, outside of a World Cup? Did Wales learn anything? Did the USA?

I have decidedly mixed feelings about it.

Bryan
08-06-05, 22:06
Simon Raises an excellent point, and truth be told I think the learning process only goes one way. Just as Wales suit up to play Canada this weekend, I think it will be the Canadians who come away with learning more from their opponents. Ex Welsh Skipper Jonathan Humphreys is "observing" the Canadian training camp in the lead up to the match to help out the team face his fellow countrymen, and we are all the wiser having him on our side.

We (Canadians) are a "Tier II" rugby nation. Half of the players are accountants or civil service men with the odd national team practice on the side, while the others play in Pro leagues in Europe. We have few full time professionals at the national rugby head office, and a lot of the specialists brought in are from overseas.

In order to build the quality of rugby to be played, teams need to face competitive teams. Canada's recent performance in the "Toshiba Super Cup" gave them confidence and helped them in international play, but they were playing against other Tier II nations. The question remains, should Tier II play Tier I nations outside the World Cup?

I really don't think that beating a team 77-3 does anything to improve your play. Just as refereeing a match that winds up 77-3 does little to improve a referee, it does very little to improve the players involved apart from maybe improving the probability of getting injured.

However, Canada v. New Zealand has more "pulling power" than say Canada v. Namibia. In order to strengthen the game and improve it's popularity, there is nothing better than seeing your national team square up live against the powerhouses of the world. That being said, seeing your National team get shellacked may do just the opposite- how far away will the US feel from the top nations after last weekend's result? Most Canadians (over 2/3) expect Canada to lose by more than 10 points against the Welsh, but losing by more than 50 points doesn't exactly garner confidence.

If you want to be the best, you've got to play the best. I'm not saying Canada or the US should go on a Lions-like tour of Australia or NZ, but seeing Canada v. Fiji or Canada v. Argentina would be well worth it to both sides and fans alike.

Since the dawn of professionalism, it seems as if the gap has widened between the haves and have-nots, but that doesn't mean that we can't learn a thing or two from playing each other! I don't expect to see Canada or the US engraved on the WW Ellis trophy, but given time I would hope that they would put in a good performance. That's all we want as spectators and fans anyways.

-Bryan

churchie
09-06-05, 01:06
I think the top nations have it as part of their duty to help promote on improve rugby in the supposed 'lesser' rugby nations. As Bryan says, Canada or the USA will probably never win the RWC, but they can improve.

Down in the South Pacific, countries like New Zealand and Australia have a duty to help out the smaller Pacific Island nations like Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The NZRU sent the NZ Maori to Suva to play Fiji (resulting in a massive crowd), and have put the Fijians up in a nice Auckland hotel before Fridays match with the AllBlacks. Wayne Pivac (the Fijian coach) has said the NZRU has been great to Fiji. He added that money can only go so far, and the best thing for his players is to get more experience against quality opposition.

This doesn't necessarily mean countries sending their best teams to these nations. NZ has a wealth of options, the NZ Maori, NZ Divisional XV, Junior All Blacks. The beauty of sending some of these teams away is it also benefits the players in those teams who otherwise may not get overseas trips as they're not quite test-level players, but still good opposition for the Tier II nations.

OB..
09-06-05, 11:06
It's a delicate balance. If Wales sent their third string and lost, the USA might feel good about it, but the Welsh wouldn't. They don't want to risk sending a team that might get beaten.

Moreover the form of both countries fluctuates, so it is hard to judge just what the standard will be.

Ideally, we should have two equal teams so that everybody can enjoy a close, well-fought game - even the losers. Not easy to achieve, but we should certainly keep trying.

SimonSmith
09-06-05, 13:06
I can think of several things that would help rugby in the USA, and playing a Tier 1 nation isn't making it high up on the list.
The most immediate benefit of that is the money generated, and I'm not seeing huge bucks out of that match.

USA faces many of the same issues that Canada does, and yet I sense a reluctance to face up to harsh truths. The fact that the 7s team perpetually gets hosed always seems to cause upset and surprise.

The solution is money, infrastructure, and an acceptance that if you want the best players to play at the best levels, they'll have to travel.
I've refereed Super League teams, which is where some of the USA national team comes from. They aren't international caliber, and the standard of competition isn't close to it.

didds
09-06-05, 14:06
dunno about the learning direction... possibly wales come away with seeing what combinations wporked and didn't work albeit not under kuch poressure.

didds

Mike Whittaker
09-06-05, 18:06
They query Bandladesh playing England at cricket as well.... but then they said the same about Sri Lanka once upon a time......

If Wales or England don't want to play US at rugby, they won't ... at present they do. Don't see the problem....

SimonSmith
09-06-05, 21:06
USA is trying to build a fan base.

Don't see many punters being attracted to sport where your nation regularly takes a 70 point humping!

didds
09-06-05, 23:06
well, I suspect the US is onto a hiding for nothing in thsi regard.

they either play the acjnowledged teams and get thunped (unattractive to US punters probably) or they play tier 2 teams with lack of "cred" (unattractive to US punters).

dunno what the solution is.

didds

SimonSmith
10-06-05, 13:06
Huge cash injection allowing them to attract the genuinely best players and athletes at High School.
Rigorous development of youth rugby.
Export the current best players aborad so they can play at the highest levels.

See the rewards in a few years.

I should be CEO of USA Rugby!

Bryan
10-06-05, 14:06
I should be CEO of USA Rugby!

You'll get your chance Simon. Every 6 months there's a new CEO in place with some wonder scheme full of promises and miracles to revamp USA rugby. I suspect you'd be in with a chance.

-Bryan

Simon Griffiths
10-06-05, 17:06
Bringing in the best athletes early is essential. In a country such as the USA (in particular) there is an abundance of athletical talent in American football, athletics and numerous other sports. The important thing is to have the infrastructure and money to make the most of the game and bring in the best athletes.

The Churchill Cup works very well with an England A team playing Canada, America (and more recently an invitational team). It's certainly promoted rugby in certain areas of Canada - so much so that Edmonton has got the women's RWC. The USA are supposed to host the '06 and '07 but have foolishly implied that they want Canada to host it for the final two years of the 'contract'. If they actually want it to be promoted they need to get people involved by hosting these types of events with England and the Maoris or Argentina etc.

My opinion is that the top countries should continue to play lesser nations - look at the improvement shown by Italy since their entry into the Six Nations gave them regular matches against quality opposition.

The raw talent is certainly available in 'lesser' countries and it needs to be used better. Rugby Canada re-set-up its U16 programme to spot talent. It's what they do with it that matters. Some system where players from Canada, USA and the other tier 2 nations can go on an 'exchange' to be part of the academy systems at top clubs around the world so that they can learn from the top developmental coaches in the world and work with the top players in the world. Then the success relies on how the rugby is organised.

One idea (using Can, USA and Arg) is that the top leagues of the USA, Canada and Argentina systems are merged. Most Argentinian players play in France so the ones still in Argentina are all currently semi-pro/amatuer. The teams would then combine their players (e.g. all the clubs in the southern states in the USA pool their players and pick the top 30). These new regional teams (not even state/province teams) would have the top players in their area.

We end up wit say 15 teams (five from each country) which are run as professional outfits (with help from the iRB and top nations - weirder things have happened) and play in a round-robin tournament (like Super 12). Then, the important bit - draft in top coaches from around the world to work with these players and hone in their skills and get them bloody fit (not just fit). Get the coaches from the areas involved as well - they can learn off top coaches who have worked and played at the top of the game for years.

When they're all set up they have a pre-season tour to play some NPC 2 or Nat. 1 clubs (in New Zealand or England etc.) as a warm-up. They then return home and start the northern hemisphere's version of the Super 12!

In Argentina rugby is hugely popular, but a game after an international as an opening game could get in the crowds even more. In the USA or Canada they could arrange to play after a big American Football match (the posts are similar enough!). This could well get some staying on and becoming interested. The teams then tour their region through the season - 7 home games. Using BC as an example (being somewhere I've visited), the 'BC Bears' ( :eek: ) could play 4 games in Vancouver, 2 in Victoria and 1 in Prince George so people all around the region get some rugby. Another example could be the 'West Coast Warriors' (or perhaps West Coast Wing Commanders?) who could play 2 games in Seattle, 2 games in LA and 3 games in San Francisco.

It obviously needs some tinkering (and the funding), but it's a possible way forward - certainly the academy 'exchange' is worth a serious look at (the USA paid for players to get experience in Europe - they could use this scheme too).

SimonSmith
11-06-05, 14:06
You'll get your chance Simon. Every 6 months there's a new CEO in place with some wonder scheme full of promises and miracles to revamp USA rugby. I suspect you'd be in with a chance.

-Bryan
Smith in '06! The campaign starts here.

There is as Noddy says a lot of athletes. However the competition from NFL, NBA and even soccer means that rugby is coming in a long way down the list.
One quick fix would be to make rugby a college scholarship sport - number of people taking it up in High School would increase exponentially!

didds
11-06-05, 16:06
some good ideas (speshly the S12 idea...) - but where does the money come from (aside from IRB coffers...)

Italy iomproving probably has as much to do with their players playing in pro teams in France etc and the exposure in the european club comps, as it does Italy itself playing top sides.

AIUI grid iron pitches are way too narrow to play rugby "properly" ... I did it once in germany on a US military base, and the back line gets squeezed very eary!

Bryan
11-06-05, 17:06
Simon G Jr.

I think the quasi-S12 idea is amazing to say the least! Not so much a "Super" 12, but perhaps a Mediocre 9 (3 teams from each country). Canada has it's own "Super League" as do the US, though I suspect that face to face the Top American team (New York or Belmont) would beat the top Canadian team (Vancouver Island or the Newfoundland Rock).

The problem with this is once again funding. Rugby Canada Super League (RCSL) teams can barely afford to fly across a few provinces, let alone between 2 continent. Rugby Canada cringed when the top two teams last year were literally at opposite ends of the country. They saved costs by shipping one team across the country (Vancouver flew out East) than having both play at the National Championships in Ontario.

There may also be a slightly lesser problem in Geography. This would have to be a summer league, as half of Canada is unplayable (and one could say Unliveable) in the Winter Months. This would give the advantage to the Western Teams, but may hamper them due to fatigue and Injury.

Canadian players are starting to get scouted by teams overseas- just look at the line-up for today's game against the Welsh. The continued "feeding" into top leagues can do wonders for the team at the moment- certainly we don't have a problem with players playing overseas that would "lower the standard" of rugby in our own country if it helps the National team in the end.

Playing on US football fields is the only flaw- US grounds would NEVER allow more markings on the pitch, and the pitches in the US are only 35 yards across (compared to 45 in Canada with our weird Canadian Football), so as Didds says there would be little space to move in. As much as rugby could be a curtain-raiser or closer, it won't happen.

