'Time punters got their money's worth'
October 26, 2013
Greg Growden offers common-sense solutions to save Australian rugby © ESPNscrum with Getty Images
ESPNscrum this week has published Greg Growden's Manifesto to Save Australian Rugby, to provide thoughts and discussion points to help the sport rediscover its mojo in Australia.
Greg's ideas often have been radical - the suggestion that Australian rugby needs to cut one Super Rugby team, because expansion has diluted rather than deepened the talent pool, drawing ire from some fans - but there is a hefty dose of common sense in his voice of reason. Australian Rugby Union officials might help themselves to find some answers if only they would listen to the contrary and dissenting voice of a man who dislikes Kool-Aid.
So, to the fourth and final installment of Greg's plan to get Australian rugby out of the mire. Read on, and join the discussion by leaving a comment at the foot of the page, or by tweeting Greg Growden @GregGrowden.
The ARU should stop banging on about its dreadful financial position
Australian Rugby Union (ARU) administrators, who appear determined to play the blame game card, carry on repeatedly about how the cupboard is bare, but that does nothing to attract sponsors or public support. Better to shut up and find actual ways of overcoming the problem. Improving the product and being proactive for a change would help. And, no, despite the ramblings of certain ARU figures, Sevens football and women's rugby will not bring in the pot of gold. Meaningful matches will. And that all revolves around doing everything they can to again make the Wallabies winners.
Improve the rugby calendar
Too many games; too many Tests; too many internationals where the prime focus appears to be financial; and you wonder why half the Wallabies squad is currently injured. Rugby is going down the same track as cricket: too much meaningless fodder. Expanding the Super Rugby format will just make the calendar more cluttered.
Make the code more appealing to the punter
The lack of spectator appeal is a prime reason why rugby is struggling in Australia. What hope has the code got of keeping hold of the mainstream audience when matches feature endless interruptions - with scrums in particular an infuriating punctuation mark that can last for minutes and minutes and minutes and …
The joke, told over and over again by certain rugby television commentators, that scrums are the ultimate entertainment for bone-headed forwards, is wearing thin. TVs are being turned off because endless scrum resets are boring, unnecessary and a blight on the game. Endless resets also are a blatant waste of time. Administrators must come to their senses and stop the clock during the set piece or rugby will continue to be laughed at by the sane and those who have just given up out of frustration.
Compared with rugby league, soccer and AFL, rugby is often a game in slow motion; a game that revolves around footballers staring idly at each other, waiting for something to happen. Occasionally you get an invigorating game in which players remember the aim of the exercise is to actually score tries - such as the Springboks-All Blacks Test that decided The Rugby Championship. But the majority of games are dull, boring arm-wrestles, with break after break after break after …
It's time the punters got their money's worth, and actually 80 minutes of real action. Then some of the supposed true believers will come back into the fold.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Join the conversation with Greg on Twitter @GregGrowden
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup