Listen, back in the day when he was quite genuinely a breath-takingly brilliant rugby coach of Manly and then the Wallabies, one of Alan Jones’ favourite sayings to us, whenever anyone proffered any criticism was, “the dogs bark, the caravan moves on”.
Hence the tragic irony now, whereby, on those rare occasions when Jones is not carrying on about how COVID is no big deal and even India should get a grip and not give into “ignorant alarmism”, he is the dog endlessly barking criticism of rugby.
What a finish … Brumbies back Mack Hansen pleads with Nic Berry for a knock-on call as he awards James O’Connor’s try.Credit:Getty Images
Seriously Alan, Brent Williams, the boss of Sport at Nine – owners of this paper, blah, blah – affirmed: “We’ve seen really strong numbers all throughout the Super Rugby season, and then on Saturday night it all came home with record numbers across free-to-air and Stan Sport.” The stats bear him out, as it peaked nationally at a staggering 464,000 viewers, with the Super Rugby Final AU up 232 per cent year-on-year from what it got on Foxtel.
It was a return to the halcyon days of 20 years ago, which was wondrous to behold, even for a brief moment. But it was also, hopefully the harbinger of things to come, and a staggering success given where the game was just a year ago.
“How have we ended up with the current debt of $30 million?”
I’ll go with COVID as a good start – hard to turn a buck with no games and no crowds, yes? Oh, and millions lost on your mate Israel Folau didn’t help. You might remember you supported him from the beginning on his homophobic posts which saw sponsors like Qantas understandably run screaming from the room and burning the clothes they were wearing at the time. The way it dragged on was as expensive as it was insane, Alan, and you backed him all the way. And now you want to criticise Rugby Australia over money lost? You don’t think consumer boycotts are serious? You’ll be interested to know – and this is rinky-dink, from my favourite 2GB insider – that revenue at at your old station DOUBLED in the month after you left, because they bloody well do work. The good news here is that today, Rugby Australia, will announce their new jersey sponsor and it’s a blue chip mob that other sports would kill to have. Harvey Norman are already locked in, putting big bucks on the table to sponsor Super Rugby AU, which is fabulous. Oh, and all systems are go to secure the 2027 Rugby World Cup for Australia and it is looking good!
“How much have we lost from the bungled broadcast negotiations with Fox Sports?”
Strangely, bugger-all. In cash and contra Nine/Stan paid, I am reliably informed, about $10 million more for broadcast rights than Fox did – and most crucially, the rugby coverage is on free-to-air, which is priceless for rugby. And Nine’s share price rose last week on the news of how many new subscribers Stan has got because of rugby! There is great news here for rugby, Alan you just need to look harder.
“Why did the game knock back the $50 million offered by Andrew Forrest when the Western Force were heartlessly abandoned by Rugby Australia?”
Look it up, Alan. Because Twiggy’s offer didn’t come at five minutes to midnight for the Force, it came at five minutes past midnight, after everything was locked in.
“Why would we sell off our game to private equity investors when we know their only interest is in their return on investment?”
Well, if its good enough for the All Blacks, Six Nations and South Africa, it has to be a good start for us? And in a professional game, getting the big end of town involved can be no bad thing so long as the pin-stripe brigade doesn’t have control.
“What exactly do we need the money from private equity for?”
Paying the bills – which are about $40 million less annually than what they were when McLennan took over.
“Someone has to offer a coherent statement about the future of rugby and that needs to be done now. We are ready for the ‘vision thing’.”
Over here, Alan! I’ll have a go. The vision is to have the professional game prosper, to deliver the money needed to grow the game overall. The vision is to have an inclusive game where all are welcome bar homophobic religious zealots, and ex-coaches who never shut the ruck up; who spend their energy tearing the game down, not building it up – perhaps because the coterie of acolytes they continually push for various positions are not getting the gigs the said ex-coaches want them to get.
Any further questions?
I will be in my caravan.
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