I'm also a fan of younger Canadian teams touring the big nations. They'll feel great to get better press coverage than in their own country, and although Canada U18 playing England U18 would be a walkover for the English, playing the SouthWest Counties or East of England Schoolboys would do them some good. We lost to Surrey but beat the Welsh at a tournament in Millfield, so there is indeed Promise for Canada.

My money is still on Canada stepping up to play the Japan, US, Argentina, Fiji, and Samoa in some Pacific Rim Tournament.

Simon Griffiths
11-06-05, 18:06
AIUI grid iron pitches are way too narrow to play rugby "properly" ... I did it once in germany on a US military base, and the back line gets squeezed very eary!

Bit like when Wasps played at Loftus Road! :D

I did forget to add (for everyone's information) that it was a far-fetched and highly unlikely idea! (Due, as you say to funding).

The main idea is getting all the top players learning in Europe through academy systems and then going back to their nation to become part of their regions team (OK, 5 each may well have been optimistic). They then work with coaches under professional contracts so that they get the fitness to rival top nations and work on their skills/drills. Then players could spend the odd year(s) in Europe or New Zealand etc. playing with the best.

These teams of top players would concentrate the fans and advertise the sport in bigger events. Obviously, as well as increasing the awareness, you need to bring in the top athletes - as Simon said, some form of scholarship schemes (sadly that again requires funds).

As a general overview, other than academy exchanges, the most obvious ways to bring standards up to Tier 1 levels all involve a lot of money - if only I was Richard Branson or Bill Gates I'd put it all up! :cool:

NB. I'm doing my bit for Canadian rugby - I'm wearing my official Rugby Canada shirt!

robertti
13-06-05, 11:06
Aye Aye Simon, very nice idea. It sounds alot like the talk about the new Super 9 competition to be played between Australias Wallaby-less Super 14 teams and the Pacific Nations that has been talked about recently. I think its a very good idea these 'Second Tier' nations should match it with other clubs in top nations.

On a different note, everyone might be feeling sorry for Uruguay after 134-3 but does anyone feel sorry for Donal Courtney? What a terrible, boring match to referee!! Especially those two judges as well Brett Bowden and the other fella, I couldnt stand spirinting behind the posts and then sprinting 60m back to the 10m line on the other side of halfway TWENTY ONE times!!

SimonSmith
13-06-05, 13:06
As soon as you have refereed a 160 -0 game, let me know and I'll talk to you about tedium!

Simon Griffiths
19-06-05, 21:06
Well, the Eagles aquitted themselves very well against Argentina (albeit without their stars - but then again, they didn't have them for the Lions match...)

Very close match and the USA deserved to win it for putting in the effort and workload/determination despite being the under-dogs.

Well done to Billups for drilling them well and the players for picking some outstanding lines!

Sadly I shan't be rooting for Canada (although I almost always do), as they're playing England. That too could be interesting, but I think that the experience at half-back between Gommarsall and Goode will be key - especially linking with men like Simpson-Daniel out wide. My money's on Simpson-Daniel scoring at least two tries in a closer game than people will expect - within 20 points?

Ian_Cook
21-07-05, 04:07
IMHO teams such as Canada, USA, Samoa, Fiji etc, would gain hugely from touring New Zealand (or Australia) playing matches only against Provincial 2nd & 3rd division sides with a couple of "test" matches against the NZ Divisional XV. The level is about right; the 2nd & 3rd division sides play the same style as Div 1 sides, with a lesser skill level and speed of execution. Australia don't have a competition like NZ's NPC, but matches against sides involved in the NSW Premiership may be suitable, or if that level is too high, NSW Suburban Div 1 might be OK.

ExHookah
21-07-05, 16:07
Don't forget that while the US got spanked by Wales this year, last year they played very well against a French team (mostly 2nd choice, but all capped international guys).

It seems only recently that Canada gave NZ a challenge in the World Cup 1/4 final, but then I realize that was 15 years ago, and then I just feel old!

Chris Picard
31-07-05, 15:07
I think the pro nations should play the second tier nations. Without matches to show the talent, how are those players going to get pro contracts? Do you think without the exposure that Hercus or Lyle or Hodges would have obtained the contracts they did?

The only issue I have is some of the pro nations robbing players (read NZ and Fiji).

Account Deleted
03-08-05, 00:08
The issue of South Seas Islanders playing for New Zealand must be addressed. Just how strong could these guys be if the like of Lomu and others had stayed loyal?

Ian_Cook
03-08-05, 03:08
Before you make sweeping statements, you need to do some research and then you will know what you are talking about.

Jonah Lomu was born 12 May, 1975 in AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND. He is, and always has been, a NEW ZEALAND CITIZEN. His parents were immigrants to New Zealand many years before. Jonah was taken to live in Tonga due to family circumstances (with his Aunt) until he was six years old. He was educated at Wesley College (AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND)

Also, Tana Umaga, born 1973, Lower Hutt, NZ, in spite of people saying that we stole him too

Here is something that you, in the Northern Hemisphere need to understand. Auckland has a population of nearly 1.2 million in a country of 4 million. It contains the largest population of Polynesion (and thats NOT including Maori) in the WORLD. There are far more New Zealand Born Tongans, Fijians and Samoans living Auckland than there are native born peoples of those three countries living here. The majority of Polynesian race players who are eligible to be All Blacks were born HERE, and/or were raised HERE, and have played all of their Rugby HERE.

