Thursday, 15 March 2018

Rugby - A Brand in Decline

This may evolve in to one of those retrospective articles about the good old days.

Then again, there is no such thing because today is no more than the "good old day" of the future so every day in every era is technical good.

But I digress.

There was a time when I would attend all representative locally staged games.
The weekend Queensland played New South Wales in Brisbane was a major event on the annual sporting calendar and we were all encouraged to come along and “boo a blue”.

The Queensland players were as well known as any of the other local sporting identities and Andrew Slack was captain of Queensland and Australia.

I followed Rugby closely and enjoyed a great day out on game day at Ballymore, ending in post-game analysis under the grand stand consuming some of the major sponsor’s product.

Rugby had not yet entered the professional era and drew most of its players from Queensland’s private schools.

I can hardly name a current Queensland player and hardly noticed when the season started a few weeks ago.

The new Women’s Rugby competition started last week and again, if I did not know one of the players from the first women’s team of 1996, I would not have been aware of this event.

Over time, the maroons became the reds and now if I boo a blue, I am booing a team from South Africa, or is it New Zealand.

Other than New South Wales, Auckland was always the arch rival of Queensland however I have no idea which team represents Auckland now.

Rugby has lost out in the battle for sporting exposure and as such, has lost many followers and with it, perhaps its long term future.

A  days past, a player with the fundamental skills to play a Rugby code, League or Union, would make a decision as to the direction they would go. And, there were very different reasons for choosing one over the other.

Now, the only reason is money.

Rugby is not only losing the battle for an audience but is losing the battle in Australia for the elite athlete. The elite male at least

I have grave doubts of the Rugby brand ever recovering and of Australia’s ability to remain an elite Rugby nation.

I usually like to conclude an article such as this with some kind of suggested solution, however, in this case, I wonder if there is one.
Perhaps the Women's game will spike interest and bring greater awareness to the sport. This has certainly been the case with Soccer, AFL and Cricket. The difference is, these sports were not faltering in the first place.  
In Women's Super Rugby there is a new competition to promote and a need to grasp the opportunity while it is still new.
It was great to see 8 or 10 of the first ever Queensland Women's Rugby Team from 20 years ago attending the first game of the new Women's Super Rugby competition last week. I hope they were properly looked after however I suspect they may well have paid for their own tickets on a day when they could have been publically celebrated for being the original pioneers of representative Women's Rugby.

Then again, today is the good old day of a decades’ time, so all is ok, apparently.

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