As times change, rugby must evolve and the reality is what was once our strength is no longer sustainable. There are too many layers to provide the quality coaching and competition we have had in the past.
Club rugby is the base of our game and should be a top priority. Secondary School rugby is responsible for a disconnect between the Junior and the Senior Club. A cradle-to-grave club membership concept is the key to healthy pathways for most sports throughout the world. Players and coaches should remain at their club until higher honours are achieved.
First XV rugby is an unmitigated success in most rugby playing countries and should remain. It is a massive flag waving juggernaut for many schools. However, anything below this level in schools is, on the whole, poorly managed and coached and should go.
For the last 25 years Super Rugby has been the best, most competitive rugby competition in the world. It has been the mechanism for our best to be remunerated enough to remain in NZ rather than be lost to the Northern Hemisphere. However there are insurmountable challenges for this to remain: TV rights, travel, time zones, viability and now a global pandemic.
Technology and live streaming enables NZR to launch a domestic, professional, provincial competition available for the world to view. The underestimated tribalism will return along with strong allegiances and spectator numbers. Domestic competitions of the highest order in multiple sports are popular in the global market place. Rugby development in this part of the world continues to set the standard. We now need to cash in on a much more viable competition to retain an environment we can control.
The Rugby Championship needs to expand its boarders to include Japan and with time an American team based in Southern California or possibly Hawaii. The key is to be master of our own destiny and foster further rugby player, coach and team development – a NZ based product which is the best in the world.
Dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on!