You want to look in a few other back yards first:

George Gregan was born in Zambia. Should he have to play there? If he did, he would have his good friend and teammate, Korne Krige (born on the same day in the same hospital) in the Zambian scrum. Similarly, Andrew Mehrtens should, by your logic, have played for South Africa. He could have had Mike Catt playing outside him (although I doubt he would have been selected) . Also, Simon Shaw was born in Kenya and lived there until he was 16? And what about that stalwart of Welsh Rugby, Shane Howarth!!

I seem to remember a time, not so long ago, when more than half of the English cricket team were Zimbabweans, South Africans and West Indians. Which brings me to the ICC system of eligibility, which I believe is the best. If you weren't born in the country you wish to play for, you must be a resident there for 5 years, and NOT play for the country of your birth during that five year period. Much fairer.

People like youselves and the IRB rulemakers have to realise that the world has shrunk, it has become multi-cultural (take at look at London sometime, in case you haven't noticed) and many millions of people worldwide choose to live and work in countries other than those they were born in. I know this, because I am one of those people (born in Enfield Public Hospital, Middlesex, England, raised in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire). Players, like Jerry Collins, Rodney So'oilao, Sione Lauaki, Mils Muliaina etc, all came to New Zealand when they were children, with their parents or guardians, and were educated in New Zealand. They learned the game and honed their skills in New Zealand. Their parents came here for the opportunities that they NEVER could have got in their own countries. In Europe, you have a lot of countries in close proximity. In New Zealand, and elsewhere in the South Pacific, we cannot just jump into our cars and drive to another country. Its a four hour plane ride just to to Australia, the nearest country to us. You have players playing club rugby in France, living in France and playing for Wales. That kind of arrangement is just not possible here. Why. Because the IRB after years of promises of financial assistance for Pacific Island Rugby, have delivered nothing! Instead, they spend millions of dollars flyng the CEOs of every rugby playing nation to the World Cup, putting them up in expensive hotels and treating them to a neverending junket. Those millions would have been better spent on some infrastructure in the PI so that they would have a better chance of holding on the the players they have.

Incidentally, the biggest guilty party to screwing up PI teams for the World Cup are the European Rugby Clubs who won't release PI players, or place unfair pressure on them to make themselves unavailable. There are more Samoan players elgible to play for Samoa in Europe than there are in NZ!

Bryan
03-08-05, 07:08
Not that I really give a rat's a$$, but didn't Martin Johnson play for NZ Colts at one point? I'm honestly not trying to get in an argument, but it did spark my curiosity to figure out what made him "switch" in then end? Was he in NZ temporarily, or could he have qualified as an AB?

I also propose that Canada, Zambia, Tonga, and Kenya all merge to form one big super team. We'll take the last "A" from Zambia, Tonga, and Kenya. Then we'll take the "C", "N", and "D" from Canada...to form C.A.N.A.D.A. Naturally no former Canadian will make it into the new 22-man roster.

-Bryan

Mike Whittaker
03-08-05, 08:08
Now that the game is truly a professional business it is surely only a matter of time before 'country' teams have no more relevance to that country than do club teams to the town in which they are based. Rather like the world of athletics where Africans are now running for the countries that pay best such as Qatar.

But then I speak as someone who would rather watch a level 8 club game played by amateurs for fun than a premiership game where professionals work to make money...

OB..
03-08-05, 11:08
Ian - like you, I am fed up with the constant erroneous claims of PI poaching made against New Zealand. But by the same token, your final paragraph is not quite accurate either.

As far as I am aware, no Samoan was refused release by any English club. There was however an important financial angle: clubs were naturally not obliged to pay the wages of a player who was representing his country elsewhere, and Samoa could not afford to match the payments. Players chose to make themselves unavailable.

If there had been financial pressure by the clubs, Samoa could have contested the case. The IRB Regulations say that the country concerned can demand the release of a player, and if he refuses to play for his country, he is also debarred from playing for his club during the relevant period (details in IRB Regulation 9). Samoa decided they would do more harm than good by exercising this right, because they would alienate the players and gain nothing.

Naturally this situation led to demands that the IRB should step in and pay the wages. I can see the attractions of the argument, but I can also see the pitfalls: what would prevent England from demanding the same treatment? Or some middle-ranked country such as Canada or Russia?

I do recall that there was a case brought to the IRB against a French club, but I never saw a report as to what happened. I presume it was settled behind closed doors.

By the way, what were these millions spent on CEOs? Not a story I have heard of.

Ian_Cook
03-08-05, 12:08
OB This will tell you about the IRBs unwillingness to help PI Rugby;

http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/articles/2005/06/12/1118514927198.html?oneclick=true

This will give you an example of the kind of budgets that teams like Fiji have to go on (FYI - 1 pound = 3 Fiji Dollars) while nine million pounds are spent on sending 51 players and over 30 support staff on an 11 match Lions Tour.

http://www.pacificislands.cc/pm32002/pmdefault.php?urlarticleid=0025

When I find the article I read about the CEOs being flown to Australia during the RWC2003 I'll post that for you.

I take your point about the IRB Regulation 9. Yes it was a French Club, which placed pressure on a Samoan player not to play for his country. But its not the only time it has happened; its just the only one that has been widely publicised. This kind of thing needs to be stamped on hard by the IRB. Thankfully, we don't have that problem here, because the NZRFU Policy is that players who dont play in NZ are not considered for selection, and since the NZRFU pay the players salaries, they can't be held to ransom by anyone. This is why, when the AB's tour Europe, you get the real thing, a near full strength side, but when England and France tour NZ, we get the 3rd XV (and they get caned by 50 to 60 points) because the English and French clubs wont release the top players.

ExHookah
03-08-05, 13:08
many millions of people worldwide choose to live and work in countries other than those they were born in.

I think a large number of us who are registered on this board fall under that category!

OB..
03-08-05, 17:08
its not the only time it has happened; its just the only one that has been widely publicised. This kind of thing needs to be stamped on hard by the IRB. If it is not publicised, how is the IRB to find out about it? That would mean doing their own detective work, which makes little sense. The country concerned knows full well which players it wants, and Regulation 9 gives that country the power to report the matter to the IRB, who will apply the sanctions.

It can obviously be a difficult choice for the country, and it would be nice for them if they could blame the IRB for any nasty fall-out, but realistically they cannot expect to duck responsibility for at least informing the IRB.

I think you are also over-egging the pudding on overeas players. As you yourself pointed out, geography makes it difficult for overseas players to represent New Zealand. In Europe it is no real problem. There are other factors (apart from central contracts), such as the organisation of top level competitive rugby, and history. Claims that players failed to tour because of club pressure are ill-founded. It makes sense for a key player to risk a dodgy hamstring in, say, a cup final, because there are players on the bench, and other players to cover other matches. However it can look rather silly to tour under such circumstances.

SimonSmith
03-08-05, 17:08
I think a large number of us who are registered on this board fall under that category!

I got married. Choice had very little to do with it!

Ian_Cook
03-08-05, 20:08
OB

1998 England short tour of NZ
20/6/98 NZ won 64-22
27/6/98 NZ won 40-10

Was this a full strength England side? Of course not, it was mssing most of their top players, not released by their club sides.

In the next two months, NZ went on to lose their next five matches in a row (first time ever). How bad was that England side then?

1999 France came to NZ
24/6-99 NZ won 54-7

Again a second string side, and down to players not being released from their European Clubs.

It is very much a bone of contention in this country that we respect NH Rugby by sending full strength, or as near full strength NZ sides as possible, while NH sides (hamstringed by the defiance of the powerful clubs) don't accord us the same respect. International Rugby should be the absolute pinnacle of a player's career, not just an afterthought (like it is in Rugby League!).

Mike Whittaker
03-08-05, 21:08
Perhaps it is worth considering the words 'full strength'
Given the number of matches that NH players are required to play in a season it is a wonder they are ever at full strength for summer tours.. whereas SH players are desperate for top level games...

It is of course the stupidity of the set up in the North that creates this situation and until common sense reduces the number of matches it will remain so.....

OB..
03-08-05, 23:08
Ian -
it was mssing most of their top players, not released by their club sides. Yes, I thought you might quote that one.

Kyran Bracken, Mike Catt, Lawrence Dallaglio, Will Greenwood, Richard Hill, Martin Johnson, David Rees, Tim Rodber, and Tony Underwood were all injured. Grayson was allowed to stay behind for the birth of his first child. You will probably want to stress that Jerry Guscott, Jason Leonard, and Phil de Glanville all said they were worn out and needed a rest. Evidence that this was in fact club pressure is sorely lacking.
How bad was that England side then?Terrible. 10 players won their first cap on that tour. Only 4 regulars played (Cockerill, Dawson, Healey and Perry) plus perhaps Archer. It was a disaster of a tour.

You rightly get upset when people wrongly complain about New Zealand poaching. I get equally upset when people blithely claim that the only reason for the weakened team in 1998 was club intransigence. The main problem was that uncertainty over re-organisation meant clubs felt they had to push their top players to the limit to safeguard their position, rather than give them a rest.

As John Pullin once said, "We may not be any good, but at least we turn up". The Irish applauded. I think New Zealand could at least show a modicum of respect by acknowledging that we did the best we could under difficult circumstances. Nobody could claim we enjoyed it.

Ian_Cook
04-08-05, 04:08
Frankly, I agree with you. I am not sure how many "top" games the elite NH players play (presumably they could potentially play 24 ZP or 22 CL matches then some will play HC (I'm not sure how many, maybe 6; perhaps someone could explain how you arrive at 4 semifinalists from six pools of four teams). Anyway, add on to that five 6N matches, and thats an awful lot of Rugby for those players (far too much IMO)

SH Players have potentially 13 S12 (next year 15 S14) matches, then 4 TN matches then, for the NZ players, 12 NPC matches. I don't know how many Currie Cup matches there are in SA.

Anyway, do I concede that SH players play nowhere near as many as NH players, although its still a lot of top rugby for the SH elites, especially as it involves a lot more long distance travel going to and from SA and Aussie. The NZRFU has decided that no All Blacks will play in our NPC from 2006 onwards, a wise move, and one that is only possible because NZRFU holds the purse strings.

It is my belief that you need to have a similar arrangement, although how you can wrest control out of the hands of the clubs and put back where it belongs, in the hands of the individual Rugby Unions is beyond me.

Account Deleted
04-08-05, 09:08
Before you make sweeping statements, you need to do some research and then you will know what you are talking about.

Jonah Lomu was born 12 May, 1975 in AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND. He is, and always has been, a NEW ZEALAND CITIZEN. His parents were immigrants to New Zealand many years before. Jonah was taken to live in Tonga due to family circumstances (with his Aunt) until he was six years old. He was educated at Wesley College (AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND)

Also, Tana Umaga, born 1973, Lower Hutt, NZ, in spite of people saying that we stole him too.

Here is something that you, in the Northern Hemisphere need to understand. Auckland has a population of nearly 1.2 million in a country of 4 million. It contains the largest population of Polynesion (and thats NOT including Maori) in the WORLD. There are far more New Zealand Born Tongans, Fijians and Samoans living Auckland than there are native born peoples of those three countries living in their own countries. The majority of Polynesian race players who are eligible to be All Blacks were born HERE, and/or were raised HERE, and have played all of their Rugby HERE.

You want to look in a few other back yards first:

George Gregan was born in Zambia. Should he have to play there? If he did, he would have his good friend and teammate, Korne Krige (born on the same day in the same hospital) in the Zambian scrum. Similarly, Andrew Mehrtens should, by your logic, have played for South Africa. He could have had Mike Catt playing outside him (although I doubt he would have been selected) . Also, Simon Shaw was born in Kenya and lived there until he was 16? And what about that stalwart of Welsh Rugby, Shane Howarth!!

I seem to remember a time, not so long ago, when more than half of the English cricket team were Zimbabweans, South Africans and West Indians. Which brings me to the ICC system of eligibility, which I believe is the best. If you weren't born in the country you wish to play for, you must be a resident there for 5 years, and NOT play for the country of your birth during that five year period. Much fairer.

People like youselves and the IRB rulemakers have to realise that the world has shrunk, it has become multi-cultural (take at look at London sometime, in case you haven't noticed) and many millions of people worldwide choose to live and work in countries other than those they were born in. I know this, because I am one of those people (born in Enfield Public Hospital, Middlesex, England, raised in Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire). Players, like Jerry Collins, Rodney So'oilao, Sione Lauaki, Mils Muliaina etc, all came to New Zealand when they were children, with their parents or guardians, and were educated in New Zealand. They learned the game and honed their skills in New Zealand. Their parents came here for the opportunities that they NEVER could have got in their own countries. In Europe, you have a lot of countries in close proximity. In New Zealand, and elsewhere in the South Pacific, we cannot just jump into our cars and drive to another country. Its a four hour plane ride just to to Australia, the nearest country to us. You have players playing club rugby in France, living in France and playing for Wales. That kind of arrangement is just not possible here. Why. Because the IRB after years of promises of financial assistance for Pacific Island Rugby, have delivered nothing! Instead, they spend millions of dollars flyng the CEOs of every rugby playing nation to the World Cup, putting them up in expensive hotels and treating them to a neverending junket. Those millions would have been better spent on some infrastructure in the PI so that they would have a better chance of holding on the the players they have.

Incidentally, the biggest guilty party to screwing up PI teams for the World Cup are the European Rugby Clubs who won't release PI players, or place unfair pressure on them to make themselves unavailable. There are more Samoan players elgible to play for Samoa in Europe than there are in NZ!


If I have made an error on a particular persons nationality then I unreservedly appologies.

With regard to Shane Howearth and the others you mention I believe that very strict rules should be laid down to establish nationality. And the nonsense of People playing for 2 countries ans happened a few years ago wit han Aussie / Argie prop. The Welsh "grannygate" situation and the rest.
For me you are either born here, your parents (and it stops there!) were born here and emegrated and you then chose to come here with NO representative honours out side of Schools and or youth, or have lived here a minimum of 5 years (again with not rep honours). People who are born abroad, eg Graham Price, born in Egypt when his father was on Army service are technically born in the mother country as military bases tend to be part of the home country in a legal sort of way.

The story about NZ PI players is widely reported and you (NZ) need to clarify the truth for the world.

Once again I apologise.

OB..
04-08-05, 11:08
Ian - Heineken Cup: 6 pool winners plus 2 best runners-up go into the quarter finals.

Central contracts fit the NZ set-up very well. 3N, S12+, NPC, , clubs. And you say that top players will compete only in 3N, S12+, and tours.

The RFU Structured Season covers over 40 weekends, with only a couple offering a rest to top players. Below International level, all serious matches are club games. If we somehow switched to central contracts, there would still be problems between club and country. Central contracts are more a mantra than a panacea.

In the past when there were no leagues etc, it did not matter if a player took a rest from time to time. Moreover the intensity was less. 40 games a season was nothing. At low levels that is still the case, but it is noticeable that 1st XV players often sit out non-league/cup games. Our 3rd XV wants to play every Saturday.

Now that TV revenues are so important, it is difficult to see how to reconcile the players' need for fewer top matches with the TV and spectators' demand for more. The RFU is trying to apply a rule of 35 matches per season, and is having trouble even with that.

Galois proved that you cannot square the circle, so something has to give. The process of adjustment is continuing, but I don't think treating the situation as a Gordian knot would help in the slightest. Even without the metaphors.

Ian_Cook
04-08-05, 13:08
All The Time Ref - Apology accepted, although on reflection, I probably could have expressed myself a little more diplomatically. My regrets if you felt chastised!

We do try to report the real situation with regard to PI rugby. The problem is that Rugby Correspondents of the ilk of Mr E. Butler and Mr S. Jones, who report in your media, don't seem to be all that interested in the truth.

As for playing for more than one country, I am not philosophically opposed to switching allegiances, I just believe that it needs to be something that is not easy to do, and should require a lengthy stand-down period AND a lengthy residency period before a player can become eligible. As I said, I believe the ICC has it about right. I don't believe that too much emphasis should be placed on place of birth, parentage is more relevent. WRT my personal circumstances that I reported in a previous post; if I had been born two months earlier, my birthplace would have been recorded as La Rochelle on the west coast of France, where my father was working at the time. He was English and my mother was Swiss. France would have had absolutely no cultural relevence for me whatsoever.

A player from country A, having played for country A at any level, and who wishes to emigrate to country B, should stand-down from ALL international competititon and be resident in country B for 5 calendar years before becoming eligible, however

A player from country A, having never played for country A at any level should be able to play for country B without any stand-down and with only a minimal residency requirement. The reason for that is simple, and is justified by the example of a 16 year old who emigrates with his parents (perhaps not his choice) who would otherwise be barred from playing for his new country at any level until he was 21. Hardly fair on him.

I totally agree with you that a player should NOT be able to make a switch back (I guess they could if they were prepared to meet another 5 year stand-down and residency period, but that's 10 years out of their playing career and I hardly think that's likely to happen).

Also, Sevens representation should have no relevence to anything but itself. Its a different game which shares some of the same rules (as does League). Should a player be banned from playing Union for one country because they have played League for another? (Henry Paul!)


OB - best 2 runners up being based on what, win/loss, table points, points difference. Also, do all clubs participate in HC or do they have to qualify, like Soccer's European Champion's League.

Ian

PS: It is very rare for an All Black to turn out for their club side.

Chris Picard
04-08-05, 14:08
I think the pro nations should play the second tier nations. Without matches to show the talent, how are those players going to get pro contracts? Do you think without the exposure that Hercus or Lyle or Hodges would have obtained the contracts they did?

The only issue I have is some of the pro nations robbing players (read NZ and Fiji).

Ian,

I made the above statement. While I must admit I do not some players birth place, I am curious as to Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu. Were these players born in NZ?

I am not throwing stones, look at the US side, just asking how do you work on retaining more home grown talent without the IRb stepping in? Or do you split the WC into a Tier A and Tier B like the U-19 yearly event?

Chris

Ian_Cook
04-08-05, 14:08
Chris -

Joe Rokokoko was born in Nadi, Fiji, 6 June 1983. His parents emigrated to NZ in 1987. Joe has lived here since he was four.

Sitiveni Sivivatu was born in Suva, Fiji, 19 April 1982. He came to New Zealand early in 1999 on a scholarship to Wesley College in Auckland. He has since been granted permanent residence under the Pacific Access Category (PAC) that each year allows a certain number of people from Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu residence in New Zealand.

Incidentally. Joe and Sitiveni are cousins

As far as the two tier business, I really don't know what would work best. I believe that the best way to develop and improve the standard of rugby for teams like USA, Canada, Fiji etc, is to play regularly against teams of a superior quality, but not against the very top teams. You don't learn anything or gain anything by getting belted off the park. South Africa 134-3 against Uruguay achieves nothing for either side!

A friend of mine (ex-ref too!) had a good idea for the WC. I'll check out to make sure of the details before I post it.

Chris Picard
04-08-05, 14:08
Ian,

Thanks.

Chris

OB..
04-08-05, 15:08
Ian - you can find all the gory details (for 2004/5) at http://www.scrum.com/eurocups/0405/heineken_rules.asp

I think there is a lot to be said for the ICC rule, but 5 years seem too long in rugby terms. A cricketer can play into his forties. 2 or 3 years would seem about right for rugby.

There is an argument that the 6 years Hick had to wait ruined him. He got used to being a very successful flat-track bully ie he could always see off the one or two front line bowlers and punish the rest. In Test cricket that is not an option.

Simon Griffiths
04-08-05, 18:08
The IRB have launched a new programme of funding it would appear (found this on a club board):


Tier Two High Performance:

Within the Tier Two high performance investment programme a priority funding scale has been developed based on a comprehensive IRB 6-month audit that was carried out this year in consultation with each Union. Key elements looked at in terms of high performance systems included athletes, athlete pathways, coaches, coaching structures, existing competition structures, equipment and facilities, sports science and sports medicine. The investments vary from 525,000 to 1.5m over three years based on the assessments of the audit.

Samoa, Romania, Canada and USA will receive 1.5m over three years; Tonga will receive 830,000, Fiji 800,000 and Japan 525,000. In some cases the funding will be front loaded in the first year to assist with the establishment of essential infrastructure requirements.

The total IRB investment in Tier Two Unions in terms of high performance initiatives, including the establishment of new tournaments, is 15.5m. This funding is over and above the annual IRB grant investments received by these Unions and the benefits they receive through participation in IRB funded tournaments.

Tier One High Performance:

Within the Tier One investment programme each of the 10 unions will be eligible for up to 250,000 per annum for a three-year period (20052007) for high performance related projects. Each Union has applied for the funding through the submission of a detailed proposal demonstrating that a high performance gap analysis has been undertaken and key performance indicators and key milestones identified.

An additional 1.5m has been earmarked over the three years for an Argentina special investment fund. This will fund the development of domestic rugby structures and a cross border competition in *South America. The total investment in Argentina over the next three years is therefore 2.25m.

Tournaments:

A series of new cross border tournaments and international tournaments for the Tier One and Tier Two unions have also been approved in principle with an overall budget of over 10m. The tournaments are aimed at creating new competition structures for Tier Two Unions and Tier One Union 'A' teams.

This will give an appropriate level of competition for Tier Two Unions and will aid in the development of their national teams. The 'A' teams in Tier One Unions have been identified as a key development pathway component, especially for those Unions seeking to be more competitive at the top level.

New Cross Border Tournaments:
(non-international tournaments)

1. Pacific League competition between representative regional teams, two each from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
2. North America 6 competition between three representative regional teams from Canada and three from USA
3. A Romania team to play in European Challenge Cup (club competition)
4. *South America 8 - competition played between six Argentinean representative regional teams and one representative team from Chile and one from Uruguay

New International Tournaments:
(Played in the existing international window in June/July with structures to be finalised in November 2005)

1. Pacific Six Nations involving Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Japan, Australia A and Junior All Blacks
2. Expanded Churchill Cup to include Canada, USA, Argentina A, England A and other national Tier One 'A' teams (from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy)
3. Rainbow Cup to include Romania, South Africa 'A' and other national 'A' teams (from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy)

Operational costs for the strategic development programme will be around 1m. This includes ongoing consultancy, administration and management support for the programme. It also includes the employment of a General Manager and a High Performance Manager who will assist in the implementation of the strategic initiatives in the Pacific Islands. The IRB Executive Committee has also established an Advisory Group under the Chairmanship of IRB Deputy Chairman Bob Tuckey to oversee and monitor the strategic investment programme in the Pacific region.

Notice the iRB are trying to hijack the Churchill Cup! :D

Sounds fairly good. I'll reserve judgement, but do we know what we're comparing it to (i.e. what they were giving before)?

Ian, would this idea for the WC be anything similar to England's 2007 proposals - whereby there was a 'main' RWC, and then a Rugby World Nations Cup (or similar name)? Whereby the 'lesser' nations played in a tournament that they could all compete in (rather than get walloped by 100+ points). As it happens, the same idea that was extremely popular with the lower tier nations and would probably have passed (had France not jumped in to 'bribe' the multi-vote holders in Wales and Scotland with prospects of matches in Cardiff and Edinburgh).

Bryan
04-08-05, 18:08
Sounds fairly good. I'll reserve judgement, but do we know what we're comparing it to (i.e. what they were giving before)?


Got the same thing in a Memo from Tom Jones this morning. According to Tom, up until now the USA and Canada have recieved a maximum of 150,000 (UK Sterling) annually in base funding from the IRB. We're now getting 500,000. Not too shabby...

-Bryan

Simon Griffiths
04-08-05, 18:08
Thanks for the info Bryan. Certainly an improvement (and obviously one that was well within their budget...)

OB..
04-08-05, 19:08
Full details are on the IRB site. (http://www.irb.com/InTouch/Press/050804+SL+investment.htm)

It is all new money.

Ian_Cook
04-08-05, 23:08
OK. As promised, I had a chat to my ex-ref pal Roy. We made a couple of changes and this is what we have come up with;

Roy and Ians RWC format proposal

22 Teams will compete

The semi finalists from the previous World Cup automaticaly qualify; the remaining 18 qualify throughout the previous three years in RWC qualifying matches.

Once all 22 teams have been found, they are ranked in order from 1 to 22 based on their world rankings whatever they are at some specified date.

The competition consists of two stages, the Stage 1 (Pool) and Stage 2 (Group).

STAGE 1
The 16 Teams ranked from 7 to 22 are divided into 4 Pools of 4, with the teams ranked 7, 8, 9, & 10 seeded into Pools A, B, C and D respectively and the remaining teams drawn randomly to fill the pools
They play a round robin competition over 12 - 15 days, commencing on a Friday night. The top teams in each pool advance to the Stage 2.

STAGE 2
The six top ranked teams plus the four Stage 1 winners are seeded into two Groups of 5;
Group 1 teams ranked 1, 3 and 5, plus Pool A winner and Pool D winner
Group 2 teams ranked 2, 4 and 6, plus Pool B winner and Pool C winner
They play a round robin competetion.

Semi finalists are Winner Group 1 v runner-up Group 2, winner Group 2 v Runner up Group 1.

A final and a 3rd/4th playoff match are played

ADVANTAGES (That we can see!)

An extra 2 teams are involved.
All teams have a crack at getting in the main part of the comp.
Less one sided matches.
There would be matches every day of the competititon in both stages until semis and finals.
Only the strongest of the tier 2 nations get to play in the main comp.
Still only 48 matches total, even though extra 2 teams are involved.
Top teams play each other more. Getting into the semis wouldn't just be a matter of thrashing lesser teams.

DISADVANTAGES (That we can see!)
No quarter finals matches, although it wouldn't be hard to organise.
Competition would be a slow starter due to stronger teams not being involved immediately, although you could start Stage 2 before stage 1 was finished, because you already know who six of the 10 teams are

I'm sure someone will correct me if 'm wrong, but I think where this differs from the England proposal is that it allows any of the 22 teams involved to potentially win the World Cup. I from what I understood the England proposal involved two separate competititons running in parallel.

Any comments?

Mike Whittaker
05-08-05, 18:08
Very clever and well thought through...

Just one question though, "Don't the lesser teams actually like to play against the big boys?" Neutrals may not be interested and the supporters of the big boys think it is a waste of time... but ... is it??

Ian_Cook
05-08-05, 20:08
Firstly, the lesser teams will get to play some "big boys" if they are good enough.

Secondly, about the neutral supporters, thats down to marketing and ticket pricing for those matches. The Aussies did it superbly in 2003. Example. The match between Georgia and Uruguay played at Aussie Stadium was a sellout. the "supporters" were urged to either pick a team to support, or if they couldn't decide, then support Georgia if their birthday fell on an odd day of the month, or Uruguay if it fell on an even day of the month. This and the team's colours were well publicised beforehand, and people dressed accordingly. Not bad for a country where Rugby Union is a very distant fourth behind Cricket, Aussie Rules and Rugby League, and NSW population is less than 7 million.